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

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hislopsoffsideagain

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What do you mean, you weren't around for the first 11 years I did this?

Let's look back at the previous ones, not least because many of them make me cringe.


PREVIOUS TEAMS OF THE YEAR

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 United)

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)

2017/18: Jon McLaughlin (Hearts), James Tavernier (Rangers), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Christophe Berra (Hearts), Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Scott Brown (Celtic), Dylan McGeouch (Hibernian), John McGinn (Hibernian), James Forrest (Celtic), Daniel Candeias (Rangers), Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock)


Kris Boyd holds the record for most appearances on this list, with four. Can he make it five this year? (Spoiler: of course he can't).

When this tradition began all the way back in 2008 Gordon Strachan was Celtic manager, Rangers were on their way to Manchester, Lee Wilkie's knees were still just about holding together, and we were all feeling reasonably bullish about George Burley as the new Scotland boss. And, remarkably, the very first name on that teamsheet is the very first name on this one too...



GOALKEEPER: ALLAN MCGREGOR (RANGERS)
Honourable mentions: Zander Clark (St. Johnstone), Liam Kelly (Livingston)

11 years after he made my first ever Team Of The Year, McGregor is back. Shagger's form has tailed off a bit after Christmas but he was sensational in the first half of the season. He may be 37 but it looks like there's a few years left in him yet. Clark doesn't get enough credit for his consistency for St. Johnstone. Kelly has got a lot of practice at saving shots at times this season, but has made the most of it. Still only 23, he has a very bright future ahead of him.


RIGHT-BACK: JAMES TAVERNIER (RANGERS)
Honourable mentions: Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian), Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock)

Tavernier gets in for the second year running. I maintain that he isn't quite as dreadful a defender as many make out; even if he is, the goals and assists he provides more than makes up for that. Smith was solid and dependable for Hearts, while O'Donnell deserves to be in the Scotland squad and gets bonus points for his empire biscuit baking skills.


CENTRE-BACKS: KRISTOFFER AJER (CELTIC), CRAIG HALKETT (LIVINGSTON)
Honourable mentions: John Souttar (Hearts), Efe Ambrose (Hibernian), Connor Goldson (Rangers), Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone)

This was really, really hard. My original duo were Souttar, who was terrific for Hearts when fit, and Kerr, who largely flew under the radar despite keeping up his high level of performance even as the rest of the St. Johnstone team hit a spring slump.  There was also a strong argument to be made for Efe Ambrose, who would have been a shoo-in if this had been produced in January; however he left for Derby County. is often the trickiest position to fill and this year was no exception as no candidate really excelled all season long.

So I asked the twitterverse for their opinions and two names came up repeatedly. Kristoffer Ajer was the first; if Ambrose shone most before Christmas its the young Norwegian who has excelled so far in 2019. It certainly seems like the Norwegian will move onto greater things before too long. He has the physical presence of a Scottish defender but the technical ability of a continental one. And his recent form shows that he continues to improve with experience. Alongside him is Livi's Craig Halkett who has made the step up to the top flight with ease and thoroughly earned his upcoming move to Tynecastle. And he's not even 24 till May.

The other name worth mentioning in passing is Goldson, though that's mainly based on his no-nonsense performances in the first half of the campaign. He's looked a bit more vulnerable recently though.


LEFT-BACK: KIERAN TIERNEY (CELTIC)
Honourable mentions: Max Lowe (Aberdeen), Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)

Tierney could play with his eyes closed and still be the best left-back in the country, but I do feel he's reached the limit of how much he can improve when playing in Scotland week-in, week-out. If he's to become the best player he can be, he needs to test himself at a higher level (six Europa League games a year doesn't count).

Lowe is the left-back Aberdeen have dreamed of for years, which makes it all the more galling that they'll surely lose him in the summer. Taylor continues to learn and develop nicely at Rugby Park. He's played more than 100 Premiership games and he's still only 21.


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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