We are going a bit ‘off reservation’ this week and bringing in a fan of a different team to give things a new perspective. It’s not like all of our gaffers have been Killie fans, not when they joined us at least, and as this guy originates from Glasgow he has got an excuse for not following the mighty.
That said, author David Ross, not to be mistaken with the other David Ross who is a Killie fan and writes historical tomes about football, has resided in Ayrshire’s finest town for many years and two of his best selling books (The Last Days of Disco and its follow up The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas) are based in and around a Kilmarnock that we all know and love. We can thoroughly recommend both titles as both hilarious and at the same time poignant and we were delighted that David agreed to take over the mantle from last week's Boss Ali Calder who may have called Obadeyi wrong but certainly gave us a bit of luck…
My qualifications for this task are slimmer than Michael Johnston's chances of the town being named after him. After all, I'm a Rangers fan... and, in an admission guaranteed to raise hackles, from way before the Annan Athletic 'trimmed privet hedge' era too. That said, I'm also really fond of Killie (the footballing entity AND the pie, as opposed to the ludicrous attempt to trademark the name) and I'd love nothing more than for them to prosper and develop in the top flight next season as part of a strong, people-orientated community which is very definitely on the rise.
So - armed with more taped episodes of Sportscene than is good for one man - here goes:
Goalkeeper: Jamie MacDonald
Tough on the lad Brennan after a clean sheet in the team's best performance of the season, but I'm dropping him for Jamie MacDonald, who's had a great season... besides which, I'm scared of Gordon Sawers!
LB: Lee Hodson
CB: Miles Addison
CB: Conrad Balatoni
RB: Mark O’Hara
Pretty tough to change a defensive structure that finally looks like it's playing with some positive momentum and organisational purpose... so I'm not going to. This is a vital game for Killie, and one which we (yes, WE...I'm all about the short-term commitment) absolutely must win. Therefore I'm expecting the full backs to work their socks off pressing forward, and also in keeping it tight at the back. Although I haven't watched every match - due to my essential scouting trips overseas - I was impressed by the two centre backs in last week's game at Hamilton.
DM: Julien Faubert
CM: Gary Dicker
RM: Kallum Higginbotham
LM: Greg Kiltie
Despite the team being a man down, I actually thought Faubert played well against ICT. He's composed on the ball as you would anticipate from someone who's played at a higher level in England. And even though he spent much of last week's game with Boyd's armband around his head, I thought Gary Dicker had a good game too. With Dicker operating slightly further forward, I think these two (along with young Kiltie) hold the key to winning the three points.
It's clear to see that Greg Kiltie has a big future ahead of him. He's a quick, confident kid and if the team start the way they finished in Hamilton, he'll be a real threat to the Thistle defence in what looks like being a crucial first thirty minutes or so.
Maybe a wee bit of a risk starting with Higginbotham out on the right of a four man diamond-shaped midfield, but he has been playing well and it strikes me that he is a bit more mobile and unpredictable than Rory McKenzie, but he'll need to work hard in this role and - like Kiltie and Hodson on the left - be tight with O’Hara to move the Thistle midfield around with some good movement and possession.
CF: Josh Magennis
CF: Kris Boyd
We're really going for it in the first half. Teams like ours (see... I'm really getting the hang of this now) operating on fragile levels of confidence need to capitalise on current positive vibes of a recent win and get ahead early in the game. Thistle are off the back of a bad loss and the two teams above Killie are going into the last three games with equal uncertainty.
So I've gone with Boyd and Magennis up front, supported by Kiltie and Higginbotham on either flank. I'm expecting a really fast-paced start and whilst that doesn't automatically suggest Kris Boyd's type of game, I'm relying on the ball being pressed early to keep it in the Thistle half. If Boyd and Magennis work hard and combine well, I'm hoping we go in ahead at the break and if we can keep a clean sheet at the back, Boyd might have done his job and could be withdrawn after an hour or so.
I hope I've done enough to see the team secure the win, and claw Thistle back into a fight which hopefully goes to the last day. I won't be in the Rugby Park dugout on Saturday. If I was, I'd surely get arrested since the Boss of Kilmarnock Football Club is a real job belonging to somebody else, and this is really just a bit of fun... but I'll be there in spirit, confident of success. And then straight round to MJ's office next week to pick up my substantial (imaginary) win bonus... just like Lee Clark.
Come on Killie!