With 2014 fast approaching, Scotzine’s staff have been tasked with producing their Team of the Year. Selected contributors will select a starting eleven, five substitutes and a manager of their side and explain why they have chosen those on their list.
First up is Ross County fan blogger Aiden Wylie, kicking off our Team of the Year feature all the way from the paradise that is Iraq….
AIDEN WYLIE: TEAM OF THE YEAR 2013
This was really quite tricky. Firstly, I don’t see the other teams as much as I do Ross County, and it was hard not to put a slant as a result. The two County players I did include are, I think, there on merit, and on the basis that they’ve been most important to the team I have watched most regularly.
I deliberately only chose from players who spent the majority of 2013 in the top flight, so my apologies to Dundee and Partick Thistle players, it’s not personal. Teams with higher turnover of players, such as Hearts and Motherwell, also appear to lose out. Again, nothing against the fine players in both squads, just that the brightest flames often burn shortest.
GK: Fraser Foster (Celtic) – To force his way from the Scottish Premiership into the England team is no easy task. Though it may say much about the standard of the English keepers, Foster’s call up was much heralded across the UK.
RB: David Raven (ICT) – In lieu of a Dani Alves style standout, I’ve just gone for steadfast and reliable. The Inverness right back looked, at first, like a weak link, but in fact he retained his place week in, week out in one of the most consistent sides over the last 12 months.
LB: Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) – Consistently the standout player in Celtic’s back line. I would have placed both Oikonomou (Ross County) and Robertson (Dundee United) ahead, were it not for the self-enforced ruling that neither of these guys has spent the majority of the year in the top flight.
CB: Josh Meekings (ICT) – A composed figure at both right back and, particularly, centre half. Clearly learned a lot from Butcher, and is already one of the best defenders in the league. One fears what John Hughes will do to him.
CB: Scott Boyd (Ross County) – The personification of the cliché “Mr Consistency”. Will never be particularly flashy, nor particularly creative. Just does his job without getting sent off or resorting to last-minute, Colin Hendry style defending.
CM: Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) – I first saw him getting one of the most moronic red cards in football history against St Johnstone, but since then has gone on to be the key to the United midfield. An international career beckons. Or a move to a lower league English team and obscurity.
CM: Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) – The single most improved player at Ross County; the transition from bit-part squad player to midfield fulcrum has been completed in 2013. One of the few players to have played, and stood out, in all the divisions in the country throughout his career.
CM: Scott Brown (Celtic) – There are times Brown looks like a headless chicken – Neymar says hi, by the way – but, take him out of the Celtic (and indeed Scotland) midfield and his absence is palpable.
FWD: Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) – The Dundonian Messi tag does him no favours, but this year really has seen the development of a genuine prospect – Scotand hasn’t produced a real gem since Darren Fletcher, and it’s noticeable that, as usual, it’s not through the Old Firm youth system.
FWD: Billy Mackay (ICT) – Just constant. Scores pretty much every kind of goal, and not the kind of player you’d expect to see leading the line. But he does it. I’d say he’s probably the most irreplaceable of all the players in this team.
FWD: John Sutton (Motherwell) – Just because he was chronically misused at Hearts (for whatever reason) shouldn’t take away from the fact that he’s a highly effective striker.
Subs: Jamie MacDonald (Hearts), Ross Draper (ICT), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock), Kris Commons (Celtic).
Manager: Derek Adams (Ross County) – I’ve gone on record as saying there’s nobody, perhaps other than Terry Butcher, I would want to swap Derek Adams for among top flight teams. I stand by this.
Despite the underperformance of this season, the previous year saw a fifth place finish, an achievement which I still believe went under the radar. Promotion wouldn’t have been achieved, nor a top six finish, and without him this season could have been even more unpleasant than it already has been.
Do you agree with Aiden’s selection? Who would you have in your Team of the Year.