I was recently asked to participate in a vote to determine the winner in STV’s Online Writers’ Scottish Player of the Year. The premise was simple, supply the top five Scottish players of this season. The following are my choices and the order in which they come.
1st – Kenny Miller
I was not always a big fan of Miller. Nobody could deny his work rate, but he often seemed scared when through on goal and would more often than not run out of ideas and the chance would be gone. He was also not the type of attacker who would score from outside the box, so I did wonder how he would perform this season when Rangers main source of goals – Kris Boyd – left.
It goes to show why I am not plying my trade in football management as Miller gave a very impressive, dare I say world class, return of twenty one goals in only eighteen games during this seasons Scottish Premier League. This was only one season after managing eighteen in thirty three.
With his contract running down, Rangers decided to cash in on him and sold him to Turkish side, Bursaspor, where he managed five goals in fifteen games. That stat is not as impressive, but bear in mind that he was playing in a new league, in a new country, and was not playing for either of the top two teams in the league.
His impressive goals return at Rangers is even more remarkable when you consider that he finished the season as top scorer, with one goal more than Celtic’s Gary Hooper, who played eight games more than Miller.
2nd – Allan McGregor
When I selected McGregor as my number two choice, the season was still running and the destination of the SPL trophy was still to be decided. I wanted to comment on a specific save that he made during the season, but there were so many that stood out, so many that could be considered world class, that I couldn’t whittle it down to just one. Now that the season is over, and with the benefit of hindsight, I would put his save against Samaras down as his defining moment. If Samaras had scored that goal, it would almost certainly have given Celtic the momentum to go on and win the title, with enough of points margin to even allow for the ICT blip.
Craig Gordon moved to the Premiership for £9 million, yet McGregor has ousted him as Scotland’s number one. I know Gordon has suffered through injury, but even when fit, he could not dislodge McGregor and that is testament to his quality.
There is talk of him signing a long term contract at Rangers, but even if this does happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if a top Premier League team came knocking in the summer because he certainly has the quality to play at that level.
3rd – Charlie Adam
We all remember Adam in his Rangers days, where he was more of a utility man, often utilised on the left wing, who would occasionally pop up with a 25 yard screamer, occasionally put in a performance against Celtic, but apart from that, he made few headlines.
At Blackpool, he has reinvented himself in a more central role and has become the heartbeat of a side, who have at times impressed, particularly in the first half of the season, in one of the top leagues in Europe.
His vision and range of passing remind me of David Beckham, particularly with the number of Hollywood passes that he does, which more often than not, fall right at the intended targets feet.
He can also score and this season he has racked up eleven goals in thirty four games.
Although he had pulled on the Scotland jersey during his Rangers days, he fell out of favour, but his performances this season caught Craig Levein’s eye and he has settled into a more central role for Scotland, mirroring his role at Blackpool and it looks unlikely that he will be ousted when the competitive qualifiers continue in September.
4th – David Goodwillie
Dundee United’s David Goodwillie, finished the season in third place in the SPL top scorers chart with 17 goals in 37 games. This is impressive, even before you consider that he is still only 22. It is even more admirable when you consider his off-field allegations and the resulting abuse that he has had to endure from opposing fans.
Goodwillie reminds me of Kenny Miller, in that his work rate is tremendous. Adding his natural eye for goal makes it no surprise that he is being heavily linked to a summer move to Rangers, as well as previously being linked with a move to the English Championship.
His fine club form was capped off by being awarded the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year.
5th – Darren Fletcher
Fletcher is often overlooked when listing your favourite player at Manchester United. He doesn’t have the tricks that Nani has, the pace of Evra, or the goals of Rooney, but he is as essential as those three when it comes to making the team tick.
His role is primarily to do the dirty work, by breaking up play and passing the ball to someone more creative, effectively letting them shine. In saying that, he does get forward himself occasionally and does popup with the odd goal.
The fact that he will likely be representing Scotland in the Champions League final solidifies his inclusion in my top 5.