Scottish Premiership Team of the Season
With the Euros just around the corner, there’s still a brief window to reflect on the season that was in the Scottish Premiership. Taylor Murray undergoes the task of picking a side of the league’s brightest in 2020/21.
There are many debates that get fans talking. Offside calls, 50/50 challenges and European Super Leagues. However, one debate that is always guaranteed to stoke the flames of fiery debate is the selection of a team of the season.
I understand that my list will be scrutinised by every fan of a club than feels a certain player from their respective club deserves to be on the list, and I agree David Marshall should be in this for his heroics in Belgrade, but sadly this is just for the Scottish Premiership. So, without further ado, here is my list for the 20/21 Scottish Premiership team of the season.
GK: Allan McGregor – Rangers
The Rangers shot stopper has been in unreal form this season. In the 27 league games the veteran played, he kept an astounding 17 clean sheets. Since he re-joined the club in 2018, McGregor has been integral to Rangers and their steady improvement. He has had countless performances where he has saved the point or got all three, with one of his most recent being against Celtic in January’s 1-0 win at Ibrox. The Gers keeper was in inspired form as Celtic ran over the top of Rangers, with shots coming from left, right and centre. The best save of the game came from his dive to the right, where he tipped a Leigh Griffiths strike round the post – a shot that looked all but certain to have been going in. The 39-year-old hasn’t only stood out domestically, McGregor has done it on the European stage with his save making headlines against Slavia Prague in the first leg. A player that has undoubtedly earned his spot on this list.
RB: James Tavernier – Rangers
James Tavernier might be playing right back for Rangers, but he certainly has the stats of a striker, ending the season as the joint-fourth top goal scorer in the Premiership, outscoring the likes of Ryan Kent, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Devante Cole. The captain certainly did his leading from the front this campaign, also finishing second top in the league for assists, behind only title-winning teammate Ianis Hagi. Although Tavernier spent a spell on the sidelines, allowing for the staggering rise of Nathan Patterson, his form up until that point was sensational. His consistency, leadership and potency in the early months were key to Rangers’ success this season. Throughout various stages of his career in Govan, many fans had written him off as as a liability, but he has been one of the few Steven Gerrard has kept around since those dark days and has improved markedly under the Scouser’s stewardship. A man that is the captain of Rangers and in my eyes, the captain of this team of the season.
CB: Connor Goldson – Rangers
Since joining Rangers, Connor Goldson has played almost every minute under Steven Gerrard. Over the manager’s time at the club, he has tried different pairings at the back, but the one constant has been the Englishman. This season, Goldson has played a huge role in Rangers impeccable home and clean sheet record, forming a formidable partnership with Filip Helander. Goldson also isn’t shy in getting in on the action, with six goals and three assists that have proved crucial in sealing points for the eventual champions. He is a defender that has been a brick wall this season and with his performances translating into Europe for the Ibrox club too, it is clear to see why Gerrard trusts him to always be that rock at the back.
CB: Jason Kerr – St Johnstone
St Johnstone enjoyed an incredible this season. A top five finish, European football secured and the small matter of a historic cup double, it’s impossible not to marvel at the job done by Callum Davidson and his now-legendary players. A man key to the Saints’ success this season is Jason Kerr. The academy graduate was more than a solid defender at the back, with his leadership shining through despite his age and his cultured nature on the ball standing out as a valuable tool for the Perth side. Kerr may look back on this season and ask what more he could have done to secure a place in Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad, but nevertheless, it is campaign that will always be remembered as the one he held two trophies aloft at Hampden in one of Scottish football’s most remarkable fairytales.
LB: Borna Barisic – Rangers
Just like his defensive partners, Borna Barasic has been vital to Rangers’ invincible season in the Premiership, both defensively and offensively. Similarly to James Tavernier, Barasic likes to get up and down the wing, creating chances for his teammates. The Croat registered seven assists in the league this season, while also helping out one of the most formidable defences the Premiership has seen in recent years. In saying that, it’s hard to look beyond the Rangers backline when picking a team of the season, and although Josh Doig had a breakthrough campaign at Hibernian, Barisic’s contributions to the champions cannot be overlooked, meaning he earns a coveted spot in this XI.
