Survival of the fittest
It's Halloween weekend and guisers Dundee FC come to the Highlands dressed as footballers in the hope that they can find Inverness Caledonian Thistle ready to dish out more gifts. We will be kitted up like patients at Raigmore.
It's been a rough fortnight for Inverness after the euphoria of back to back league wins over Aberdeen and Ross County. Since then, we have lost two home games in a row. We went down insipidly to 10 man St Johnstone and were easily knocked out of the League Cup by derby rivals Ross County. Defeats are hard enough to take on their own, but the manner of these defeats has alarm bells ringing at the Caledonian Stadium. Against the Perth Saints, we were clueless as to how to break them down and the visiting keeper could have stayed in Perth. The County game was similar although we started brightly and finished strong, but the middle section of the game belonged to County and that was when the match was won. Once more, the lack of a cutting edge was evident as we struggled badly to create clear opportunities.
Visitors Dundee have not exactly been a pillar of consistency themselves. They suffered a 6-0 thrashing from Celtic and their only win since then was against fellow strugglers Motherwell. That's one win in the last five for Dundee, but its still enough to keep them ahead of Inverness. They sit three points and two places above us in seventh place.
We can't really complain about our league position given our lack of goals and reluctance to have a go at teams. I suppose it's a reflection on our lack of depth due to a lengthy injury list, but there comes a point where those given the opportunity have to grab the chance and stake a claim for a regular starting berth, even when the sidelined players return. Liam Polworth has had a few starts now and should be asserting himself in the engine room and Carl Tremarco needs to make the Graeme Shinnie slot his own as our purse strings seem reluctant to open any further.
We drew the earlier game at Dens Park, surrendering an early lead to come away with a disappointing draw. Kane Hemmings popped in a last minute equaliser after David Raven had opened the scoring for Inverness earlier in the second half. We were unable to build on that and suffered a not unexpected lapse, a trait that seems to replicate itself this season.
There's plenty of speculation surrounding the future of John Hughes. The silence was deafening after the board refused United permission to speak to Yogi, but the speculation is still rife as we appear no closer to getting the gaffer signed up on a new contract, fuelling the fires of discontent amongst the fans. At the last count, Yogi was said to be considering his options of the new contract, but has plenty to think about.
He has been quoted on BBC Sport as saying
"[It's] right down to trying to recruit players and budgets," he explained.
"That's all part and parcel of me staying at this club, 100%.
"I'm quite sure there might be one or two players that are out of contract and want to see what the manager does before they commit.
"But I'm honest enough to say this; I would never hold a gun to anyone's head at Inverness to say, 'I want to make sure that this is the budget next year'.
"I knew when I came up here I was working with the budget I was working with. It's never changed.
"It's just before you sign that contract just getting to know exactly what tools you're working with next year. I don't want to sign a contract and something gets taken away.
"I have to speak to my wife and family. I've been away for a long, long time and that's a big part of it as well but I love it up here."
We have made cuts elsewhere. The nice lady that always appeared to be in control when you entered the club shop has not had her contract renewed, instead the club look as though they are going down the part-time route. Quality or quantity? Just like on the park, you can't replace quality players like Billy 'small k' Mckay, Marley Watkins or Graeme and Andy Shinnie with inferior products and expect the consistency to continue. Well, it's the same in the club shop. We need leaders on and off the park and it's time this whole sorry mess is sorted before it's too late.
Inverness have more misery piled on them this week with the news that Miles Storey might not make the squad. He could join the others on the temporary list like Ross Draper, Andrea Mutombo, Tobi Sho-Silva and Dani Lopez. Looking further away, Gary Warren, Aaron Doran, Richie Foran, Dean Brill and Jordan Roberts are long term shirkers. It really is a case of the survival of the fittest. I sometimes wonder if they are still on our books. Meh!
Jake McPake has been injured in training and misses out. He is joined on Dundee's short list by Julen Etxabeguren and Kevin Thomson.
tm4tj Prediction:- Surely we won't screw it up three home games in a row? Or will we. We are running out of players fast as injuries ravage our squad. Injuries on top of more injuries. It's like a broken record now but we will just have to get on with it. Who knows who will be fit enough to turn out for us, but let's hope they can at least make the opposition work hard for their point. I'll settle for a draw out of this to help us get back on track. The damage done so far will take a while to repair and we will just have to take small steps before we can think about running.
0-0 is my best guesstimate.