Patrick Hodler’s first season with “The Accies” is over, the Swiss legend took over in the summer of ’21 with big ambitions but did he manage to fulfill what he set out to do?
NewGen News went out and about and met with three Hamilton fans who gave us their verdict on how they felt the season went.
Let’s firstly take a look back at Patrick Hodler’s appointment at Hamilton, after our chat with him he set out some ambitious plans for the club. Some short and some long term, let’s take a look at his short term goals:
- Stabilise finances
- Play attacking attractive football.
- Aim for promotion within two years.
But did he fulfill any of these promises?
We met up with Anton, Tim and Thomas and asked them to give us a season review.
#1 – Signing of the Season
Anton – It has to be Kieran Wright who came in on loan from Rangers, the shot-stopping Goalkeeper was truly amazing all season breaking the club record for most clean sheets in a season (21).
Tim – You can’t look past Central Midfielder Alfie Payne, he only came in during the January Window and instantly changed our fortunes, Hodler clearly has issues with the midfield after releasing Tom Taiwo, Payne came in and was brilliant.
Thomas – During January the midfield had a major shake-up, Payne was brilliant but for me Franco Pola was even better. The 27-year old Argentinian came in with no grasp of English but treated us to some great goals and marshaled the midfield amazingly.
#2 – Season Highlight
Anton – Hodler wanted a cup run to increase the finances and did exactly that, earlier in the season we were knocked out by Rangers in the League Cup Quarter Finals which gave us £500k, then came the Scottish Cup, after some shakey performances we manged to somehow get into the Quarter Finals.
And in that Quarter Final we had our best performance of the season totally demolishing Airdrie in their own ground with some of the best attacking football any of the fans had seen for a while.
For the first time in what seems an age Hamilton had made it to Hampden, we were trounced by Rangers but the semi-final gave us gate receipts of just under £2m. With our finances looking bad this has certainly helped steady the ship.
Tim – For me is has to be the IRN-BRU Cup final. Most fans don’t care about this trophy and yes it is the third ranked cup in Scotland, but to lift some silverware put a smile on the fans face’s and gave us a massive push towards the end of the season.
The game itself was nerve-wracking. Partick dominated the game but somehow midfielder Keita, out of favour all season scored with the last kick of the game sending it to penalties.The boys held their nerve and Partick faltered. IRN-BRU CUP WINNERS!
Thomas – The cups were fantastic but for me the League is what is most important. Hodler had stated he wanted promotion as soon as possible but I don’t think any of the fans held out any hope. We were predicted to end 7th and most fans, (and the board) expected a mid-table finish.
The season was incredible. We were in around the top 3 all season. Dundee ran away with it and although our form was patchy in parts we managed to end the season in 3rd place securing a play off spot.
We did ease our way past Livingston 3-0 in the first round and then face Partick, the first leg went to plan but unfortunately we were outplayed and outclassed in the 2nd leg to go out 4-3. Why is this a highlight I hear you ask? Well the whole season was brilliant, it got the fans back to the SuperSeal and we all have high expectations for next season.
#3 – Season Lowlight
Anton – In a season where we outperformed in the league and excelled in the cups there weren’t many lows. The only thing I can think of is our lack of goalscoring at times. Ryan Hardie had a tough start to the season only scoring 5 before Christmas, he did end on 22 goals but he was one of only three players to get into double figures for the season. We ended 6th best in goals scored, luckily our defence was watertight, we ended with the least goals conceded and 21 clean sheets in 36 games.
Tim – As Anton stated the season was really good. For me the low was our worst defeat of the season. We went into the Dundee United game having only lost 1 match all season and expectations were high. This was by far our worst performances I have seen in years, however it also seemed to be a catalyst for a good run.
Thomas – When Fraser Murray joined on loan from Hibernian all the fans were excited, Stephen Boyd has been pretty poor playing behind the Striker and all fans thought Murray could be the man to fill the gap. Unfortunately he only managed 4 starts due a serious injury in September where he broke his leg and was out for the whole season.
