It feels like a long time since the last Morton update, in which we detailed what it took, in my eyes, to be a Morton player. The 2020/21 season is now over, and as you can probably tell from the title of this post, we’re going to delve into a summary of it. Of course, the structure of this update will be led by the 2020 Vision, which you’ll be reminded of and that will be outlined in each section. If you want to though, you can have a read of it in full here.
Finish, at least, in the top 3 of the Scottish Premiership each season.
I mentioned when I initially outlined this aim that I was potentially being unambitious. I still believe that isn’t the case though. Rangers and Celtic are both huge clubs, and theoretically on paper, it should be either of them winning the league each season. Since we arrived into the Scottish Premiership in 2017/18, that hasn’t been the case. In the three seasons since, we’ve each won a league title. How did the 2020/21 season pan out, and who would take the lead on titles won?
Mission accomplished. We fought our way to the league title. It wasn’t all easy, and we had a truly horrific start to the season. 2 wins in 14 games saw us languishing in the bottom half up until the start of December. A swift change in tactic and approach, and we went on a remarkable run of form, only dropping 5 points between the start of December and the end of the season. It wasn’t defeats at the start of the season that nearly killed us though, it was draws. To lose only 4 times in the league, and just look at that defensive record, just 20 goals conceded, both brilliant stats. Rangers certainly won’t be happy, they led the league for the majority of the season, having a wobble in the last 8 games, only winning 3 of them. That opened the door for us, and we duly obliged, beating Celtic on the final day to take home the title. How does this affect that average points table since we were promoted to the top tier?
Leading the way. Over our 4 seasons in the Premiership, we’re averaging 2.02 points per game. Just look at how tight both of the last 2 seasons have been in terms of the gap between top and second, proving it can go any way each season. Domestically though, we dominated…
Greenock Morton, 2020/21 treble winners has a nice ring to it don’t you think? That’s right, we won the League Cup and the Scottish Cup as well as the Premiership. Just to hit home one of the annoyances of Scottish football, we played Celtic 6 times over the course of the season. Although, I’m sure our fans are just as delighted every time we beat them!
Our domestic success this season means we’re now ranked the top team in Scotland, reputation-wise. That’s pretty outstanding, but in my head, we’re still battling to get up to the same level of playing field as Rangers and Celtic. In my eyes, they’re still the top dogs of Scottish football. As ever for this section, it leads us nicely onto the next part of the 2020 Vision.
Grow the Greenock Morton fan base.
It’s all about growth. Being ranked the top team in the country is great, but unless that corresponds into more fans through the gates, more money in the bank, and more success on the pitch, it doesn’t mean anything.
Annoyingly, due to the game being useless at keeping past records of things that could be very useful to look back on for us content creators, we’ve only got last seasons data to go on here. But it makes for some good viewing.
Our average attendance (in the league) grew by over 9% in the 2020/21 season compared to the 2019/20 one. This was also despite our previously mentioned horrific start to the league campaign. An almost 15% growth in season ticket holders is a great figure, and I have a feeling that’ll only grow again for the 2021/22 season. There were three parts to this aim, we’ve covered the first two and they’ve been achieved, growth in average attendance and season ticket holders. The third part is a tricky one though, increase the capacity of Cappielow.
You can see above that we’ve got an 11,589 capacity. What that table doesn’t tell you, and what I mentioned in the original 2020 Vision post, is that we’ve only got 5,741 seats. This infuriates me because we have to play our big European matches away from Cappielow, at St Mirren Park, the home of our fiercest rivals. The board continually reject my advances to increase the stadium’s capacity, all I’m asking is for a few more seats so we can play at home in Europe! Still work to be done on this aim.
Establish a Scottish core.
There was a few separate parts to this aim as well. First up was establishing that Scottish core within the squad.
The core has been established. As I outlined, I’m more than happy to bring in players from other clubs for this aim, as well as integrating players from the Morton youth system. Fox in goals, and Henry at DM are both Morton youth products, Willis (CB), Gempf (CM) and Fleming (ST) are all young prospects brought in from other clubs, and I’ve also included some older players here, names you’ll maybe be familiar with in Kieran Tierney at left back, and Ryan Christie in the right wing slot. These are the Scottish players that will be in and around the first team squad, with some playing a bigger role than others. You’ll hear more about a few of them later on.
Secondly, facility improvement. The youth facilities improvement outlined in the original 2020 Vision post was completed, and they’re now deemed as ‘great’. Alongside this, we’ve got above average youth recruitment, and good junior coaching. I’ll be looking to improve both of these areas at the club as a next step. Internal improvements were also identified on the coaching staff. Any coaches not with an A licence or above would be sent on a coaching course, and I’m pleased that the board has only recently finally approved my request to send our only current coach not fitting that criteria on a coaching course to get his next licence up.
Lastly on this aim, a change in approach to scouting was outlined. I’m going to call out a slight fail on this one. Other than any moves that we’ve already called out in previous posts (specifically the signing of Gempf), only 2 other players have signed for the club through the Scottish scouting network I’ve implemented so far. It can be very tricky at times to really spot talent, and where improvements are going to be made attributes-wise, even after getting a couple of scouting reports and taking a look at players yourself. It’s quite often after they’ve had a few more years of development under their belt, that you can really gauge how much a player is going to develop. But, as I’ve found already with the signings of Gempf and Willis, cash will have to splashed once this stage is reached under the ‘Scottish premium’ rules that FM seems to implement. It was rather slim pickings on first look around the clubs after youth intake day, but we’ll plug away again in the upcoming season, and see what we can unearth around the country.
What does a Morton player look like?
This question was, hopefully, well and truly answered in the last post. I introduced you to the attributes I believed important to what I’m trying to achieve at Morton, if you need a brief reminder, here they are.
The post explained how, going forward, I’d be evaluating the vast majority of my incoming transfers up against these 7 attributes, and benchmarking them against a current group of my best prospects at the club, who’re in and around my first team squad. Furthermore, this group of players would be closely monitored and constantly evaluated on their improvement against these attributes. Let’s take a look at how they’ve improved over the course of the 2020/21 season.
David Willis – had a great first season with the club, and hugely contributed to the league low of 20 goals conceded, making 27 starts. He’s improved by just over 1% in terms of my preferred set of attributes, and he’ll continue to play a major part in the side next season.
Jordan Henry – had the least amount of game time of the 4 players, only starting 1 league game, but making 20 appearances overall in all competitions. Being in and around the squad though has had a good impact though as he’s improved by 2.6% in his overall average attribute rating.
Ian Fleming – similar to Henry, he didn’t make a huge impact on the starting line up. It took him a while to score his first goal for the club, albeit he had to contend with mostly sub appearances due to the form of what I’d say was our ‘main’ striker at the club, Portuguese newgen, Bernardo Brito. Ended the season with 4 goals from 13 starts in all competitions, however factoring in another 16 appearances from the bench, it’s not great numbers. He did make a 1.25% improvement though attributes-wise.
Comrad Gempf – the undoubted pick of this bunch and our most highly rated prospect at the club. An average rating of 7.43 across the season from 37 appearances in all competitions, which goes some way to repaying the £3m outlay at the beginning of the season. Set the standard for percentage improvements as well, 3% up across the season.
That’s a somewhat brief run through of the 2020/21 season at the club. The most successful one in the club’s history. I could have gone on forever and really outline more of the key players and moments of success across the season, but wanted to keep it relatively short and very sweet, following the aims detailed in the 2020 Vision. If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading and bring on the 2021/22 season, in which we’ll go straight into the Champions League group stages!