Feb 4 2009 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
PROPER analysis can be carried out at the end of the season, but the debate is worth starting in earnest.
Just how important has the addition of Paul Di Giacomo and Simon Lynch to Airdrie United been this season?
If the Diamonds go on and secure First Division survival, then the contributions of this prolific pair will be held in the highest regard.
When Kenny Black began spending his budget in the summer, following Airdrie’s belated promotion from the Second Division, talented players were thin on the ground.
The cream of the crop had either been offered new deals at their respective clubs or were snapped up by rival teams.
But fate deals a favourable hand from time to time and when Di Giacomo was released by SPL outfit Kilmarnock, Black was quick to pounce.
Several weeks later, ex-Celtic hopeful Lynch found himself facing the start of the season without a club.
And after impressing against Killie in a friendly, he too was offered a contract.
A total of 22 goals later, Black’s faith in two experienced strikers who know the Scottish game has been completely vindicated.
The manager may bemoan a lack of strikes from elsewhere in the team, but he can have few complaints about the deadly duo who lead the line.
Di Giacomo has always looked a quality player since he first burst on to the scene with Kilmarnock at the age of 18.
Never a regular goalscorer at Rugby Park, as he rose through the ranks his pace and touch was enough to keep defence’s on their toes.
That he finds himself playing First Division football this term is down to the dreadful luck he has endured on the injury front, having twice suffered cruciate ligament damage.
A classy operator, Lynch arrived back in Scotland in the summer following a two-year stint at Australian outfit Queensland Roar.
He trained with Partick in a bid to build up his fitness before Black shrewdly added him to the Diamonds squad.
Part of the reason why Di Giacomo and Lynch have been successful is that they work well as a partnership, first formed in the playground of St Aloysius College in Glasgow when they were schoolboys.
Di Giacomo does most of the tracking back and closing down of defenders, but his intelligent movement is what really sets him apart.
As for Lynch – he enjoys a bit more freedom up front, but his ability to link up and bring others into play is so vital.
Of course, strikers live and die by their goals, and in this department, the pair of 26-year-olds have delivered.
Both are still young enough to star in the SPL again – their scoring exploits of this season will not have gone unnoticed.
And when you have managers like Jim Jefferies, Gus MacPherson and Craig Levein willing to gamble on players from the lower leagues, the likes of Di Giacomo and Lynch will always stand a chance of moving on up.
Airdrie can do little to prevent such advances.
But the Diamonds’ double act continue to net the goals that guarantee First Division football at New Broomfield next season, no-one will grudge them their second chance at the top.