#4 – Player of the Season
Anton – Although I complained earlier about our goalscoring exploits I have say our best player was Ryan Hardie, he scored 17 goals in the league, some really important ones too. He started slow but with Hodler’s change in style after Christmas it seemed to help Hardie.
Tim – I could’ve said Alfie Payne again but I just feel Goalie Wright deserves the best player award. Throughout the season he was solid and made some key saves in big games.
Thomas – Central Midfielder Steve Stanton proved to be our main man this season. It was disappointing that he missed a few months towards the end of season but his absence gave Pola and Payne some games. Stanton ended as the clubs highest chance maker and will be a key player next season….as long as he stays fit.
#5 – Top Youth Prospect
Anton – When Hodler arrived he immediately went in for one of his “Barry Boys”. Carl Evans was touted by Hodler as an incredible talent and due to injuries he did get a few games and never let the side down. It’ll be interesting to see how much game-time he gets in the next campaign.
Tim – Defensive Midfielder Liam Campbell looked poor at the start of the season, maybe because Hodler’s plan of a 4231 didn’t suit him, his switch to a 4123 after Christmas helped him massively and he played a massive part in a successful season. Rumours are already coming out that Rangers want to sign him, fingers crossed we can hang on to him for at least another season.
Thomas – Right Back Adam Johnston looked out of favour at the start of the season but with Penny’s fitness a massive issues Adam got more games than any of us expected. He was solid, but also provided help attacking wise. If this boy improves his technical side he could become a massive player for Hamilton.
#6 – Has Hodler Fulfilled His Promises?
Anton – Finances – Clearly Hodler has passed this test but only because he made around £2.5m in Prize money from the cup runs. Up until the Rangers Cup Semi the balance was -£720k. He did manage to cut the wages but clearly the finances are still a massive issue but I’m not sure what more Hodler can do, promotion is a must!
Tim – Tactics – Hodlers remit was to play fun and attacking football. With goalscoring low we certainly didn’t see it at times.
It was clear as we entered January Hodler was unhappy with his “Fluid Counter” 4231 Tactic, Boyd was poor behind the forward and ball retention was awful.
Hodler tweeted this in Mid-January which got all the fans thinking, what on earth is Vertical Tiki-Taka?!
When the next game came around at home to Clyde, Hodler switched from a 4231 to a 4123, this seemed to suit the boys more, they were holding onto the ball better but also playing it forward more strategically and creating better chances. This helped numerous players including Hardie, Campbell and the two new CMs.
Thomas – Promotion – Hodler promised promotion within two seasons so to be close in season one gives all the fans hope for next season. It would’ve been incredible to do it first season and to lose in the play-offs feels like a kick in the teeth now. We can look back at a very good season with huge promise for the next.
#7 – Expectations for 2021/22 Season
Anton – Improve the Striker Options – With Hardie our only real high scorer we really need to improve our choice of Strikers, the back-ups looked poor so it was fortunate that Hardie found his feet and kept fit. Hodler has to go out on strengthen his attacking options in the Summer.
Tim – Promotion – As Thomas said previously Hodler said “Promotion in Two Seasons”, therefore this year has to be the year. With key players leaving due to their loans being up new recruits are required. Hodler has shown good acumen in the loan and transfer market and he will need to do the same this Summer to make sure we have a title-winning side.
Thomas – Increase Revenue – To keep competing we need to continue making money. If it wasn’t for our cup runs this season we would’ve ended miles in the red. Gate receipts need to increase but we can only do that by getting more fans in the ground, we averaged around 66% average attendance and we need that to increase.
The most likely way of creating revenue is to have another good run in the cups. Getting to the semis this year and going to Hampden made all the fans dream, let’s continue that dream next season.
It’s clear Hodler has shown the fans his managerial skills match his ambitions, Hamilton were so close to promotion this season, let’s hope for the fans, and his sake they can taste the delights of Promotion and Scottish Premiership sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading