Time to Regroup
Our season is slowly petering out as we approach our third last game of the season on the back of another hiding from the big Bhoys.
Having reached our peak in early December and sitting in second place in the league, three points ahead of Dundee United and Aberdeen and eleven points ahead of St Johnstone with a positive goal difference of +12; it's been all downhill from there.
Yogi's quest to play a passing game at all costs is not always bearing fruit and has been the subject of much debate on the forums, many fans doubting if his search for perfection will see him out of a job before we storm Europe. There are as many fans being more lenient and willing to give him time to blend his own style into the more robotic Butcherus horribilis formations and tactics and the rest are simply sitting on the fence waiting for nature to take it's course.
The question is how long do we wait. Hibs are not the only side in freefall. Butcher's replacement has split the fanbase and the long knives are starting to appear, although some were already out before Yogi signed on the dotted line. He needs a good finish to the campaign to give the doubters something to ponder over the close season and after last weeks hammering to nothing it doesn't get much tougher than the visit of high scoring Dundee United, a team who have already put five past us in the cup game.
United are second top scorers in the league with 62 goals, that's 20 more than us although the defences are almost identical in goals against. They sit four points above us but have a vastly superior goal difference of +19 against our -1. United can of course blow a bit hot and cold. Their 5-1 thrashing of Motherwell preceded by defeats to St Johnstone and Celtic and a drawn game with Aberdeen.
The last game between these two saw United just edge it with a 2-1 win. Ryan Gauld opened the scoring and Ryan Dow capitalised on a now familiar poor passback and keeper cock-up combination. Inverness were always in this one though and United had to cling on after Liam Polworth scored a spectacular 35 yarder to set up a tense finish. That was a fabulous strike from Polworth, one of the best goals of the season. Billy McKay almost rescued the game for Inverness but a late diving header just missed the target and United kept all three points.
Inverness have been heavily criticised by their own fans for their dismal showing at Parkhead last week, seemingly not learning from the previous spanking, a 5-0 doing a month ago. However, in mitigation, we were dealt a poor hand prior to the game when Raven pulled out injured and Watkins called off with a bug. James Vincent was also not fit enough to play and Richie Foran had already played his last game this season being injured a month ago. So, it's possibly not as bad as it appears on the surface, but for many fans, it was another nail in the managers coffin and the shoes could be off if we fail to produce in our last two home games. It could make for a long close season if things go awry.
Yogi is hinting that our budget for new faces could be minimal for next season. So, nothing new there! With exciting talent like Ryan Christie breaking into the first team squad along with Liam Polworth and Nick Ross then maybe all is not lost. Along with SPFL nominees Ryan Gauld, Stuart Armstrong and young Player of the Year Andrew Robertson, this weekend could display the way forward for Scottish football with plenty young starlets in both teams.
Inverness should have David Raven and James Vincent back in the squad as both have been training this week, and Marley Watkins has recovered from the bug that kept him out of the Celtic game. Richie Foran is out.
Dundee United will have an unchanged squad and teenagers Ryan Gauld and John Souttar could be recalled, having been rested in the 5-1 win over Motherwell. This means that on-loan Newcastle defender Curtis Good and centre-back Calum Butcher are still out.
tm4tj prediction:- Well, United can be scary at times and we will need to be at our best to keep them at bay. Nadir Ciftci has been in tremendous form lately and when United are in full flow then there's no finer sight in Scottish football. Inverness can be scary too, unfortunately not in the same way as United, although we do have our moments. We need our defence to get back to basics and our midfield to regroup. It has been posted missing recently and Billy McKay is often left isolated. When we do get men forward to help him, we reap the rewards and if Doran and Watkins can stay fit and wide then maybe, just maybe we can put ourselves back in the hunt for fourth place, but it will not be easy. I'm going against the grain here and looking for a 1-0 home win with United possibly having one eye on the Scottish Cup Final.