Scottish Premiership 2019/20 Team of the Season

With the Scottish Premiership drawn to a premature end after 30 games Celtic were declared champions whilst Hearts were condemned to the Scottish Championship. Motherwell outperformed more than anyone, clinching third place and a first European spot for six years. We got three of our writers to pick their standout XI from the season. 

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The top scorer for the nine-in-a-row champions, Odsonne Edouard lead the line for all three teams (Credit: Kenny Ramsey)

Gregor Kerr’s team

Goalkeeper: Václav Hladky – St Mirren

 The Czech stopper has made the most saves in the league this year with 98. However, it is a stat which can be misleading, as somebody near the foot of the league is inevitably going to face substantially more shots those at the top. What does give him credit is that in the process Hladky has kept ten clean sheets, the most out with Scotland’s top three sides. The main reason why the Buddies aren’t in a scrap with Hearts at the bottom, he has probably won his team more points than any other goalkeeper in the league.

 RB: James Tavernier – Rangers

 You know what you’re going to get with the full-back after five years in Scotland. Goals and assists are guaranteed, with three and nine respectively. While he may be exposed at the back at times, particularly in the second half of this season, Tavernier offers Rangers more than he takes away.

 CB: Christopher Jullien – Celtic

A Neil Lennon side needs a degree of physicality and presence, and that’s what he picked up when bringing in the defender from Toulouse last summer. At 6’5 his arial presence is the one big addition to the Celtic defence, leaving opponents with little chance in the air. Starting 28 games in his debut season shows he quickly the Frenchman has become part of the side’s spine. He has also helped the Celts to raise their game in Europe.

 CB: Declan Gallagher – Motherwell

 One of two outstanding central defenders for Livingston in the 2018/19 season, Gallagher’s fortunes have turned out very different from his former defensive partner Craig Halkett who also got his big move this season. Gallagher started every game for Motherwell this season as they finished in third place for the first time in six years. His performances even earned two Scotland caps in November. It’s been some rise from League One football just three years ago.

 LB:  Borna Barisic – Rangers

 Maybe the most improved player for Steven Gerrard this season, there were occasional glimpses of quality when he joined from Osijek in 2018, but no form of consistency or reliability. This year his crossing has been the big asset out wide for Rangers, with eight assists from out wide to his name. His upturn in form has seen him become a regular for Croatia and find himself linked to clubs like Tottenham Hotspur.

CM: Callum McGregor – Celtic 

It’s astonishing how the midfielder plays so many games in the space of a season but shows zero signs of fatigue. For the third season in a row McGregor played in over 50 games in all competitions and didn’t allow his standards to slip once, featuring in every single of Celtic’s title winning games, notching up his best goal tally for a season with 13.

CM: Marvin Bartley – Livingston

When former Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom allowed Bartley to leave Easter Road at the end of last season, it was with the intention of bringing in a new defensive midfielder to take on the mantle. Really, the only person to fill that role was the man himself, to Livingston’s benefit. A player renewed this season, Bartley has run the middle of the park and has emerged as the leader in a Livi side who surpassed expectations to sit in fifth this season. He has transformed Gary Holt’s team.

 CM: Ryan Christie – Celtic

Christie continued to improve as a key player for Celtic this season and was their main goal threat from midfield, with 10 league goals and 17 in all competitions. A bit-part player just two years ago, the former inverness man is now one of Neil Lennon’s best players and could be the next one to get a lucrative move elsewhere.

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Christie’s hat-trick against St Johnstone on the second gameweek set the tone for his season (Credit: Celtic Football Club)

RW: James Forrest – Celtic

 Forrest’s output continues to improve every season, with ten goals from the wing for the second season running, along with 14 assists, which is well clear of any other creative player in the league. Usually a guaranteed starter for Lennon, he is one of Celtic’s most reliable players.

 ST: Christian Doidge – Hibernian

 Before Jack Ross took charge at Hibs, Doidge would have probably been in the first pick and captain of the Flop XI, but his turnaround at Easter Road has led to him becoming the league’s most potent goalscorer behind Odsonne Edouard. The Welshman hadn’t scored a single league goal until then-boss Paul Heckingbottom was sacked in early November, before grabbing a hat-trick straight away against St Johnstone. With 12 goals since then, such form deserves a spot in this team.

 LW: Odsonne Edouard – Celtic

 This was the easiest pick of the lot, albeit playing in a slightly altered wider role, the Frenchman is Scotland’s outstanding player and stands head and shoulders above the rest in the scoring charts, with 22 goals, eight more than the nearest scorer. He’s also come up good in Europe this year with six Europa League goals. Although Celtic will be desperate to hold him for another few years, Edouard is ready for the step up to a major European league.

