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Little time for reflection as players weigh up futures

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Jack Ross | 12:12 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

As the season ends, managers and players will allow themselves time for reflection upon their respective successes and failures.

However, these regressive thoughts will be brief as almost immediately everyone in the game begins preparations for the forthcoming campaign.

The contractual situation of a player will determine the types of decisions he has to make over the summer months.

Those under contract will simply concentrate on being in good physical condition for their return to their current club, or perhaps be fortunate enough or good enough to be the subject of transfer bids and therefore have to cope with the pressures such attention will bring.

However, for an ever-growing number of players, freedom of contract will apply and thus they will make a choice as to whether to remain where they are or to utilise their position and seek fresh challenges.

I would imagine that the most cynical would say that these decisions are easy for a player to make as money talks and they will simply go where the salary is greatest.

falkirkbench595.jpgIn my experience, it is not always as clear cut as this and especially now in the SPL where, in respect of wages, there is very little between the majority of the teams.

If the financial aspect is removed from the equation then what other factors will determine the decision making of a player?

Facilities will definitely be considered, with those clubs with their own training bases undoubtedly in a more advantageous position.

I have been fortunate in that my last two SPL clubs have had their own training grounds, with Falkirk's base at Stirling University being a major asset to the club, and St Mirren's recent move to Ralston being a massive improvement from what we had previously.

Further possible attractions for a player are of course the calibre of the management team and playing squad. In this respect, the previous ability displayed will sway a player, along with the personality and ambition shown by the manager when you meet.

I am not denying that players will be influenced by financial gain, but rather trying to offer the opinion that players are not as mercenary as sometimes portrayed and that a number of professional considerations will impact upon their choice.

Once a player opts to join a certain club there are of course no guarantees for success, but the summer months are usually an exciting time for supporters as they await news on who will remain with their team or which new faces will arrive.

If you are a player who is moving on, then often you will leave a club with fond memories and a good deal affection for that side.

In this sense, I was really disappointed to see two of my former clubs relegated this season.

In the case of Falkirk, I must confess that I was delighted that we were one of the clubs safe at their expense and celebrated as much as anyone when my good friend Stephen O'Donnell headed the equaliser last week.

However, once our SPL status was secured I would have preferred them to stay in the league - as I enjoyed some great times there and have a number of friends at the club, both on the playing and non playing side. I am sure the infrastructure they have in place will allow them every opportunity to return quickly to the top flight.

Clyde were fantastic for me in allowing me a second opportunity at senior football and I will always cherish being allowed to captain a team with such a historic name in Scottish football.

As they drop into the bottom tier I believe that with Neil Watt and the new coaching team in place they will soon begin a climb back through the leagues.

Of course, for both these sides and of course my own team St Mirren some rebuilding will soon take shape. Start the revolving doors!


  • Comment number 1.


    What would you say the successes and failures of St Mirren have been this season? Obviously reaching the League Cup Final was a major success but then failing to beat 9 men was a failure. Also, having only won 2 of the last 20 league games, would you still say this season has been a successful one for St Mirren?

    You mentioned the different attractions for a player, what attracted you to come to St Mirren?

    Will you be taking advantage of your own freedom of contract this summer and moving on or do you plan to stay on at St Mirren?

    Finally, Billy Mehmet is a legend. Do you think he will still be at St Mirren next season?

  • Comment number 2.

    Jack, I enjoy reading your blogs and this is another interesting insight into the mentality of the modern player in the bosman era. As a Rangers supporter this topic is particularly interesting to me right now as there are several players in the position you have described. With a couple of them the option is to go down south to possibly a mid table side and double their money, or stay with the club where they might win more medals and play in Europe. From this perspective what would you say is more important to players in this position? You mention facilities, management etc but if you were in this position would the lure of champions league, medals and 50,000 fans be enough to sway u or would u feel the chance of a shot at the premiership would be too great to turn down?

  • Comment number 3.

