Well this is going to be pretty straightforward. We move on to Ayr United in our mid-season reviews and the next few paragraphs will contain nothing but positives.
Quite simply Ayr United have been a revelation this season. They follow in the footsteps of Livingston from last year as the ‘surprise’ package but they play better football than Livi’s side from last season and they currently sit top of the table without much evidence of a potential collapse. Ask anyone who doesn’t support Ayr and they may say “yeah but Ayr will start to fall away soon”. But will they? So far there is nothing to show that they will.
As a United fan I have very mixed (and largely negative) memories of Ian McCall and by the end of his tenure at Tannadice it was a case of him deservedly being shown the door. Since 2015 he has slowly grafted away at Ayr and in the last 18 months we have seen him spearhead a miraculous rise to the summit of the Scottish Championship. They are a wonderful success story and given their ability to turn on the style when it matters then things might just continue.
January Wishlist – The key to Ayr United’s success has been small and steady changes and that will probably continue in January. The one big wish that fans would have is to keep hold of Lawrence Shankland but the likelihood is that most of the window will be dominated by a potential move. The squad as a whole could do with a little bit more depth but the reality is that we probably won’t see more than maybe one or two coming in.
Player of the Season (so far) – Without doubt it has to be Lawrence Shankland. After a sticky spell in his career he has blossomed at Ayr. It looks like he is finally developing into the player that he threatened to be at youth level and it will be very difficult for McCall to hold on to him. Most Ayr fans will know that he will leave sooner rather than later and for many it will just be case of hoping that the board get a good deal and can get a positive investment into the club.
Predicted Finish – 3rd.
Manager Grade – A. Ian McCall has done a magnificent job at Somerset. He looks like he feels really comfortable at Ayr and it has brought out the best in him. From an outsiders point of view it will be interesting to see what is next for McCall and if he still feels like he might want a crack at the top-flight. Who knows, that might be with Ayr…
Overall Grade – A. It is a wonderful, wonderful time to be an Ayr fan. The supporters are loving the journey that McCall is taking them on and for many it is the best the team has been for years (and for some it is the best they have ever seen). Can they see it through? I still have a feeling that they may lose a bit of momentum if Shankland leaves but even if he does I think they have enough to at least guarantee a playoff space. Given the quality of some of their performances they may still achieve even more.