Stevie Crawford made an encouraging start to the post-season with yesterday's news that 9 out of contract players would not be offered new contracts, while the 4 on-loan players would all return to their parent clubs. This is exactly what was required after a poor season characterised by lifeless performances and defensive tactics largely employed due to lack of trust in the available players. Too many players treated games in March as if they were the type of meaningless end of season game that was played out at Inverness in May. A top 4 place was there for the taking and yet we narrowly avoided relegation, helped by other teams' results going in our favour in the final 2 weeks.
As I have mentioned several times in this site, a complete overhaul was required and so it was very pleasing to see such quick and decisive action taken yesterday. Releasing fewer players would have watered-down any hopes of a new start.
Here is a run-down of who was released, plus comments on the other out of contract players who were not included in the list and so presumably will be offered new deals. I will also cover the players still under contract and what their possible futures are at East End Park.
Sean Murdoch: not so much 'released' as retired, a decision he made himself after battling long-term injury for the past 2 seasons. A good servant to the club.
Lee Robinson: no surprise here - the goalkeeper was jettisoned immediately after Stevie Crawford was appointed, with the new manager not happy that a first choice goalkeeper was allowed to work part-time. Robinson had a good clean sheet record with the club but was also his own worst enemy at times, picking arguments with opposition players and wandering far from his goal.
Ryan Williamson: A player who needs a new club and a new challenge to kick-start his career. His form and confidence dipped over the past year and while never a great defender, his attacking runs also became less frequent.
Mark Durnan: An season interrupted by injury but in truth, he was not the standard of player required to push for promotion next season.
Aidan Connolly: No lack of effort but simply too small to cut it in a physically-demanding division.
Kallum Higginbotham: An enigma whose best days in a Pars strip were behind him. Along with Williamson - a player he once formed a decent right wing partnership with - needs a new club to start again and get his form back.
Louis Longridge: a player I feared would be offered a new deal. Has ability but lacks pace, slows the game down and has a bad first touch.
Robbie Muirhead: considering Allan Johnston once resigned as Kilmarnock manager when Muirhead was sold behind his back, what on earth was going on with this guy over the past 10 months? A complete waster.
Brandon Luke: A product of the youth system who never seemed likely to break into the first team squad.
Bruce Anderson: We rarely played to Bruce's strengths, and he was left isolated up front in far too many games. I'd like to see him back on loan next season, but would Aberdeen be agreeable?
Faissal El Bakhtaoui: The excitement that greeted his return eventually turned to despair. Not the same player as in his first spell. Dundee have ruined him.
James Vincent: Did relatively well after joining the club on loan in the second half of last season, but was a huge let down this season after his loan was extended for a further year. As with Faissal, he returns to Dundee out of contract and looking for a new club. Thankfully, it won't be Dunfermline Athletic.
Ryan Blair: decent set piece delivery, but other than that, an empty shirt.
THE REMAINING OUT OF CONTRACT PLAYERS
Ryan Scully: Has the option of extending his initial six month deal. A keeper I have always liked and would hope to see him back next season.
Cammy Gill: Has to be loaned out for the sake of his career. Another year on our bench is not what he needs now or for his future development.
Andy Ryan: Out injured since November but made a late substitute appearance in the final game at Inverness. A poacher who could still do a job for the club if we adopt a more attacking approach next season.
Lewis Martin: Missed almost the whole season except for the final 2 games, so cannot be included in the general criticism of the squad. Versatile player.
James Craigen: Another versatile player but has yet to nail down a starting place in any position. Good guy, but not one to build a team around.
Stuart Morrison: One of the more promising young players who could be retained next season.
Other youth/reserve players including Matty Todd, Paul Allan and Lewis McCann should also be given new deals.
STILL UNDER CONTRACT:
To finish this squad review, I will list the remaining first team squad players who still have another 12 months on their contracts, and who I would choose to retain, and who would be free to move on if they found a more suitable deal:
Jackson Longridge, Lee Ashcroft, Tom Beadling, Joe Thomson
Move on, if possible:
Danny Devine, Myles Hippolyte, Callum Smith