Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The tenth annual Narey's Toepoker Team of the Year (part 1)

This is the tenth Narey's Toepoker team of the year.  Wow.  Here, for your amusement, are the previous nine lineups.  Every year I post these, I cringe a bit.  I mean, Daniel Majstorovic?!  Lee Wilkie twice?!

2007/08: Allan McGregor (Rangers), Alan Hutton (Rangers), Carlos Cuellar (Rangers), Lee Wilkie (Dundee United), Lee Naylor (Celtic), Barry Robson (Celtic), Stephen Hughes (Motherwell), Barry Ferguson (Rangers), Aiden McGeady (Celtic), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Steven Fletcher (Hibernian)

2008/09: Lukasz Zaluska (Dundee United), Andreas Hinkel (Celtic), Gary Caldwell (Celtic), Lee Wilkie (Dundee United), Sasa Papac (Rangers), Scott Brown (Celtic), Bruno Aguiar (Hearts), Pedro Mendes (Rangers), Andrew Driver (Hearts), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Kris Boyd (Rangers)

2009/10: John Ruddy (Motherwell), Steven Whittaker (Rangers), David Weir (Rangers), Andy Webster (Dundee United), Sasa Papac (Rangers), Steven Davis (Rangers), Morgaro Gomis (Dundee United), James McArthur (Hamilton), Anthony Stokes (Hibernian), Kris Boyd (Rangers), David Goodwillie (Dundee United)

2010/11: Marian Kello (Hearts), Steven Whittaker (Rangers), Daniel Majstorovic (Celtic), Michael Duberry (St. Johnstone), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Steven Naismith (Rangers), Beram Kayal (Celtic), Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock), David Templeton (Hearts), Nikica Jelavic (Rangers), David Goodwillie (Dundee United)

2011/12: Cammy Bell (Kilmarnock), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Paul Dixon (Dundee United), James Forrest (Celtic), Victor Wanyama (Celtic), Ian Black (Hearts), Dean Shiels (Kilmarnock), Jon Daly (Dundee United), Gary Hooper (Celtic)

2012/13: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County), Gary Warren (Inverness CT), Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen), Stevie Hammell (Motherwell), Victor Wanyama (Celtic), Nicky Law (Motherwell), Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone), Leigh Griffiths (Hibernian), Michael Higdon (Motherwell), Billy Mckay (Inverness CT) 

2013/14: Jamie MacDonald (Hearts), Dave Mackay (St. Johnstone), Virgil Van Dijk (Celtic), Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United), Scott Brown (Celtic), Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United), Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen), Kris Commons (Celtic), Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock), Stevie May (St. Johnstone)

2014/15: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Shay Logan (Aberdeen), Virgil Van Dijk (Celtic), Jason Denayer (Celtic), Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT), Ryan Jack (Aberdeen), Greg Tansey (Inverness CT), Greg Stewart (Dundee), Stefan Johansen (Celtic), Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United/Celtic), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen)

2015/16: Jamie MacDonald (Kilmarnock), Callum Paterson (Hearts), Igor Rossi (Hearts), Andrew Davies (Ross County), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen), Nir Bitton (Celtic), Jackson Irvine (Ross County), Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen), Kenny McLean (Aberdeen), Marvin Johnson (Motherwell), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)

As for this season, this lot is all on me.  I didn't ask for other opinions, partly because of time constraints and partly because I don't trust my fellow collaborators - Martin would have been biased towards Aberdeen players, while Iain would have picked Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn out of sheer vindictiveness.  And Andrew is just too depressed by Caley Thistle's season.  So any criticisms should be directed at yours truly...although I'll probably ignore them.

So here's your keeper and your back four...

Honourable mentions: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Wes Foderingham (Rangers)

A toss-up between Lewis and Gordon, but the former gets the nod simply because he was worked harder over the course of the season.  Aberdeen's erratic central defenders provide him with plenty of action, but he has not disappointed.  Gordon has spent too many matches basically jogging around his box keeping warm, though he has been the epitomy of reliability since proving to Brendan Rodgers that he can be an adequate sweeper-keeper.  There will be lots of squad turnover at Ibrox this summer, but goalkeeper is the one position that Pedro Caixinha can be satisfied with; Foderingham has been one of the few positives at Rangers this season.

Honourable mentions: Shay Logan (Aberdeen), Mikael Lustig (Celtic)

"But Paterson's been injured for months!", I hear you shout indignantly.  That's true, but he'd started 20 league games before he wrecked his knee, and at that point he was playing like a man possessed.  The boy was Hearts' leading scorer at the time too.  Hopefully he bounces back to become the player he has the potential to be.  Celtic's regular deployment of a lop-sided back four means that Lustig has spent plenty of time more centrally, but he's thrived under Brendan Rodgers.  Logan has been a consistently good performer for Aberdeen all season at the back and has chipped in with plenty of assists and a few goals too.

Honourable mentions: Lee Wallace (Rangers), Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT)

Mark my words: Tierney will at some point become the most expensive Scottish footballer ever, when the time comes that he wants to test himself at a higher level week-in, week-out.  In the meantime, he still has plenty of scope to improve under Rodgers' coaching, even when playing against domestic dross most weekends.  My 'honourable mentions' will probably cause some controversy, but I think Wallace has had a decent season, while Tremarco has been the only bright light of Caley Thistle's dismal season (and their top scorer to boot).  Besides, it's my blog, and I can be horrendously biased if I want to.

Honourable mentions: Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic), Liam Lindsay (Partick Thistle), Clint Hill (Rangers), Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone)

It's hard to believe that Simunovic was nearly punted to Torino on deadline day last summer; the Croat has strolled through the campaign at the heart of Celtic's defence.  Whilst he's no Virgil Van Dijk, the 22 year old has the best chance of any of the club's central defenders of making it at a higher level.  Some might see Shaughnessy as an odd pick, but he's been ace whenever I've seen him.  He's a proper no-nonsense defender who has actually eclipsed stalwart teammate Steven Anderson this year, and Tommy Wright has done really well to hold onto him.

Liam Lindsay would have been the more fashionable 'diddy team' choice, but whilst he's developing into a very decent player I feel all the Scotland cap chat is a bit over the top.  Sviatchenko has been very solid but seems to have now dropped below Dedryck Boyata in the pecking-order at Parkhead.  It says something about Rangers' other defenders that Clint Hill, ace for me in a Championship Manager 99/00 game once, outplayed them this season despite turning 38 in October.

The midfield and attack will be up in a few days, when I've got the time.  And when I've decided who my central midfielders will be...

Lawrie Spence has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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