Scottish Premiership Team of the Season
The news we've all been waiting on and expecting has finally come through. Following the decisions made from the Belgian, Dutch, French and more European associations, Scotland has called the season to a halt, with 8 - or 9 for two clubs - games left to play. Points per game were used to decide the final positions of each club, with Celtic clinching a 9th Premiership title in a row whilst Hearts were unfairly subjected to relegation. Rangers and Motherwell will participate in next season's Europa League - whenever that may be - as St Johnstone secured 6th place, despite never being positioned higher than 7th all season!
There's undoubtedly controversy about how the season has ended but with the way the virus still is and the club's desire for prize money, I feel the league's hands were tied. I would've loved for the season to have continued as my beloved team was enjoying their second-best season ever but as well as for general sporting reasons. Also, the fact that everybody was convinced their team was going to do absolutely everything they could to turn their favours around and play like 1970's Brazil would've been great to watch. Nonetheless, this is the hand we've been dealt with and can properly reflect on the season, as well as prepare for the next.
Now with the official season over, we can now compile our surely controversial Team of the Season's which is, of course, always the most civilised of discussions. Everyone has different opinions and I am no different in this case. Whilst trying to remain as unbiased as possible, I have had a good think about this and eventually came to a final XI. Now of course, if a team is heavily featured more than yours I absolutely love them and hate yours, that's just how it works. On that note, here are my choices for the Scottish Premiership Team of the Season!
Goalkeeper: Václav Hladký - St Mirren
It would be very easy to go with the answer of Rangers' Allan McGregor or Celtic's Fraser Forster as my choice for a goalkeeper. Both are tremendous goalkeeper's and nothing should be taken away from them. The pair have the joint-most clean sheets in the league but looking closely at the numbers, you can see the clear effectiveness of playing for a team who are widely dominant in most games. McGregor doesn't make the top 10 for saves made whilst Fraser Forster sits just above former Livi loanee Matija Sarkic - who only played 14 games this season, half that Forster did. I know it is unfair to penalise players for their clubs and they are both wonderful keepers, but I feel that the correct choice is St Mirren's Václav Hladký.
Now I know for sure, loads of people straight away will be confused by the choice of the 9th placed teams keeper making the team but hear me out. I think it's important in these kinds of discussions to consider circumstances and in this case, we're talking about a team who would've been relegated had they not had a great goalkeeper. If Hearts had Václav Hladký instead of Joel Pereira or Bobby Zlamal, I strongly believe they would not have been in last place when the league was halted. The Czech goalkeeper has had a sublime season, finishing with the most saves with 98 and the 4th most clean sheets with 11. The only goalkeepers above him are the aforementioned duo and Motherwell's Mark Gillespie - also unlucky to miss out - the keepers from the top 3 teams in the country. Hladký is the keeper who has been put to work the most and has put up numbers to match the best all with a much weaker defence in front of him. He has had an incredibly solid season and deserves the bigger move he seems to be looking for which he can't be blamed for seeking. He's a terrific goalkeeper and the standout in what is a league with a great crop of talent in this area - see also Aberdeen's Joe Lewis.
Centre Back: Christopher Julien - Celtic
When you are signed for big money in Scotland, you are expected to hit the ground running. When said team embarrassingly crashes out of the Champions League due to a poor defensive display, the expectation on the new big signing becomes even bigger. And for the most part, Christopher Jullien has filled that void at Centre Back proving to be a great signing for the Hoops. It's not being fully perfect - more on that later... - but Jullien has added a calm presence at the back and a worthy partner to the young Kristoffer Ajer who he edges out of this team. With impressive defensive displays, character and some big goals, Jullien has been a key signing for Celtic and a massive part of their success this season, both domestically and in Europe. Celtic seem a completely different side without their star defender in the team and the Frenchman seems to have taken to life in Glasgow very well. A fans favourite with his own hashtag, Jullien seems to get Celtic and relishes the big occasion.
Centre Back: Declan Gallagher - Motherwell
The signing of the season for me, I have been incredibly impressed with how well Declan Gallagher has done this season. Having watched him for many years, Gallagher always impressed with his defensive displays as well as showing great composure and a quality footballing mind. In many ways though, he was overshadowed at Livingston, with Craig Halkett gaining more of the plaudits and catching the eye. However, it is Gallagher who has really progressed this season and has fully deserved his callups to the National Team, with solid displays for Scotland too. A controversial figure but a great defender with a lot to offer, Motherwell's free signing has been one to envy for many teams as he was a main catalyst for the Fir Park's sides success.
Centre Back: Connor Goldson - Rangers
The Rangers defence still leaves a lot to be desired at times, with the team needing some additions before they look fully comfortable. Nonetheless, Connor Goldson is very much a solid defender and emerged as a much-needed leader for the Rangers backline. He is the one constant in the centre-back pairing Steven Gerrard selects on matchdays and the Englishman has repaid his manager's faith in him. Like Jullien, it's not been all perfect but Goldson has been Rangers' best defender this season and a big reason for their 14 clean sheets this season. The 27-year old did not miss a league game this season and slots in nicely next to Jullien and Gallagher. A special shout out must go to Livingston's Jon Guthrie, with an impressive campaign where he notched 6 goals alongside 8 clean sheets and was unlucky to miss out.
