2018/19 was just not very good for Queen of the South and it very nearly ended in relegation.
I mentioned last year that I had a soft spot for Gary Naysmith and he was always someone who I enjoyed watching during his playing career. It looked like he had started a promising career as manager but he stagnated badly last season and it meant that Queen of the South plummeted despite the form of Stephen Dobbie.
The season started reasonably well but at the turn of the year it was a case of the team hitting a period of freefall that looked terminal. It needed a change but the decision to remove Naysmith came so late that the new manager, Allan Johnston, only had the playoffs and he had one job – keep the club in the Championship. In the end they looked far too good for both Raith Rovers and Montrose so Johnston achieved this short-term target.
Up next for Johnston? Potentially a very, very tough year…
Transfers In – Gary Oliver (Greenock Morton), Michael Paton (Dumbarton), Dan Pybus (Tonsberg), Callum Semple (Ross County), Jack Hamilton (Livingston, loan), Robby McCrorie (Rangers, loan), Kevin Holt (Pafos), Lewis Kidd (Falkirk), Lee Kilday (Greenock Morton), Andy McCarthy (Partick)
Transfers Out – Nicky Low (East Stirlingshire), Jordan Marshall (Dundee), Alan Martin (East Kilbride), Deniz Mehmet (Dundee United), Andy Stirling (Queen of the South), Josh Todd (Dundee), Owen Bell (Workington Reds), Michael Doyle (Falkirk), Callum Fordyce (Airdrieonians), Daniel Harvey (Tow Law Town), Robbie Ivison (Tow Law Town), Kyle Jacobs (Greenock Morton), Declan Tremble (Dalbeattie Star), Fraser Aird (Dundee United, end of loan), Lyndon Dykes (Livingston, end of loan), Barry Maguire (Motherwell, end of loan), Iain Wilson (Kilmarnock, end of loan), Ian McGrath
Transfer Window Success? – It is really difficult to predict what might happen with Queen of the South this year but the signings they have made are of a reasonable standard given their tight operating budget. The squad is still very, very thin and they are only a few injuries away from a crisis (especially if talisman Dobbie misses any action, like he will in the early stages of the season).
Once the league gets going and Premiership clubs are set on their squad it should be the case that Allan Johnston will seek to add one or two more loan signings to help flesh out the core group. I worry that Queen of the South won’t make the additions required and that they are going to be left with a skeleton group that is competitive enough with everyone fit, but very weak once two or three are missing.
The Manager – I quite like Allan Johnston and I’ve always felt that he tries to get his teams to play decent football. Early indications show that the fans do recognise that Johnston has his group playing with a bit of creativity but the weakness in that is I think Johnston doesn’t always quite get the gritty and defensive side of the game right. With the risk of having a small group he will need to ensure his side are difficult to beat first and foremost (which isn’t really a strength of his).
Maybe attack is Johnston’s form of defence this year?
The Hope – I think even the most optimistic of fans would settle for a Queen of the South side who is at the very least competitive in most matches and one that can play to its strengths, which seems to be creativity. You would assume that with such a small budget the supporters will have tempered expectations and that as long as they can get the better of sides like Alloa, Arbroath and possibly Morton they will be happy with a solid, if unspectacular season.
Relying on Dobbie continues to be a fantastic asset but also a potential hindrance. Will his fitness be an issue this season?
Look Out For – I want to try and avoid talking about Dobbie here so instead I would like to mention a youngster who could be the player to help ease the pain if Dobbie misses much action. In young striker Connor Murray, Queen of the South have someone who has been on the fringes in recent years but is seriously pushing this season. At 22 he needs to now establish himself and this campaign could be the perfect chance for him.
Transfer and club information correct as of 30th July 2019