21/08/2009

Ayr v Morton Preview

"We're on the road again. I just can't wait to get on the road again." - Willie Nelson clearly wasn't managing a Scottish First division team when he came up with the lyrics to that song as Davie Irons would surely testify. Tomorrow we travel down the coast to face 1st division new boys Ayr United in what will be our sixth away game in seven competitive fixtures so far this season. The match is one we really need to take something from or the pressure on the Morton management team will start to become unbearable.

So far this season our formations have been a big talking point. The 4-5-1 isn't popular (particularly at Ross County on Tuesday when Brian Graham was used as the attacking spearhead, even though his playing style isn't suited to the role) so I think a lot of fans will be delighted to hear that Irons is considering reverting to the 3-5-2 that was relatively effective last season. He told the Greenock Telegraph's Roger Graham of his intentions today: "I'm definitely thinking of going back to 3-5-2."

I think this is the formation that best suits the personnel we have in the squad and if I've learned anything from reading World Soccer, FourFourTwo and listening to interviews with the world's best managers it's that the way to succeed is to pick your formation based on the strengths of the players you have available rather than rigidly sticking to a formation and trying to fit players into it. Carlo Ancelotti said as much in this month's FourFourTwo:

A coach must have the capacity to build a system based on the characteristics of his best players, not the other way around. At Parma, I played 4-4-2. At Juventus, I played with three central defenders. At Milan we evolved from 4-3-1-2 to 4-3-2-1 to accomodate trequartisti. If I had the players that best suited a 4-3-3, I would have no hesitation in doing it, I am not locked to any system.
In my humble opinion our squad's characteristics favour a 3-5-2. We have no full backs; Allan McManus's age means he would be best suited to playing in the middle of a back three; Jim Mclister and Kevin Finlayson can run all day and are most effective covering the flanks from back to front; Peter Weatherson needs a strike partner and we have an abundance of strong central midfielders to choose from so we would benefit from being able to get more of them into the team. I think it would be a wise decision to go back to the 3-5-2.

As the back page of today's Tele' screams, we have a keeper crisis. Kevin Cuthbert is still injured, Colin Stewart has a broken finger and Bryn Halliwell is in hospital after he took a knock in Tuesday's defeat at Ross County and subsequently passed blood. Fortunately, Irons says that it doesn't look serious but it does mean Ryan McWilliams comes in for only his second start for the club. I thought Ryan had a couple of shaky moments against Dunfermline but hopefully he can put those behind him and show that he has a future in professional football as his performance could be the difference between three points, one or none.

Dominic Shimmin is still out while the Tele's 'Injuries' box states that Ryan McGuffie and David MacGregor suffered slight knocks on Tuesday but should be okay for tomorrow.

Today former Morton defender Brian Reid tells the Ayrshire Post of his affection for his old club but stressed that this will mean nothing tomorrow: “I played 140 games in two spells at Morton and still know a lot of people including the chairman Dougie Rae who was a director when I was there and the kit man Andy Bryan who has been around for years. They are good people but I’m an Ayr United man now and want nothing more than to beat them on Saturday.”

Reidy will have to try to get the win he desires with only 18 first team players. However, he only has one player absent on Saturday - Martin Campbell is out with a thigh strain - the small squad is purely down to financial reasons although he is in the market for another striker. He had a look at a former Swiss under-21 internationalist and Robbie Winters in a couple of bounce matches but neither look likely to earn contracts, or feature tomorrow, as the Ayr boss feels that they are no better than what he already has at the club.

Maybe I'm being a little overly optomistic but If Irons uses a 3-5-2 I can see us sneaking a 1-0 win tomorrow. A win that will set us up for Tuesday when we will be back on the road again to face Ayr's rivals Kilmarnock in the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

Admisson Prices*

Main Stand

Adult - £15
Concessions - £8 (OAP's and under 16's only)

Terracing

Adult - £15
Concessions - £8 (OAP's and under 16's only)


*from ayrunitedfc.co.uk: here


Last Meeting

28.04.2007 - Scottish 2nd Division
Ayr United 1 - 0 Morton


Possible line up

McWilliams
Greacen McManus Walker
Finlayson McGuffie MacFarlane Jenkins McAlister
Weatherson Graham

Betting (high street prices)

Morton are best priced at 9/5 with .
Ayr United are 13/10 with , and .
The Draw is 13/5 with .


My Predicition

Ayr United 0 - 1 Morton
7/1 with , and .


Greenock Telegraph - A Keeper Crisis After Halliwell Is Hospitalised (21.08.2009)

ayrunitedfc.co.uk - Morton preview

Ayrshire Post - Ayr To Take On Morton (21.08.2009)

oddschecker.com - Ayr v Morton

1 comment:

mortonjag said...

I'll be upset but unsurprised if McGregor appears ahead of Alex Walker in a back three. Ayr have been doing not too badly. I reckon we'll do well to take a point away today.