 

Sean McGill’s team

GK: Fraser Forster – Celtic

Fraser Forster’s return to Parkhead has been a rousing success. Not only has he kept the joint most clean sheets in the league, he also boasts the second best save percentage, only fractionally behind Kilmarnock’s Laurentiu Branescu. A perennial big game player, as his performances in the League Cup Final and the Europa League show, the champions will be desperate to get the Englishman signed up permanently in time for next season.

LB: Borna Barišić – Rangers

A decent shout for the Premiership’s most improved player, Borna Barišić has gone from a weak point opposition outfits looked to exploit to the best fullback in the country. Rangers fans bemoaned the lack of left back alternatives brought in last summer, but Barišić’s wicked delivery, defensive solidity and astute decision making have caused those concerns to evaporate over the course of the season.

CB: Christopher Jullien – Celtic

Following the departures of Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benković, Celtic fans had high expectations of Christopher Jullien when he arrived from Toulouse in the summer. While it hasn’t all been plain sailing (Lyndon Dykes still gives him nightmares), Jullien has proved himself to be a very worthy acquisition.  His tendency to score big goals in big moments has seen “Big Chris” rapidly develop into a fan’s favourite at Parkhead.

CB: Declan Gallagher – Motherwell

There’s a case to be made for Declan Gallagher as the signing of the season in top flight. Often in Craig Halkett’s shadow as part of a formidable Livingston back three last term, Gallagher has emerged as one of the league’s top central defenders since his move to Motherwell. Having been key to the Steelmen securing third spot and making his Scotland debut, Gallagher will look back on this season fondly.

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Motherwell’s capture of Gallagher transformed their side and turned them into one of the success stories of the season (Credit: SNS Group)

RB: James Tavernier – Rangers

While it hasn’t been the best season of his Rangers career, James Tavernier has enjoyed another solid campaign for Steven Gerrard’s side. The Gers captain has racked up two goals and nine assists in the league this season, while playing an integral role in the joint best defence in the Premiership. The emergence of Jeremie Frimpong at Celtic could put Tavernier’s position in next year’s best XI under serious threat.

CM: Callum McGregor – Celtic

Having played the most minutes of any footballer in a top-flight European division  in 2018/19, Callum McGregor can be excused for looking somewhat jaded at the start of this season. The winter break rejuvenated the Scotland midfielder however, as he ended the campaign with nine goals and six assists in the league. A tenth successive title next season would etch McGregor’s name into Parkhead folklore for generations to come.

CM: Ryan Jack – Rangers

Despite making only 19 league appearance this season, Ryan Jack has displayed his transformation from a solid hand into one of the most complete midfielders in the country. His workmanlike attitude and ability to execute the basics extremely well has seen Jack reclaim a spot in a Scotland side rammed full of talented midfield options. Without Jack firing on all cylinders, Rangers putting an end to Celtic’s dominance looks unlikely.

LM: Niall McGinn – Aberdeen

Hear me out. While we’ve definitely seen more eye-catching campaigns from Niall McGinn throughout his career, it’s hard to imagine where Aberdeen would be without him this season. The Northern Irishman serves as the only creative spark in what has been a mundane and uninspiring Dons side, contributing to 37% of their league goals in 19/20. In a season lacking any truly outstanding left midfielders, McGinn narrowly takes the spot.

CAM: Ryan Christie – Celtic

Having shown glimpses of his talent and suggestions of fulfilling his potential in years prior, this season truly was Ryan Christie’s coming out party. With 11 goals and as many assists, the Celtic midfielder has been simply unplayable at times in the Premiership this campaign. Now a fixture for both Celtic and Scotland, Christie will be keen to show he can maintain these extraordinary levels of performance for years to come.

RM: James Forrest – Celtic

While other players have been stealing the headlines at Parkhead, James Forrest has quietly been having a characteristically efficient season in terms of goals and assists. With 24 goal contributions, second only to Odsonne Edouard, Forrest has contributed massively to Celtic’s impressive goal tally this campaign. He still can be guilty of going quiet on occasion, but regardless of the system his side adopts, Forrest remains central to Celtic’s success.

ST: Odsonne Edouard – Celtic

It would be easy to look at Edouard’s 22 league goals in 27 appearances and let the numbers speak for themselves. However, he’s a player that deserves so much more than being viewed solely through the prism of statistics. His clinical finishing, incredible link-up play and deft first touch mean that the lure of a move elsewhere is likely to become too strong in the near future. Enjoy him while you can.