Right Wing Back: James Forrest - Celtic
I have to admit that I'm using the term right wing-back as a bit of a cop-out in order to have a proper formation for this team but James Forrest has played here this season so I'm going with it. In a season that, in all honesty, has been a drop off in his standards, Forrest has still managed a hugely impressive 10 goals and 14 assists this season. This tally is the second-highest in goal contributions in the league where Forrest displays great numbers time and time again. Now very much into his prime, Forrest is a key member for both the Celtic and Scotland squads who can be relied on in big moments. After years of being a prospect, Forrest has added a good level of consistency to his game and has continued to show his class in the 2019/20 season. I just hope that his younger brother Alan can show some similarities next season in the top flight.
Honourable Mention - Steven Lawless - Livingston
Left Wing- Back: Borna Barišić - Rangers
If this selection was to be made up by fan chants, Borna Barišić would make the cut easily. Thankfully for Rangers, the Croatian is also an excellent creative full-back who has gone from strength to strength. Possessing similar qualities going forward to his captain James Tavernier, including devastating set-pieces and crosses that make him a threat going forward. Barisic is a much more solid defender though, making him more of an all-round player than his teammate. A great season has seen him garner some transfer interest - perhaps exaggerated in the price - which is commendable to the 27-year-old's performances this season. 6 assists alongside being a part of 13 clean sheets mean Barisic has excelled as the league's star performer down the left flank this season.
Honourable Mention: Andrew Considine - Aberdeen
Central Midfield: Callum McGregor - Celtic
Consistent and solid as ever, Callum McGregor has really cemented the central midfield spot alongside Scott Brown as his own, edging out Olivier Ntcham to the bench. An important player who showcases great class on the ball and can deliver defensively as well as going forward, McGregor has shown himself to be an exceptional talent for the Parkhead side. The clear heir to Brown in midfield and as captain, if they can keep ahold of him, McGregor is one of the first names on the team sheet at Celtic and due to that, is a must-have for the team of the season.
Central Midfield - Ryan Jack - Rangers
This midfield position was the hardest position to choose from. I strongly considered putting in Motherwell's fantastic Alan Campbell who has had an amazing season under Stephen Robinson. The midfielder had an excellent campaign marshalling the Motherwell midfield as he took the spotlight away from the absent David Turnbull. Another suggestion was Livingston's Marvin Bartley, one of the league's signings of the season and a player Hibs clearly missed massively. However, I had to settle on Rangers' star defensive midfielder Ryan Jack. Jack seems to unanimously be Rangers' fans Player of the Season with the Ibrox faithful seeing him as a vital part of their team. He is a vital cog in their team with hard-working displays where he does all the free stuff tremendously. Rangers look a completely different team without his presence and brings that extra grit that some of his teammates somewhat lack. He's unfortunate at National Level due to the competition but if he continues to perform at a high level, you never know.
Centre Attacking Midfielder - Ryan Christie - Celtic
I firmly believe that on his day, there is no better player in the league than Celtic's Tom Rogic. So for there to be a player who has more than deservedly kept him out of the Celtic team for durations of the season says a lot about said player. Ryan Christie has been a revelation since he broke into the Celtic team and hasn't looked back since. He had an absolutely phenomenal start to the season and looked to be running away from everyone in the goals tally. His form has dipped but Christie's performances this season have been unmatched at times and has been the most creative central player this season. With a stunning first day of the season hat-trick setting the standard, Christie has excelled domestically and in Europe in what has been a memorable season for the 25-year old.
Honourable Mentions: Scott Arfield - Rangers, Scott Allan - Hibernian
Striker - Odsonne Edouard - Celtic
Top scorer at Celtic, top player at Celtic. Top scorer in the league, best player in the league. It really is that simple when talking about Odsonne Edouard who is clearly the best and most promising talent in the league. A player who will likely follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Moussa Dembele with a big-money move, Celtic fans should appreciate the time they have left with the talented Frenchman. A great player who can be counted on in big games, the France Under 21 international possesses all the tools you want in a modern striker with skill, technique, strength and speed in abundance. A great player with another great season under his belt, the future is certainly bright for Edouard.
Honourable Mention: Christian Doidge - Hibernian
Striker - Lyndon Dykes - Livingston
Now, this is the one that'll probably cause the most controversy but I am fully sticking behind choosing Livingston's Lyndon Dykes over Rangers' Alfredo Morelos. There's not a more valuable player to a team than Dykes is to Livi as the striker who is only bettered by four Celtic players in goal contributions this season. Dykes has been involved in 14 goals this season - level with injury-plagued Jermaine Defoe, who probably would've made the team had he featured more - in a Livingston side who create a lot fewer chances than those at the top. Dykes is also a massive handful and give every centre half a torrid time - Christopher Jullien's worst nightmare - which has seen him gain massive praise from the likes of Ally McCoist and Derek Ferguson. With talks of a National Team call-up, Dykes has had a phenomenal season and is much more than the tough target man he is perceived to be. He has genuine class on the ball that has been seen countless times this season and a massive improvement on his finishing since joining from Queen of the South. He'll go on to better things eventually but what a pleasure he has been at the Tony Macaroni Arena and firmly deserves his spot in the Team of the Season.
My Team of the Season (3-5-2): Hladký, Jullien, Gallagher, Goldson, Forrest, Barišić, McGregor, Jack, Christie, Edouard, Dykes
I'm sure there will be many areas that people will wholeheartedly disagree with but I feel with my reasonings that I have been completely fair with my choices. It's no surprise to see the Old Firm make up most of the squad as both teams have had strong seasons. A couple of players in the honourable mentions were very unlucky to miss out which goes to show that we have some decent quality in this league. Hopefully, the 2020/21 season can start as normal and we can have another great season to enjoy - for Livingston more so than others. Until then, keep coming back for more football posts and make sure you stay safe! Thank you for reading and I'll see you in the next one.