The official website recently caught up with first-team boss John Coughlin to put forward to him a number of questions asked by fans via our social media channels.
The following is the first of a two-item special with the boss, who explained that he’ll be placing his faith in a young team next season after securing another two teenagers on development loan terms yesterday.
“We’re putting together a very young batch of players, a team full of energy. I’m confident that fans will be able to appreciate that, and give them fantastic support throughout their development and as we grow as a team.
“Our aim will be the same as it is every year – to win as many games as we can. I want the club to be at the right end of the table this year.
“I won’t make a prediction on where we’ll finish because it’s always difficult to predict how young players will do. Last year there was a sense of anticipation that I don’t think we matched.”
“We couldn’t get near certain sides, some of whom were spending silly money and frankly putting their club at risk. Money doesn’t guarantee success but it generally helps – spending money that you don’t have is a huge risk though. We’ll be doing the best with what we have – living within our means.
“So maybe we will have to be a little more measured in our expectations – and I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but it is the sensible way. That said – it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that the bookies have us at the longest odds to win the league.
“I’ve been doing this job for 20 years, and I’ve heard all kinds of predictions. It doesn’t mean a thing. For me, it’s not worth assessing until we’re nine games in, when we’ve had the chance to play every team, before speculating who might finish where.”
Moving back to the subject of his young team, Coughlin expanded on the successful Under 20 side which came close to winning the SPFL Development League East last season.
“We have some exciting prospects within the ranks, too. Jack Cook has signed a deal with us and will be in the first-team, I have high hope for him. I’m still looking to try tie Dan Watt up – he has a phenomenal work-rate and anyone who has watched him will know that; and we also have the likes of Jamie Chapman and Ewan Herriott sticking around. Jordan Orru also featured here and there last year, and has agreed terms again. ”
One youngster who won’t be back is Lee Hamilton, who has officially left the club following the expiration of his deal. The full-back is likely to complete a return to his former side Stirling Albion after featuring as a trialist in pre-season, and the club would like to wish him the best of luck in the future.
Coughlin, who admitted that he aimed to add balance to his defence after being left disappointed by his side’s efforts in 2016/17, finishes by expanding on how he’ll be looking to finish building his squad.
“I think you can see where I’m looking to improve the side from the signings I’ve made so far. We were poor defensively and that needed to be addressed. I’m sure the fans would like to see strikers coming in, but the reality is that we threw far too many points away last season because we didn’t defend correctly.
“I’m still on the lookout for another forward, but it’s likely to be dependant on whether I am able to access more funds, or move one or two on. I’d also like an injection of pace down our left flank – I think that’d help address the balance issues I’ve mentioned.
“I actually thought we weren’t too bad in the middle third and we were serviceable up top – but the table doesn’t lie. We simply have to improve from 1 to 11.”
Tune in later this week to hear more from the boss, who will provide his thoughts on everything from how he plans to help improve the club’s poor disciplinary record last season to his thoughts on criticism that the team’s set-up is often overly conservative and more.