Sunday, 24 July 2011

Raith Rovers Preview, Season 2011-12

Click here or read below for my prediction of how Raith Rovers will compete during the 2011/12 season. It was published in Scotzine. The 64 page magazine can be purchased here for just £1.

1. Who do you think will win the league this season?
Once again, the First Division is likely to be a tightly contested league. Ross County however, have added a number of different options in the summer which should propel their underachieving team into the title race this season. Colin McMenamin will be a welcome addition up front, Rocco Quinn should add some increased trickery in midfield, while Russell Duncan and Grant Munro will bring an abundance of experience required for maintaining a promotion push late in the season.

2. Other than your side, what club will you be watching closely?
It shall be interesting to observe how Dundee perform this season. Despite their twenty-five point deduction last term, the Dens Park side finished sixth and although they have lost Gary Harkins, Craig Forsyth and Leigh Griffiths they could well be an outside bet for the title.

3. Who do you think will be bottom of the league/destined for the drop?
Ayr United will most probably have the tightest budget next season and will be the only part-time club in the First Division, so you would expect the Somerset Park side to prop up the table. The ninth placed play-off position could be held by a number of teams, but whoever occupies it should be able to come out of the play-offs victorious due to their full time status.

4. Where do you think your club will finish in the league?
It is hard to predict where Raith Rovers will finish this season, due to the similar quality of all teams in the league. However, fifteen players left the Kirkcaldy club in the summer and with a limited number of players replacing the departed, I would expect Rovers to finish around mid-table this time around.

5. Who is the club's key player?
There are no stand out players in the Raith squad although experienced defenders Grant Murray and Laurie Ellis will be an important component of Rovers backbone. However, as the phrase goes, goals win games and therefore top striker John Baird will be the go-to guy when the team is struggling.

6. Hopes for the coming season?
This may come across as very defeatist, but staying in business is my main hope for the season. The fairly significant recent budget cuts were an unwelcome surprise and financial stability is paramount if Raith are to be around for the long run. On the pitch, I would hope Raith can be competitive all season and keep away from the bottom half of the table.

7. Fears for the coming season?
As above, I do worry about the finances of the club, but in more pressing terms I do have a slight fear that Raith could find themselves in a relegation battle this season. Losing experienced campaigners such as Mark Campbell, Stephen Simmons and Craig Wilson may just prove a little too much upheaval.

8. Whose player was the biggest waste of money from last season? And where is he now?
Former Kilmarnock striker Gary Wales was brought to Starks Park in November 2010, but would only go on to make seven appearances all season with a measly sum of just sixty-four minutes on the pitch. Wales was never able to get into a rhythm due to persistent injuries and ended up being a burden on the club's tight budget. As far as I know, Wales has been on trial at Queen of the South recently, but it appears unlikely he will be offered a contract by manager Gus McPherson.

9. Other fans think our club is....
Most fans appeared to praise Raith for overachieving last season after finishing second in the First Division, but the unsavoury style of football on show (labelled “hoofball” or “punt it down the channels”) is widely criticised.

10. What opposition player would you want to play for your club?
Dundee centre half Rhys Weston always impresses me when I see him. He is a superb defender for First Division level and it surprises me that he did not move elsewhere in the summer.

11. What opposition player would you love to see fail miserably?
I have no qualms with any player in the First Division although I am sure a few Rovers fans who disliked Simmons would like to see him fail at his new club Queen of the South.

12. Your manager's popularity out of 10 with the fans?
Despite leading Raith within touching distance of the SPL – an unbelievable feat- a minority of Rovers fans still find themselves bewildered by John McGlynn's supposed favouritism towards certain players and stubborn tactics. Therefore his popularity would be somewhere around 9/10.

13. What team would you select for the opening season for your club?
A home game against Dundee or Falkirk would bring a big crowd to Starks Park and thankfully Falkirk will indeed be visiting Kirkcaldy on the opening day of the season.

written by Will Lyon

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