Kilmarnock Season Preview: Alessio aims for successful campaign after Euro disaster.
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock. Source:(GettyImages/Christian Cooksey)

Angelo Alessio has not enjoyed the best start as Kilmarnock boss. His sides Europa League exit has been well documented and there has been a slightly negative aura surrounding the Ayrshire side in the close-season.

However, they will be hoping they can wipe the slate clean and go on to have a successful season but just how well can they do this season?

Transfer Business

It has been a very quiet summer in Ayrshire in terms of incomings, much to the disappointment of fans. 

Alessio has secured Juventus goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu on a season-long loan, whilst Mohamed El Makrini has also joined Killie from Roda JC. 

Familiar face Alex Bruce has re-signed with the Rugby Park side following a short spell at the end of the 2018-19 season.

However, Killie have lost several key players including Daniel Bachmann, Jordan Jones, Aaron Tshibola, Youssouf Mulumbu, Scott Boyd, Kris Boyd, Liam Millar, and Conor McAleny and their squad appears very thin as a result. 

As it stands, they are heading into their first game of the season with only one recognised first-team striker in Eamonn Brophy.

Killie have been linked with ex-Hibs and current Manchester City winger Thomas Agyepong and a deal to bring Liverpool wonderkid Liam Millar back to Ayrshire is said to be close but Alessio is leaving it very late as it is now just four days until their season opener against Rangers

Early Season Form

It has been a woeful start for Killie under Alessio. Their first European adventure in 18 years came to a sudden halt when they were dumped out in the Europa League First Qualifying Round by Welsh minnows Connah's Quay Nomad's.

The details of that game have been well documented and to be honest, there is not a lot to say about it. The result, against such a low level of opposition in such a big game, paints its own picture and it is not a pretty one.

Another worry for Killie fans has been the severe lack of games played. Outwith the games against The Nomads, Alessio's men have only played three games; 2 training games against Gaz Metan and Dinamo Bucharest in Marbella, which they drew 0-0 and lost 3-0 respectively and a closed-door game against Motherwell reserves yesterday, which they won 3-1. 

The Rugby Park faithful will be praying that their European disaster and lack of game time in pre-season does not hurt their chances of a successful domestic campaign.

Player to watch

Greg Taylor is an absolute standout for the Ayrshire side. 

Despite only being 21-years-old, the full-back has made well over 100 appearances for Killie and has even been capped by the Scotland National Team

In modern football, it is so common for full-backs to be perfectly capable of attacking but less capable of defending, which is mad considering their main duty is to defend. However, this is not the case for Taylor, who excels at his defensive duties whilst also being very capable of going forward.

Standing at 5ft7, several teams often try and catch the youngster out with long balls over the top but his terrific positional sense and surprising strength ensure that he is rarely caught out.

In all honesty, Taylor is unlucky that Scotland has a world-class left-back in Andy Robertson and a fantastic back-up in Kieran Tierney or else he would be an absolute certainty to be the national sides starting left-back.

However, if he continues to perform the way he has in the past two years then I would not be surprised to see him reach similar heights as Robertson.

One for the future

Should Alessio and Killie fail to add to their attacking options then it could prove to be a huge season for Innes Cameron.

The 18-year-old striker is very well regarded in Ayrshire and he may be given his chance this season as back up to Brophy.

Despite his age, Cameron is a huge physical presence and has proven he can cope with the rough and tumble of Scottish football. He scored 10 goals in the second half of the 2018-19 season for League 1 side Stranraer and he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of legendary Killie striker Kris Boyd, who has recently retired. 

Predicted finish

Killie enjoyed their best season in many a year in the 2018-19 campaign and it was always going to be difficult to repeat that.

A poor pre-season and underwhelming transfer activity may have lowered Killie fans' expectations for the coming season. However, the Ayrshire side should still be pushing for a top 6 finish.

Alessio's side has the nucleus of a good side and he will be hoping to use his world-class experience to help bring success to Ayrshire once again. 

A finish lower than 7th would be considered a major disappointment given their successive top-six finishes in the past two seasons.

Prediction: 6th 

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