Jim McInally has admitted he feels entirely responsible and guilty for Peterhead’s relegation last season – and he is determined to get the Blue Toon back up to League One at the first time of asking.
Looking back at last season, the 53-year-old said:
“I think it was disastrous to be honest. I certainly feel I had my worst ever season as a manager; the team we had, I don’t think we should have been relegated with the players we had, there was no excuses. Going back to the start of the campaign, we won our BetFred Cup section, we had been having a few good seasons and I think that culminated when we played Rangers in the Petrofac Cup Final at Hampden. I think then as a team, we struggled to reach those heights again as a team. In hindsight, I did try bring in 3 or 4 players to boost us but that season I couldn’t get them. I feel as if I have let the club down and that is the reason we have gotten relegated.”
Despite losing 12 players over the summer, McInally is pleased with the recruitment drive that has went on at Balmoor this summer.
“I felt it was imperative was freshened things up this season. That isn’t being disrespectful to those players that left; I was lucky to keep my job and I felt as though I had to start afresh and that is what we have done. The objective this season is to try and get ourselves back out of this league, although I know how hard that is going to be with the teams in the division. I am really happy with the squad we have assembled. We will run with a smaller squad – last season we had a bigger squad and I think it led to discontent as it is a long way to Peterhead to sit in the stand so this year I am going to run with 18 and that allows everyone to be apart of the squad: we have increased our quality, in depth, so even if we only have 14 or 15 senior players then at least we have a good quality of player. If we can keep lucky with staying clear of injuries and such like then we will hopefully do well.”
One player who has moved to the club is Nigerian Samson Gabriel, while McInally is also waiting on International Clearance before being able to play his new left-back recruit.
“I have been looking for the last few years for a midfield player who will go and press the ball. It is harder to find these types of players, it was the boy Cowie that I have been trying to replace. All younger players, coming through the Development squads, for example, they are all technical players, total footballers, whereas I am was looking for a player who would destroy the game a wee bit and break stuff up. Sammy has came in, we saw him play in 3 trial games, and has done fine. We can add him as a piece of the jigsaw to the team. We are just trying to get International Clearance for our left-back. He played in Slovakia last year, his name is Mikael Engango Deboko [DISCLAIMER: Spelling of the players name may be inaccurate] and he has been signed for a couple of weeks and we are just trying to find him somewhere to stay when he comes over now as well.”
Talking ahead of his side’s trip to Elgin tomorrow, McInally has been pleased with pre-season so far.
“The BetFred Cup, in terms of preparation, isn’t ideal for part-time players. It is good with the variety of games you get but if you look at it, this is the time of year where we can test players in a game environment as a trialist and while we were relatively lucky in that aspect this year, if you look at East Fife as an example, I saw they only had 2 or 3 substitutes the other night against Elgin, but with us being involved in the play-offs and having such a short break, our players didn’t lose much fitness: we are also lucky that the majority of our players go on holiday as soon as the season finishes, so we haven’t been hindered by that aspect either.”
Peterhead, League Two favourites?
“I don’t really care what the bookies say, to be honest, as what do they really know about Scottish League Two? I look at the teams who are in our division and, yes, we will have the biggest budget, but, there are a lot of good clubs: Stirling; Clyde, I can go through them all… they will all bring their own problems. Clyde have David Goodwillie playing with them, for example, and he is an international player. It’ll be an open league and it will be a lot of cut-throat, too. Personally, yes [for Peterhead going straight back up] but that is a pressure I have put on myself before; I feel as if I have been here a long time and Peterhead is my team now. I have been here nearly 7 years and I didn’t want to finish with a relegation. I came in when we were bottom of League Two, and I didn’t want to leave knowing that this would be my legacy. I know how tough it is going to be, but my personal aim is to get the team promoted again and I put that pressure on myself to make sure I do that.”
Hear more from Jim tomorrow on jordanburtfootball.com as he previews Peterhead’s away trip to Elgin City in the final match in the BetFred Cup Group Stages, with the Blue Toon still in with a shout of qualifying out of Group B.