2. 2019/20 Player Ratings – Midfield

Sam Foley

Overall Rating 7.3

Best Month: August 8.3

Appearances 31

Goals 2

Assists 1

Man of the Match Awards: 6

Last August when Foley signed for Saints at the age of thirty two, a quick glance at his playing history suggested he was a journeyman midfielder who had played most of his career in the English third tier, a place where Saints had found no real quality in the past and his arrival at Paisley was met with indifference it is fair to say.

Privately however, people at the club had been blown away with Foley in training and bounce matches, and he was expected to surprise the support with his ability and standard of play, as well as making a big impact on the first team.

Like most of the summer signings, Foley made his debut at Easter Road on the opening day of the league season and sure enough had an excellent match where he was practically everywhere on the pitch snapping into tackles and being comfortable on the ball.

This was just for starters however, and Foley had an extraordinary first three months at the club in terms of consistent high performances, before injury kept him out for most of December, although he returned just in time to move back into defence against Kilmarnock in the last match of the decade and had a sensational game as Saints ripped the Ayrshire side apart.

Even though he is likely to be thirty-four by the time football returns, it is unlikely someone as fit and professional as Foley will have declined significantly enough to not still have the same impact on the first team. His stamina and work rate are both outstanding, and he covers the pitch with a surprisingly quick step. Most clubs in the Premiership would be happy to have Foley and he has been an absolutely magnificent signing by Jim Goodwin.

Cammy MacPherson

Overall Rating 6.9

Best Month: December 7.3

Appearances 23

Goals 2

Assists 3

Man of the Match Awards: 4

Anyone who has watched reserve or colt football over the past few years will know that young Cammy has always been the most likely player to break into the first team and stay there, as he was so far ahead of the rest he stuck out like Donald Trump going to a MENSA meeting.

MacPherson had been switched (out of position) between right back and right midfield for a period in the first team as tends to happen with younger players introduced at first, but it was always central midfield where his future was going to be, and now he has had a good run in that position there is little argument he is destined to stay there as he impresses on a weekly basis.

A hard worker and not scared of a tackle like any good player, it is technically where MacPherson is really strong however, and a fact often overlooked. His shooting from long range is excellent, a fact proven when he hammered home a low shot from the edge of the box against Hamilton to win our first away point and match of the season in December. How easy would it have been to smash that high into the stand, or the stupid netting Accies have up?

The young midfielder is bound to get only better in the coming seasons, and the question will likely be can we possibly keep him?

Ryan Flynn

Overall Rating 6.9

Best Month: November 8.0

Appearances 27

Goals 0

Assists 3

Man of the Match Awards: 2

The great renaissance of Ryan Flynn continued unabated this season, where he never failed to impress or even surprise as he turned into a brilliant makeshift right back during the great defensive crisis of December ’19.

Flynn’s average score actually does him a disservice as he was unlucky enough to appear in the dreadful League Cup campaign and his league average is considerably higher at 7.1, the fourth best at the club and this is no surprise to anyone who has watched him this season, where Flynn has put in a number of high quality performances throughout the campaign before injury ended his season in February against Hamilton Accies at St Mirren Park.

Central midfield though is where Flynn excels nowadays. His Saints career looked finished to be honest as he struggled on the wing for most of 2018, however he was reinvented in the centre by Oran Kearney and is now a real driving force in the side and one of the first names on the team sheet as he has went from strength to strength in that position.

Undoubtedly, Flynn is one of the most underrated players in the league and we can only hope he signs a contract extension during these troubling times as he would be very hard to replace at the club.

Kyle Magennis

Overall Rating 6.6

Best Month: August 7.8

Appearances 27

Goals 1

Assists 1

Man of the Match Awards: 1

This has been another frustrating season for Saints vice-captain, where injury has played havoc with his progress, however despite these frustrations for a third season in a row  we should remember Magennis is still only twenty-one years of age despite playing over one hundred matches for the club.

Like Ryan Flynn, his average score was dragged down by the League Cup debacle, and in the Premiership Magennis scored 6.9 making him one of the best and most important players once more at the club. What also hinders the youngster however, is his versatility.

Arguably, Magennis is the best central midfielder at the club which is quite a feat considering who else in the squad, however he has been used on the wing for large portions of the season due to injuries elsewhere and although he hasn’t let anyone down, this impacts on his own output but to the benefit of the side, and this is what makes Magennis the great team player he is.

COVID-19 is also looking to be an unlikely ally of Magennis’ own career, as he is not expected to be back training until the late summer, and likely to miss a few months of the regular 2020/21 season as he worked on his recovery. However, the probability is now that his own fitness could well peak before football resumes and he could be ready to go from day one next term. Small things and all that.

Stephen McGinn

Overall Rating 6.1

Best Month: October 7.3

Appearances 12

Goals 0

Assists 0

Man of the Match Awards: 0

Sadly, even without COVID-19, the Saints career of Stephen McGinn looked to have faded out with little more than a place on the bench and a wave to the fans as he warmed up, looking enviously at his teammates battle on the park in his continued absence from the first team.

McGinn never seemed to fit into the plans of Goodwin who wanted box to box players in the midfield area, therefore his game time this season has been very limited to three league cup appearances and just nine Premiership games.

However, this is not how Stephen McGinn should ever be remembered by Saints fans or the club, and I’m sure he won’t be. We’ve had many great captains in the history of St Mirren, and McGinn is up with the very best of them which should ensure his hall of fame induction in the coming years.

The great escape of 2016/17 wouldn’t have happened without McGinn. His influence on the team was key to the turnaround, and the performances of Mallan and Morgan increased monumentally once the eldest McGinn brother returned to the club.

