I'm not a huge fan of 4-4-2 but I think it is formation that suits this team best. We played it in December and, although performances were not great, we got some decent results and looked a little bit better.
I was happy we went with it again on Friday night and I thought we have played worse than we did in the first half. We didn't look fantastic, but we should have (and I know this is a big issue) been ahead in the game.
Lose a goal, heads go down, wheels come off and we don't play with any urgency or cohesion until 15 minutes to go. We've seen it more that once.
I'm not one that thinks the players don't care or they are not trying. Some of them are just not very good, others are massively under performing. Also, confidence is huge in any sport and this team is totally devoid of any at the moment. The only way we will get more confident is to win games and that is easier said than done. The first step is getting clean sheets and this is obviously the main problem. The defence is woeful and how Penrice and O'Ware got awarded new long term contracts is beyond me. It'll be hard to find many Thistle fans that don't want Fox replaced with Sneddon and, although O'Connor seems to be highly rated by those at Celtic Park, he looks like a wee lost boy - maybe understandable giving the circumstances and surroundings he finds himself in. I've said a few times that Saunders is probably the best at defending at the club. It's when he gets the ball at his his feet that is the problem - a key element in being a professional footballer. It was interesting though that twice on Friday night, he gave O'Ware a complete rollicking for his mistakes. Not often you see a captain taking that from another player.
If the players in front of the defence have no confidence in them, they know they're going to have to score at least twice to win the game. We're already going out on to the park with a hill to climb and the team looks as if it is playing with fear every game. Touches and passes are poor and players look nervous from the start of every game. We all know how good Cole and Bannigan can be and the were two of the worst players on Friday night.
McCall has to put Sneddon back in to give him a chance. Keep a clean sheet or two and all of a sudden things change and confidence grows. Rudden coming back is key as, although Graham looks to be a good addition, he needs better support than Jones or Mansell can offer. I'd also give Austin a run ahead of Cardle. You can never fault Cardle's effort or work rate but it just isn't happening for him (looks as if he picked up a hamstring injury as well anyway).
I said last week - at this stage last season, I was still confident we would stay up but this season I just can't see it. I'm not optimistic but things can change very quickly, so I'm still hoping the team can prove me wrong.