    Didn't take long for the revolving doors to start spinning; your team of the year striker Mehmet has already went to Gençlerbirliği. Shame, I'd really have liked to seen him stay on as he was an amazing trier and, despite not scoring much, was a good threat to opposition teams and scored some important goals! He got the league clincher against Dundee, the equaliser against Motherwell in our first season up, the cup winning penalty against Celtic, the opener against Falkirk in the game that kept us up last season, and the semi final winner against Hearts. He was definitely there when we needed him. I really do wish him all the best in Turkey.

    I imagine we'll be losing players like Andy Dorman and yourself pretty soon as well - I'm not sure how we're going to be able to replace the three of you (although I suppose David Barron will definitely soften the blow if you do leave) and any more that leave.

    Here's hoping Gus can pull something out the bag and bring in players capable of keeping us going - or re-signs some of the better players who are now out of contract!


  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for the replies.

    Re comments 1 and 3. Undoubtedly, reaching the cup final was a significant achievement and a highlight but losing the final was a major disappointment. In terms of the league, as a squad of players our ambition was to be further up the league than where we finished so in that respect we feel we underachieved. However, given the circumstances going into the split- ensuring SPL football and providing a platform for a better league position is a decent achievement.

    I was delighted to get the opportunity to come to St Mirren with Gus and Andy Millen playing a big part in my decision. I knew from other players of their capabilities and have certainly not been disappointed. The past two seasons have been fantastic for me, and the players, management and supporters have helped me achieve two career highlights in a Scotland B cap and a cup final appearance!

    Comment 2, the decision a player makes can also be influenced by the stage of his career and previous achievements. For example, if a player has been fortunate enough to be at a big club from a young age and won medals, played in Europe etc. then a new challenge will appeal. Personally, I think the chance to play in the Premiership is a hugely difficult opportunity to turn down.

  • Comment number 5.

    Firstly, as a st.mirren fan and you being my favourite player, i will be gutted if you leave!
    Secondly, i just want to find out your thoughts or experiences on the coaching process. My main sport is netball and ive competed at national level, however i also coach part time and study it at uni. During my time playing nationally the coaching sessions were more fitness based than skill based,and for this level i think skill based sessions are more beneficial for the players. As a footballer whats your thoughts?
    Also performance analysis if you use this (as a coach or athlete), is this a positive aspect for performance? whats your preferred method of feedback?
    Lastly, do you have set programmes for areas such as nutrition, mental skills, strength and conditioning, speed etc.
    Thanks Jack, all the best!

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not sure if I would call the revolving door of players exciting. I'm absolutely dreading next season. I really fear for St Mirren without you, Andy Dorman and BILLY MEHMET! No disrespect to the remaining players. I'm gutted he's going, really gutted but I wish him well.
    We did have a great season, the cup final was both amazing and heartbreaking but we got to a cup final! The Celtic win was phenomenal!!!!!!!!!!
    A last plea - PLEASE DON'T GO JACK! But if you do all the best.
    Have a great summer.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'll be absolutely gutted if you go Jack.

    Our squad is getting older and it won't be long till there are fresh young players about, however I think you would be a valuable player for them to watch and learn from.

    Just a wee reflection of the season..
    I've never known to have been Gus's biggest fan however I have recently really started to realise I have been taking advantage of all that Gus & Andy has done for us. The cup final was a tremendous occasion in itself, and one I will never ever forget. Although it did rip me apart I cannot fault the players or the management for the performance. The pressure was off us for the whole game until Rangers had two men sent off, we couldn't handle the pressure, the players never gave up the whole match and just couldn't break Rangers down. The bounce back ability everyone showed was remarkable.

    Beating Celtic 4-0 is another night I will never forget, this time however one I can look back to with a smile stretched from one ear to the other.

    Staying up was obviously the most main aim and i'm over the moon to we have managed to stay in the SPL for another season however I would of hoped to be a position or two higher, but oh well there's always next season!

    Concerning the departure of Billy Mehmet, although it was expected it still didn't soften the blow, very sad indeed after everything he has done for the club, puts 100% in at all times and I'm sad to see him go. Don't think I can face both Billy, Andy and yourself going.

    Jack if it turns out that you don't play again in the black and white stripes then I wish you the best of luck & hope your rehab is going well.

    Jacko must stay!