In the Championship winning season, he controlled the tempo of tight games we needed to win at any costs and got us over the line. Last season, he dragged his battered body through the play off final despite being injured early in the second half of the game at Paisley and all our substitutes used. He achieved all of this whilst delaying surgery on a long-term leg problem to the detriment of his own health, and this has probably stopped him earning a new deal at Saints. That’s the sort of captain every club dream of, and Stephen McGinn will always be a hero in my eyes.

Off the field, you also couldn’t meet a better ambassador for the club than McGinn. He always had time for supporters, and even if he knew you just from recognising your face, he’d wave or toot his horn before giving a thumbs up.

This is the Stephen McGinn I will remember, a true club legend.

Tony Andreu

Overall Rating 6.2

Best Month: August 7.5

Appearances 27

Goals 2

Assists 6

Man of the Match Awards: 0

The Frenchman was one of the first players brought to the club by Jim Goodwin last summer and looked like a decent squad signing at the time, which is exactly what Andreu has turned out to be. 

Technically Andreu is still a competent footballer and has made some lovely assists this season as well as score a brilliant goal at Easter Road, however his impact is far more effective when used for the last half hour from the bench as opposed to starting a match, when he more often than not fails to make any real impression on the game.

At times, Goodwin’s loyalty to Andreu has bordered on absurd, however he is the most creative player at the club in terms of ‘key passes’ and is in the top 10 in the division for this statistic, which surprised me and I’m guessing everyone reading this.

His signing was probably a few years too late for Andreu to be an important player at the club, but his influence has probably been understated by everyone including me.

Personally, I wouldn’t renew his contract but wouldn’t be surprised if the manager does, as he seems to rate the Frenchman.

Kyle McAllister

Overall Rating 6.6

Best Month: February 7.0

Appearances 19

Goals 0

Assists 1

Man of the Match Awards: 0

Another player at the club whose season has been decimated by injury, young Kyle returned to Saints last August on a permanent three year contract with the potential to become one of the best attacking midfielders in the country, but as we all know, bad fortune and injury have haunted McAllister like Albert Kidd’s moustache dominates Sandy Clark’s thoughts before he sleeps.

When fit and playing, McAllister is one of my favourite players of the last ten years at Saints; a wonderfully gifted and creative footballer who would be far too good to play in Scotland had he not had so many injuries since he was sixteen.

However, McAllister must learn to manage with the cards he has been dealt as he will need incredible mental toughness to return to his best.

Perhaps he needs his own training regime or just some luck to get going again, but whatever it takes I hope he can find the correct formula so we can all see how good he is again.

Ilkay Durmus

Overall Rating 6.8

Best Month: February 7.3

Appearances 33

Goals 4

Assists 2

Man of the Match Awards: 1

One of the surprise signings of the week between League Cup capitulation and the Premiesrhip season starting in August 2019, Durmus arrived from Austrian side FC Wacker Innsbruck for an undisclosed fee and the German born left winger who plays for Turkey was hailed by Goodwin as a direct player capable of exciting the supporters. Eight months later, I think it is accurate to say Saints manager got this spot on.

Initially, Durmus struggled for consistency,  however most fans understood he was a young player coming to a new country and cut him some much needed slack, but he always looked capable on his day of being able to beat any full back in the country, as well as fall over the ball or just over completely, as has been the case sometimes.

Durmus undoubtedly is a good winger, however. He doesn’t seem to care if he doesn’t beat his man ten times in a row, he goes again and inevitably finds the measure of his opponent somehow, and this dogged persistence is a massive attribute in my opinion.

The same can be said for his decision making sometimes. This can be erratic and just when you have given up on him, Durmus will whip in a series of magnificent crosses. We have witnessed already some very impressive one-off games from the Turk, in particular his match winning performance against Kilmarnock at the end of last year but has had a number of excellent matches post winter break which suggests he is now settled in Scotland.

If Goodwin can get all Durmus’ game to come together on a regular basis, we will have one hell of a player on our books.

Jamie McGrath

Overall Rating 6.4

Best Month: January 7.0

Appearances 11

Goals 0

Assists 0

Man of the Match Awards: 0

McGrath arrived in January from European superpower Dundalk, much to the disgust of their fanbase and local media who portrayed it as the biggest football crime since The Rangers were robbed of 55 titles after the season stopped with them twelve points adrift in second place with only eight matches remaining. Oh, the scandal.

According to the Irish fans McGrath is a playmaker who likes to play in the number 10 role behind a striker, but we have mostly seen him on the wing where he has played ok, but not really made a massive impression. In my opinion however, I have seen enough from McGrath that he is going to be a good player for Saints once he plays in his true role, due to his clever passing and quick feet.

Technically he looks very assured, and his crossing was often outstanding, but it was the final match before COVID-19 struck against Hearts where McGrath proved how good he could be in a more orthodox central midfield role.

That night he was tough when needed but played some excellent football when required and every Saints fan should be optimistic for next season whenever it starts due to the quality of midfielder at the club currently, McGrath included.

Others………Jim Kellerman played one match for the club this season, from the bench against East Kilbride in the League Cup and was simply awful. Tried hard, but no surprise to see him freed during the season. Cammy Breadner played three league cup matches and came off the bench against Hibernian on the opening day of the season but hasn’t been seen since and is currently on loan at Stenhousemuir. From what I’ve seen of Breadner however, I like him and believe he may have a future at the club. Oan Djorkaeff arrived at the club in a media fanfare due to his famous father, however, has only played about ten minutes of football since the league cup group stages when he scored the winner in Goodwin’s first win as Saints boos against Edinburgh City. Likely to be freed soon. Ross Wallace joined the club in February after our injury crisis returned, and in his two starts so far has bagged a man of the match award and an assist for the winner against Hearts. Unlikely to be here next season but has contributed positively in his short spell at the club.