 

Graeme Sinclair’s team

 

GK: Fraser Forster – Celtic

The choice for the goalkeeper for the premiership season was between two men, Rangers keeper Allan McGregor and Celtic’s Fraser Forster. I’ve opted for Forster in my team as he’s had a more consistently impressive season in my opinion. While Forster best games have been in other competitions, his league form provided Celtic with more stability than either Scott Bain or Craig Gordon.

RB: James Tavernier – Rangers

 It’s a shame I have to pick a Right Back for this team, as the standard of the position has been average at best. Stephen O’Donnell was consistently fine for Kilmarnock, Jeremie Frimpong looked great going forward but was a black hole defensively in limited games for Celtic. I’ve opted for Tavernier almost by default, as despite having his poorest season in a Rangers jersey, he still managed to rack up three goals and nine assists.

CB: Christopher Jullien – Celtic

A disclaimer that this selection does not include games against Lyndon Dykes. It took a while for the £7 million Jullien to settle at Celtic, but since he has, he’s been a stalwart in the Bhoys back four. Although at times he could become complacent, he’s was a dominant figure at the back, and was also a massive danger when he got the chance to get into the oppositions box.

CB: Declan Gallagher – Motherwell

 I think most people would be surprised if at the start of the season you told them Gallagher would be the better signing between him and his former Livingston teammate Craig Halkett. However, that has been the case. Gallagher has proved sturdy defensively, and more than capable with the ball at his feet. His excellent vein of form for the Steelman also earned him a richly deserved first cap for Scotland

LB: Borna Barisic – Rangers

Another position where options were limited, thankfully Barisic has earned his place with some magnificent performances for Rangers. It was a discouraging first season in Scotland for Barisic, but fortunes flipped after a splendid free kick winner against St Mirren. Since then Barisic has went from strength to strength, showcasing an absolutely lethal left foot. The Croat notched eight assists, including two in the 2-1 old firm victory at Celtic Park.

RM: James Forrest – Celtic 

The numbers do most of the talking for James Forrest. Ten goals & 17 assists for the winger in 28 games is an incredible return for a player, who for the longest time was seen as wasteful. Forrest did suffer from Celtic changing to 3 at the back after the winter break, and the goals dried up, but his contributions over the course of the seaon were essential to Celtic.

CM: Ryan Jack – Rangers

It was a breakout season for Rangers Midfielder Jack. When Steven Gerrard brought in extra central midfield options in the summer, the thought was that Jack would be the one to drop out. However, to Jack’s credit, he improved immensely over the summer, which meant he couldn’t afford to be left on the bench. His main improvement is in how he recycles the ball and started more attacking moves than he previously could.

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Jack’s form in the first half of the season earned him his first competitive Scotland start in November (Credit: PA)

 

CM: Callum McGregor – Celtic

Celtic’s marathon man has continued to prove season after season how important to Celtic’s success he is. You could tell at points McGregor was fatigued, having played virtually every minute for Neil Lennon, yet he was still able to contribute effectively. After the winter break, a fresh & rejuvenated McGregor showcased his best form of the season as Celtic ran away from Rangers in the league.

LM: Ryan Christie – Celtic

Christie, alongside teammate Forest, is the only player in the Scottish Topflight to notch double digits in goals & assists. With 11 goals & assists, Christie has been one of the leading creative sparks in the Celtic squad. It’s hard to stop Christie when he’s at the top of the game, with his wonderful ball control, lovely array of passing & the ability to absolutely smash the ball in from anywhere, he’s would be Celtic’s player of the season if not for the next person

ST: Odsonne Edouard – Celtic

For my money, the clear and runaway winner for the best player in Scotland for the 2019/20, so much of what Celtic have been able to do rests on the shoulder of the French star. Edouard contributed to 37% of Celtic’s goals this season, and he has the ability to carve something out of nothing. Celtic will be hoping to hang on to Edouard in the summer, because he would be a tough man to replace.

ST: Alfredo Morelos – Rangers

That Morelos only had one goal in 2020 shows both why he belongs here and why he doesn’t. Obviously one goal isn’t good enough, but the fact that Rangers form fell off a cliff when Morelos wasn’t firing speaks volumes for how important he is to the Gers. He has less goals than teammate Jermain Defoe, but you always feel more confident of getting something out the game if Morelos is playing.

 

 

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