  • Comment number 8.

    well thats gus gone :(

  • Comment number 9.

    an interesting read indeed, not to sure about the choice of picture or is that just another wee dig at the bairns exit of the spl.
    I wonder who the new manager of st mirren will be and will the budgets match his ambition, could it be mark magee, craig brown ,jim jeffries,jimmy calderwood or big yogi, they must be due a chance to manage at st mirren or even magnificent walter smith who somehow managed to win the league with a shoe string budget, wait a minute, aren't rangers full of current internationals being paid good money, they should be winning leagues and trophies.
    i hope st mirren pick a youthful manager and not one who's been round the block a few thousand time's .
    i was disappointed that falkirk went down, they show how a club should be run behind the scenes and the club do their best to bring through good young players from their academy, and a manager who doesn't care what the establishment think and contrary to what jimmy calderwood and now p45'd gus macpherson said, has never been disrespectful and was totally focused on football but alas that doesn't guarentee survival. A goal scorer guarentee's you survival.

    good luck jack, hope the close season is good to you.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can't believe Gus has been sacked! I seen you on TV talking about it Jack but didn't hear what you said as my gran talked the whole way through! So what are your thoughts??
    Also gutted that Billy is gone! But of course wish him well!
    I want to have Ross no. 2 on the back of my shirt again next season so please stay with us!!! :D :P
    And with regard to players leaving clubs for money...look at Novo...he claims he loves Rangers and their fans so much but the club can't pay enough for him so he won't renew his contract!

  • Comment number 11.

    Thanks for the added comments.

    Re Comment 5, Lauren I would agree that at national level, the sessions would be better based on technique and tactics as you would assume that the players deemed good enough for that level would have a high base fitness level.

    With respect to your other questions, I enjoy the pro zone stats as a method of performance analysis as it captures a player's time in possession, passes made/completed etc-this combined with a DVD of the game is what I have used recently. The best programmes I had for nutrition, strength conditioning etc was at Falkirk where their tie in with Stirling Uni was beneficial in this sense and the dietician the club used was excellent. I have continued to follow some of these methods, with my only criticism being that in football in Scotland it still seems difficult for clubs to tailor individual programmes for players.

    Was hugely disappointed to see Gus leave as I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for him and Andy Millen, and their achievements at St Mirren.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for replying Jack. I have quite a few debates with people about bringing in high level coaches at grass roots level instead of just the high level coaches teaching at national level etc. And the sessions that are carried out.
    As for performance analysis would the methods you use apply to netball? I`m thinking about using performance analysis and such to find areas of my performance that i need to work on.
    And any advice on nutrition and hydration and such? for matches and training?
    Thanks Jack, much appreciated.

  • Comment number 13.

    i know its not something professionally you would comment on jack but i suspect the current boards lack of ambition i.e. re-investing in the squad led to Gus's departure.
    there are afew buddies that have long called for gus's head. but i have always asked who would you get in thats better?
    theres plenty of hasbeens plying their trade round the clubs (most of them called Jim)but they are not the future. if a takeover ever comes off i very much hope the new board will look forward and not backwards when making an appointment.
    its obvious Gilmour etc don't even want to commit to bringing someone in temporarily in case it costs £5 or so. again not good for the new season, the club needs stability and someone given time to get a squad together for the new season. lets not forget we had the smallest squad before players could move on bosmans.
    Jack chin up old boy, get the foot - fit and do whats best for you.
    take care

  • Comment number 14.

    Comment 12-probably a little difficult to recommend an analysis tool for netball as I must confess to not having a great knowledge of the sport! However, use any stats or footage that are available, and seek advice from other experienced players or coaches whose judgement you trust. A final point is be careful not to over analyse as a significant degree of ability and game awareness will have taken you to a high level so there has to be a certain amount of trust in your own judgement and talent!

    Comment 13, thanks to you and other Saints for their best wishes-it will cerainly be an interesting close season!

  • Comment number 15.

    Cool, thanks for your input. Some useful info. Good luck with pre season and whatever you decide to do....although your skin tone only suits black & white stripes :)
    Best of luck, Jack.
    P.s Hope you keep posting.



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