Friday 24th August, 2018 at 4:20pm
It’s been two weeks since Partick Thistle claimed their first league win of the season against Falkirk in a 2-1 triumph over the Bairns with cup duty taking priority in the interim, however, it’s a return to Championship action tomorrow for the Jags as they prepare to take on Dundee United in league competition for the first time since 2016. Thistle boss, Alan Archibald, spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of his side’s trip to Tannadice.
The gaffer began by admitting that the game against the Terrors will represent one of his side’s biggest tests this season with United expected to be challenging for the league title this term.
“It’s going to be one of the hardest games we’ll have, especially away from home. They’ll have one of the biggest supports in the league and it’s never been easy when we’ve gone to Tannadice before. The lads are in a confident mood though, we’ve had three good performances in a row and even though Celtic did beat us, I think the boys recognise that they performed admirably against Scotland’s best team. We want to continue that momentum into a run of league games and that starts tomorrow.”
Archie said that although it should prove to be a very tough test, his side will have to win games like these if they want to sit in top spot come the end of the season.
“When you play your title rivals you want to win that bit more because those three points don’t just boost you, they dent another team’s title hopes. There’s a big expectancy with Dundee United, having been in this league for far longer than they’d have liked, they need to get promoted to justify the money they spend but that expectancy means their fans aren’t too patient and we can take advantage of that with a good start like we had against Falkirk.”
We then asked Archie about new signings, Souleymane Coulibaly and Brice Ntambwe. The pair joined the club this week and although they may not feature this weekend, Alan hopes they can add plenty to his squad.
“Everyone knows we’ve needed more bodies in and these two signings help with that but also bring quality to our team. Neither of them were going to go straight into the starting line up if I’m being honest with you. With Souleymane, he’s obviously come here to score goals and add to our attack but he hasn’t played any football in a long time. He’s just started doing fitness work with us to get up to speed. His situation is not an easy one to work through but we’re working hard to get clearance for him and if we do get it in time for Saturday then he’ll join the squad. I know it is a very complicated matter in what’s going on, but we were told he was good to go to try and sign him and that’s why we went with it.
“As for Brice, he adds a bit of physicality which I feel we’ve slightly lacked in the midfield. He’s not afraid to get stuck in and he can also use the ball well. His clearance is a little bit more straightforward, albeit his last club went bust. If it is anything like Andrea Mutombo’s clearance it should come through quickly. If clearance arrives he’ll be part of the squad for the trip to Tannadice. We had Brice in for a look last week before he went back home to Belgium. He’s not match sharp to go and start the game but hopefully he’ll be on the bench and ready to play a part. Both of our new additions have been in training with us and have fit in very well so there are no problems in that regard either.”
Throughout the start of the season, the Jags have missed different players for different reasons during different games, however, Archibald is hoping that over the next few weeks, he can get most players into contention and really find his best team.
“There have been a lot of moving parts through pre-season. We’ve had players picking up knocks at points, guys on the transfer list and players still to come in so there’s been more rotation than I’d have liked but we’re almost there now. There are a few players still out but they’ll gradually come back in and overall, the squad looks much fuller. Soon enough I’ll be leaving more players out which can only be a good thing.”
The Jags boss is also glad that he’ll now be able to name a much stronger bench for games with more options from the sidelines making it easier for him to change any given game in Thistle’s favour.
“It’s not ideal that we couldn’t name a full bench through the start of the season but there are a number of factors that fed into that but tomorrow we should have a much better looking list of substitutes. Away to Ayr, we only had Aidan Fitzpatrick on the bench as an attacking option and that made it difficult for us to change the way the game was going at 2-0 down. With Andréa, Souleymane and Brice all coming in to add to our squad it’ll give me more options to go with if things aren’t going our way.”
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