‘Making progress but could do better’ is how Ray McKinnon assesses his Bairns side’s start to the Ladbrokes SPFL League One campaign.
The Bairns sit third in the league, three points behind leaders Raith Rovers and a point off East Fife in second.
A goal difference of 12 - boosted significantly by the August drubbing of Dumbarton – is the best in the league and having conceded just four goals, the defence is the best in Britain.
Yet there’s still murmurs of discontent from the support, frustrated by the style seen in some encounters and results of others like Clyde and Airdrie. The Bairns have scored 16 – just two more than the Dumbarton side they thumped, and less than both Fife sides.
And so boss is also looking for a little more from his players – and says there’s room for improvement.
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“The first quarter’s gone well, but of course it could be better. But there’s improvement in our team, that’s for sure, and that’s a positive sign. Improve another 10 percent or 15 per cent and we’ll give ourselves a good chance,” the manager said.
“We’ve been fairly settled and tweaked it now and again. We changed it [against Raith Rovers] and I think it worked extremely well for us in the first period, or 60 minutes, but we keep looking at formations and whichever one to win the game, that’s what we’ll go with.”
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An unconvincing August was followed by two fairly comfortable 3-0 victories before draws with the top two sides in recent weeks, but having now played all of the teams in the division, the Bairns know what’s in store from each.
“I’ve not really been surprised about the league,” McKinnon went on, “but it takes a bit of understanding to get to grips with the league. Teams come and raise their game against us. That’s normal, there’s big crowds at our games and we have to accept that and deal with it and I think the team has got better at that as the weeks have gone on.
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“At the start of the season everyone expected us to turn people over. Football’s not like that. There are a lot of good players in this league, look at the Raith team.
“The squad understand how this league works now, we’ve played a quarter of it, in the last two games we’ve had two draws and probably could have won both on performances. That’s the frustration but the positive is that the performances indicate they could win these games.
“That’s key for moving forward into the second quarter. But no, I’d say there’s been no surprises for me, but there’s room for improvement in our squad.”
McKinnon said last week he’d re-assess the league table at Christmas time, at the end of the second quarter.