CM: David Turnbull – Celtic
Celtic have not had much to cheer about this season. From start to finish, it has been calamitous. Despite the anguish, they have had a few bright sparks in the team that will give fans hope that the rebuild next season won’t involve a complete overhaul. One of the bright sparks, perhaps the brightest of all, was David Turnbull. The former Motherwell midfielder had to bide his time to get into the starting lineup at Parkhead, but when he did, he took his chance emphatically. Turnbull was one of the few Celtic players that most fans would have handed pass marks to. Since he fought his way into the side in December, he scored seven goals and assisted five, picking up the PFA Young Player of the Year award. The 21-year-old has helped up the tempo in many of Celtics game’s and without him it is scary to think where the creativity would have come from for the former champions.
CM: Steven Davis – Rangers
The phrase “A Rolls Royce of a player” is overused in today’s football discourse. Those who truly deserve this title are cool, calm and collected under pressure. They can help dictate the speed of a game as they have the ability to slow it down or speed it up whenever they want. Steven Davis is a man that fits this exact bill. At the age of 36, the Northern Irishman is still playing international football, domestic football and European football. He is a player who has been essential to the Rangers midfield, using his experience to control games. It is argued that Davis is playing the best football of his career at this stage with him operating a deeper role at the Ibrox club than he did in his first spell. Davis sitting deep has allowed players such as Hagi, Aribo, Jack and Kamara to be given creative license to get forward, enabling him to sit deep and pull the strings of Rangers invincible season.
CM: Jamie McGrath – St Mirren
St Mirren narrowly missed out on the top six in agonising fashion, with St Johnstone pipping them and subsequently dealing a crushing blow to Jim Goodwin’s men. That being said, Goodwin has a lot to be happy about as his team performed so well over the course of the season. One player who impressed many was Jamie McGrath, ending the season as the Saints top goal scorer in the league on 10 goals. The Irishman looks very well suited to the Premiership and with his performances this season, it would be easy to believe that other clubs have their eyes on the midfielder. Contracted to 2022, Goodwin will be hoping to have him in the team for next season to push for that top six finish, but going on the season he’s had, as well as a recent international call-up, the task of keeping McGrath in Paisley could prove too tough.
FW: Ryan Kent – Rangers
The Young Player of the Season last year, Ryan Kent set the league alight in his debut campaign for Rangers. The former Liverpool man was an instant hit with the Ibrox faithful and impressed Gerrard so much that he went out and splashed £7 million on him. Kent has since upped his game to another level since re-joining Rangers on a permanent deal, acting as the catalyst to all things good in the Rangers attack by using his quick feet and pace. His performances improved this season, but perhaps more importantly for the champions, so did his numbers. Kent produced 19 goal contributions in 37 games this season, meaning he was involved in a goal in almost every second game. It was a tough choice to pick Kent or Morelos to be in the front line, but I chose to go with the former based on his performances for the team on and off the ball.
FW: Kevin Nisbet – Hibernian
Hibs kicked the season off with a statement of intent, bringing in the likes of Jamie Murphy and Alex Gogic with the aim of achieving European football. Kevin Nisbet was another high profile signing, one that came in with big hopes after a sensational season with Dunfermline – scoring 23 goals in 32 outings for the Pars. This season he has carried that same form for Hibs, proving to be the player they hoped for. Nisbet has been in about the goals all season for the Easter Road club, scoring 14 goals in his first season in the Premiership. He impressed so much that clubs were looking to get his services in January, but a move to Birmingham fell through. Many predicted he would tail off due to this, but the Scottish international showed a high level of maturity by continuing to work hard for Hibs and getting them European football. Having bagged his first goal for Scotland, he’ll be hoping to make his mark at the summer’s European Championships.
FW: Odsonne Edouard – Celtic
There have been many players who have deserved a place on this list, but the final place in the team has to go to Odsonne Edouard. Yes, as stated before, Celtic have been terrible this season with only a few sparks. Edouard himself has been a shadow of the player he was in previous seasons. That being said though, he ended up as the league’s top goal scorer with 18 goals. He has been Celtic’s only real source of goals, and with other areas not really chipping in, he has had to carry the burden himself. Despite some average performances, bagging 22 goal contributions in 31 games is still incredible and it really shows that in the biggest season in Celtic’s history, if they invested in the correct manner, this campaign could have been a very different one for the Parkhead faithful.