Friday, May 4, 2018

The eleventh annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 1)

Eleventh? Blimey.

Here are the previous ten, for your amusement. Yes, I know, there are some real shockers in there...

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 

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)

2016/17: Joe Lewis (Aberdeen), Callum Paterson (Hearts), Jozo Simunovic (Celtic), Joe Shaughnessy (St. Johnstone), Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen), Stuart Armstrong (Celtic), Adam Barton (Partick Thistle), Scott Sinclair (Celtic), Moussa Dembele (Celtic), Liam Boyce (Ross County)

So here's this season's crop. The one criteria worth noting - a player must have played in at least half of this club's Premiership games this season to qualify - so no Jon Aurtenetxe, Youssouf Mulumbu or Louis Moult.

And this is all my own work, so by all means send me your constructive criticism on Twitter.


Honourable mentions: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Trevor Carson (Motherwell)

There are two reasons why Hearts are in the top six, and McLaughlin is one of them. He's been such an upgrade between the sticks for the Jambos - and just as well, given that he's been pretty busy. His year in Scotland is set to earn him a lucrative contract at an English Championship side that Hearts just won't be able to match.

Gordon's quality is most apparent when he's not available, particularly when Dorus De Vries was in goal for Celtic instead. He was reliable as ever. Carson impressed sufficiently at Fir Park that he forced his way into the Northern Ireland setup and is attracting interest from down south too.

Honourable mentions: Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock), Jason Naismith (Ross County)

Tavernier may not be the greatest defender in the world, but he more than makes up for it with the threat he offers going forward; at the time of writing he has scored seven league goals and is the joint Premiership leader for assists. And he's not such a bad defender as is made out. And if Rangers bothered playing a competent defensive midfielder who could cover for him it wouldn't matter anyway.

O'Donnell has been terrific for Kilmarnock and has become more dangerous in an attacking sense as the season has progressed. Naismith has been Ross County's best player by miles, and will surely be snapped up by a top division club if his side are relegated.

Honourable mentions: Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock), Declan John (Rangers)

A no-brainer, this. Tierney maybe hasn't been quite as amazing as last season but his continued excellence, at the age of just 20, is astonishing. Assuming he continues this trajectory, he will become the most expensive Scottish player ever when he chooses to play at a higher level.

But there weren't many other deserving candidates. Taylor has been much more consistent than you would expect from one so young and also has a bright future ahead of him. John probably isn't as good as the perenially injured (and now suspended) Lee Wallace, but he has been solid enough for Rangers and certainly hasn't been one of their weakest links.

Honourable mentions: Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic), Jack Hendry (Dundee/Celtic), Paul Hanlon (Hibernian), Cedric Kipre (Motherwell)

You know how I mentioned there were two reasons for Hearts being in the top six? Aye, so Berra is the other. In fact, the Scotland international has been so impressive that he really should have made the Player Of The Year shortlist. A duo of Berra and McKenna would certainly win every header going; the Aberdeen youngster is phenomenal in the air, though I worry I'm getting carried away by the hype and my desperate hope that Scotland has some half decent centre-backs out there. Time will tell.

Kipre was very close to being included, having instantly looked the part after joining Motherwell and earning not one but two new contracts over the course of the campaign. Hendry was such a revelation at Dundee that he earned a seven figure move to Celtic in January. With strength to complement his comfort in possession, Ajer has the tools to go far. Hibs' Hanlon meanwhile had arguably the best season of his career, as he enters his testimonial year.

Midfield and attack to come in the next few days...

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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