Saints v Morton preview
By Stuart Gillespie
Updated Friday, 15th July 2011
Saints have an early chance to bag some silverware tomorrow night when they take on local rivals Morton in the Renfrewshire Cup Final in our only home game of the summer.
Saints have won this trophy five years running but, despite that, I think this game is a complete waste of time. It is little more than a glorified friendly to generate some cash for both teams that would be shunted back to the end of the season if both sides were in the same division. I am not bothered if we win or lose. My main hope is we make it through without picking up any injuries or suspensions.
And that has been a problem for us in the past. David Barron got injured in last year's game, while Brian McGinty was sent off in the 2004 encounter. Playing your rivals so close to the start of the season is just silly. It also brings out an element of supporters - and I lose the term loosely - from both sides that use the game as nothing more than an opportunity to have a Danny Dyer style bout of staring at each other and waving their arms about. These people have no place at our clubs and this game only encourages that.
Anyway, with that annual rant out of the way, it's on to tomorrow's game. Somehow, despite the pitch not being suitable for normal friendlies, it is suitable for this game every two years. As a result, it's a chance for the fans to get their first chance to see our new signings at home - and this year we have quite a lot of them. OK, so Paul McGowan isn't technically a new signing and we've had Graham Carey before, but Nigel Hasselbaink, Gary Teale, Steven Thompson and Graeme Smith are all new.
I'd almost be tempted to leave a few of them out of this one as it's just asking for them to get kicked, or to react to being booted by a Morton player. However, as this is almost a competitive game Danny Lennon may use it to field a side that won't be too far away from the one that starts the season against Dunfermline. With David van Zanten injured, the defence pretty much takes care of itself - with trialist Jeroen Tesselaar probably getting another run out at fullback as we await clearance from the Dutch FA.
However, with plenty of options in midfield I really have no idea who'll start there or up front. It would be nice if we're going to go with an attacking line-up of Carey and Teale on the wings and Thompson and McGowan or Hasselbaink up front - but that means the centre of midfield will have to be quite defensive. The only sure thing is both Aaron Mooy and Hugh Murray will be missing again due to injury.
This may not go down well on a St Mirren fan site, but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway. I think Morton can win the first division this season. There you go, it's out there. There's nothing outstanding about their squad, but they don't have money trouble and they haven't spent the summer searching for a new manager. Most of their opponents have had at least one of those to deal with this summer. Quite simply, it is that set of circumstances that gives Morton such a great chance to go ahead and win the first division. I'm fully prepared - almost willing - to be wrong, but I think they'll be up at the sharp end come May.
Saints have signed a number of attacking players over the summer and Allan Moore has done the same, signing plenty of strikers to replace former Saint and floodlight botherer Stewart Kean. One of those is Peter MacDonald, who we were linked with. He's not got it for the SPL anymore but could well do a job in the first division. Morton have also picked up Archie Campbell, who was quite handy for me in football manager, and Paul di Giacomo. They also have a few players with SPL experience, including Andy Graham and Colin Stewart, who were there last season. The makings of a good team are there - it's now just up to them to grab this chance to make themselves heroes - although preferably they won't start tomorrow.
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