We covered off who Greenock Morton were in the introductory post, and it now it’s time to find out how we’ve done.
I was planning to do an update around the half way mark of the season, but an abnormal amount of FM playing time for me over the weekend has meant I’ve fired through the entire 2015/16 season. So let’s get down to it, just how did we get on in the Scottish Championship?
Pretty bloody well! The primary aim was to stay in the league, we did much more than that.
We started the league like an absolute house on fire, and led the way after 7 victories in the first 7 games. The highlight of those being the 2-0 away win versus Hibs at Easter Road. Our first loss coming against Rangers at Cappielow, in front of over 6,000 fans which is great to see. At the half way point, we were sitting pretty in 2nd place, behind Rangers.
Results during the second half of the season don’t look as great. There was some cracking wins, including 2 wins over arch-rivals, St Mirren, with an aggregate scoreline of 7-0, plus another win at Easter Road, that included an 88th minute winner. There was, however, some disappointing defeats. The three losses on the trot against Livi, QoS and Rangers don’t make for good viewing, and by this point, Hibs were catching us and wanted 2nd place. A 4th loss in 5 games against Raith saw Hibs jump us, but we headed into the clash with them on the second last day of the season knowing that a win would see us go above them again and into 2nd (which ultimately, only gets you 2 less matches at the end of the season in the playoffs, but the financial benefit would have been nice!). An 81st minute own goal consigned us to a 1-1 draw after leading for most of the match which meant we’d be finishing 3rd, and entering into the playoffs.
If you aren’t familiar with the set up of Scottish football, the top tier is a relatively closed shop and the playoffs have only recently been reintroduced in the last few years. In the Championship, 4th and 3rd place play home and away fixtures against each other, and the winner of that then plays 2nd place home and away. The winner of that tie then comes up against the team that finished 11th in the Scottish Premiership, again home and away. Why they couldn’t just copy the English Championship rules defeats me, but this is Scottish football after all.
So anyway, the playoffs. Our arch-rivals, St Mirren, finished in 4th place which meant it’d be a Renfrewshire derby for the chance to face off against Hibs. I was hugely confident going into it, our record against them in the league during the season stood at 3 wins, 1 draw, 11 goals scored and 2 conceded.
I was right to be confident, as we blew them away 4-1 at St Mirren Park. 7,500 fans turned up to watch us progress to the next round of the playoffs with a 2-2 draw at home. Hibs up next…
And that’s where the season ends. A poor 3-1 defeat in front of over 8,500 fans at Cappielow was followed up by a late 1-0 loss in the away leg.
Reflecting on our performance in the league, from being predicted to finish 8th and with a personal aim of staying in the league, a 3rd place finish and a defeat in the promotion playoffs is a good achievement. Room to build on for next season!
Before I start calling out the players that performed well over the course of the season, I’ve got a confession to make. A confession that might seriously harm my, albeit very small, reputation as a respected FM player. Over the course of the season, I played with someone else’s tactic.
I know, it’s shocking. In the past, I’ve been the first to admit that I’m pretty much tactically clueless. After avidly watching Statistical Approach’s USV save (which if you haven’t checked out yet, you really need to), I was really impressed with the look and feel of the 4-3-3 tactic, thinking it’d be perfect for the players at my disposal with Morton. I took advantage of Luke making it available to download on Steam and went for it. I’m sure you’ll agree looking at the results above, it definitely worked a treat.
For season two, I have reverted to my previous 4-1-4-1. That being said though, I’ll completely understand if, after reading that confession, you now choose to close this screen and never visit the blog again.
Ending the season as fans player of the year, with a whopping average rating in the league of 7.61, is Michael Tidser.
Playing in the centre of midfield, he contributed a not too remarkable 4 goals and 8 assists in 40 games. A good player to have in the team, and vice-captain at the club, he’ll play another big role for the 2016/17 season.
However, it was really this guy that was the star of the season. Bobby Barr.
A standard, if unspectacular looking winger. All I really look for in a winger is acceleration and pace, and he’s not bad for those two attributes for the level we’re playing at. For goalscorers, I look at finishing and composure, both of which he has 9s for. Would you believe this guy scored 20 goals for us over the course of the season? Not just that, he laid on 17 assists too. It was an absolute travesty that he didn’t get our fans player of the season, but he did win the league player of the season award, and took the right wing slot in the league team of the season.
Aside from those two, our loanee strikers we spoke about in the introductory post, Denny Johnstone and Alex Samuel, chipped in with 15 and 17 goals respectively, over the course of the season too. Both have now gone back to their parent clubs for the 2016/17 season though.
Off the Pitch
I mentioned in the introductory post that funds are tight at this level of the game in Scotland. To be honest, funds are tight at any level in Scotland. Just under £2million was brought into the clubs funds across the 2015/16 season, with gate receipts totalling just under £800k of that. That’s in no small part down to Rangers and Hibs being in the same league, and with Renfrewshire derbies against St Mirren to contend. We also got a not-so-insignificant sum of £320k for finishing 3rd in the league.
That’s all well and good, but taking into account that we paid out £2.3million across the season, we’re in the red. Or, we would be in the red if we didn’t have Douglas Rae leading the club, the underwriter chairman. We’re one of the lucky clubs at this level, and his investment of just over £400k saw us break even for the season, exactly as expected. He can’t keep bankrolling the club forever, but unless the club reaches the Premiership and/or starts producing or buying players to sell on for a profit, we have to keep relying on his millions.
So that’s us, tying up the loose ends of the 2015/16 season. I’ll be making sure to get another post out detailing our summer transfer dealings along with our aims for the 2016/17 season.
If you’ve got this far and didn’t close the page after my shock tactical faux pas, thanks for reading!