Blogs & Opinion


Andy Walker says Inverness can challenge for second until end of season

St Johnstone - Andy Walker Posted 1st April 2013 view comments

When Terry Butcher changed the make-up of his team at the end of last season, we all wondered if Inverness Caley Thistle would struggle for the flair and goals required to be successful in the SPL.

How wrong we were.

On Friday night, Butcher's new-look side entertain Steve Lomas' St Johnstone at the Tulloch Stadium in front of the Sky cameras having already amassed an impressive 50 points this season.

Inverness: surprise stars of SPL

Inverness: surprise stars of SPL

Tucked in behind Motherwell, Caley Thistle have every chance of catching Stuart McCall's men and finishing runners-up to Celtic.

I have to say their consistency has taken me completely by surprise.

After opening the new campaign with three draws, I watched them lose 4-2 at home to Celtic and when they shipped another four goals in their next league match at Motherwell, the likelihood was another scrap to avoid relegation.

The truth is that by changing the make up of his squad and having success with a new group of players, Butcher has now reached the stage when he can trust his men to challenge Motherwell all the way to the end of the season.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

Live on Sky Sports

Inverness CT v St Johnstone
7.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports 1 HD

Kenny Gillet, Johnny Hayes, Ross Tokely and Gregory Tade had all been regular first-choice picks but Butcher chose to change things around by bringing in players who needed a fresh challenge.

Gary Warren and Daniel Devine are just two of Butcher's new recruits and their influence has meant that they're a much stronger defensive unit.

Warren was plying his trade at Newport County before Butcher offered him the chance to shine in the SPL and he's become one of their leaders.

20-year-old Devine initially joined up til the end of the season in January but the former Preston, Fleetwood and Wrexham player has recently penned a new two-year deal.

The truth is that by changing the make up of his squad and having success with a new group of players, Butcher has now reached the stage when he can trust his men to challenge Motherwell all the way to the end of the season.

Andrew Shinnie and top scorer Billy Mackay have also been rewarded with international recognition from Scotland and Northern Ireland, a sign to all the players in the dressing room that if performances are consistently high in the SPL, you can get your rewards.

Consistent

My own view is that Richie Foran has been the most consistent of the lot. Whether as a frontman or as someone playing much deeper, Foran has all the experience to make the rest of them tick.

Qualifying for European football would be a magnificent achievement for everyone in Inverness and naturally, Butcher's success hasn't gone unnoticed.

The Caley boss turned down the offer of a return to management in England when Barnsley came calling in January following the sacking of Keith Hill.

Lengthy discussions took place when the board gave the Yorkshire club permission to speak to the former England captain.

Doncaster Rovers were also keen to lure him back south but Butcher's lifestyle and the happiness he gets from living and working in the Highlands meant he stayed on in the hope of ending a memorable season with their highest place ever.

It won't be easy against St Johnstone though. A win for Steve Lomas and his men will mean they too will fancy their chances of finishing the season on a high.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Latest News RSS feeds

Premier League round-up

Southampton moved into second in the Premier League on a bad day for champions Manchester City.

Man United v Chelsea preview

Manchester United will aim to prove their own title credentials when they welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford on Super Sunday.

Real romp to Clasico victory

Real Madrid staged a stunning El Clasico fightback to overcome arch-rivals Barcelona 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu.

Liverpool held by Hull

Liverpool failed to score at Anfield for the second straight game as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Hull City.

Sunday's Paper Talk

Liverpool set to face competition from Tottenham for signature of West Brom's Saido Berahino in January, plus more from the papers.

Features

Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala still finding his feet in the Premier League but time is of the essence

Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala still finding his feet in the Premier League but time is of the essence

A frustrating week for Manuel Pellegrini was compounded by Manchester City's 2-1 defeat at Upton Park as Diafra Sakho secured three points for West Ham with his sixth strike in seven Premier League matches.

Manchester United v Chelsea: If Jose Mourinho's team go to Old Trafford and win the Invincibles talk will be no joke

Manchester United v Chelsea: If Jose Mourinho's team go to Old Trafford and win the Invincibles talk will be no joke

Cesc Fabregas was adamant when asked the question. Could Chelsea remain unbeaten? “No, no, this is a joke. This is a joke. There will only be one team who can do that - the Arsenal Invincibles team of 2003.” Respectful of his former club’s achievement and downplaying expectations.

Louis van Gaal versus Jose Mourinho: In their own words and the words of the players who know them both well

Louis van Gaal versus Jose Mourinho: In their own words and the words of the players who know them both well

Sir Bobby Robson is rightly credited as the man who helped launch Jose Mourinho’s astonishing career, but when the veteran manager was moved upstairs at Barcelona in 1997, the future of his Portuguese coach was uncertain.