Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The eleventh annual Narey's Toepoker Team Of The Year (part 2)

Part 1, with my goalkeeper and defence, can be found here.

As for the rest, I have been hamstrung a bit by my own insistence on including only those who have managed to start half of their club's games this season. So that disqualified Moussa Dembele, Flo Kamberi, Youssouf Mulumbu, Louis Moult, David Bates and Ryan Jack, amongst others, from consideration. I was very close to breaking this rule just so I could fit in Mulumbu - if only for his god-like performance against Celtic at Rugby Park - and either Moult or Kamberi on the grounds that the other centre-forward options were pretty rank.

But thems the rules. So we have only one player from last season's lineup (Kieran Tierney), but we have one player making his second Team Of The Year appearance, one making his third, and one making his fourth.

Oh, and this season's formation is something of a 4-3-2-1/4-3-3. We must have tried every formation over the years except a back three. But that would involve there being three competent central defenders in the league, something which has quite possibly never been the case in the history of this blog.

Anyway, here are your midfield and your forwards...

Honourable mentions: Kenny McLean (Aberdeen), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen), Olivier Ntcham (Celtic), Glen Kamara (Dundee), Greg Docherty (Hamilton/Rangers), Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock)

Brown's PFA Player of the Year award might be as much recognition of how long he has endured at the top level as for his performances this season. But whilst he probably wasn't quite as sensational as in 2016/17 he is remarkable, given he will play sixty matches this season at the age of 32. McGeouch and McGinn offered a wonderful carousel of passing this season; the latter's all-action play and willingness to go for goal makes him more obvious to spectators but McGeouch's ability to receive and keep possession is at least as important at Easter Road and won him increasing plaudits as the campaign went on.

Docherty would have been in the team at Christmas after a series of outstanding performances for Accies but he hasn't managed to establish himself at Rangers yet. In contrast, McLean got better after he agreed a switch to Norwich in January which resulted in him being loaned back to Pittodrie till the summer. Kamara stood out at Dundee mainly because of the dross around him but he will surely be sold for a decent fee to a better team this summer. Shinnie was good rather than great, especially because of his yellow card count, but its not his fault Derek McInnes can't find a decent holding midfielder. Dicker's return from long-term injury coincided with Kilmarnock's best run of the season.

Honourable mentions: Ryan Christie (Aberdeen), Callum McGregor (Celtic), David Templeton (Hamilton), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), Josh Windass (Rangers)

Forrest first (and last) made this list six years ago, but after a comeback season in 2016/17 he elevated his play further this year. Often deployed as a right wing-back with little defensive responsibility, his end product has improved considerably and he has at last found some consistency. Candeias put many of Pedro Caixinha's other signings to shame with his attirude as well as his play, and was a chance-creating machine from the right flank.

This was a breakout season for McGregor, who now may be part of Brendan Rodgers' strongest XI. Windass has improved considerably over the last 12 months and offers a real goal threat from midfield. Christie stood out for Aberdeen despite the feeling that Derek McInnes doesn't know how to use him best. Jones might be the best left winger in the country, whatever Ian McCall says. If Accies stay up, it'll be because of Templeton's goal threat from the flank. And Boyle, who might have considered himself lucky to get a new deal from Hibs a year ago, is now indispensible for them.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Lafferty (Hearts), Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Boyd, a Team of the Year pick in 2009, 2010 and 2014, has probably impressed me more at 34 than at any other point in his career. His leadership from the front and intelligent play both with and without the ball have been as important as his Premiership-leading 18 goals.

A very odd person on Twitter complained that Morelos, scorer of 14 league goals this season, should have been top of the Worst Signings list! Well, tough. I like the Colombian's ability to trouble two centre-backs on his own, and his constant running. And unlike some I think the 21 year old will become more refined - and a more composed finisher - with time. As for Lafferty, he's not been the third best striker in the league this season by a long shot. But he probably is the third best out of those who have played enough games to qualify for this list...not that that is saying much.

So here is your lineup for the 2017/18 season. If you disagree, please feel free to leave your constructive criticism in the comments section or on Twitter...

(Yes, I know Candeias is a right winger. So sue me!)

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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