2018/19 – Player Reports

This season, I decided from match one against Kilmarnock in the League Cup through to the play off final, to score each player out of ten in every fixture, primarily to see who was the most consistent player over a full campaign.

Quite often I feel when Player of the Year awards are voted for, there is a natural bias towards players performing well at that particular time, (it’s an actual phenomenon called recency bias) and consistency over a full campaign may be overlooked.

This season, Ryan Flynn and Paul McGinn both won player of the season awards, and in absolutely no way would I grudge them this honour, but in my opinion over the full season they probably weren’t our best players, and it was their excellent form in the second half of the season that clinched it.

It has not however been is been a normal season. The form and confidence of the majority of players at the club last summer was seriously affected by Alan Stubbs management, so much so that the aforementioned Flynn and McGinn fluctuated from as low as a 5.4 average in October to 8.0 in April, as the belief returned to the squad.

Some of the average scores over the campaign surprised me in terms of how low their average was (Erahon, Hodson, Flynn and Paul McGinn), but that was the whole point of the exercise as I wanted to factor out recency bias.

You can see a full breakdown of various stats on this page –

https://cairterscorner.com/2018-19-player-stats/

In the meantime, you can have a look at my report on each player below:

Craig Samson – Average rating 6.5 (17 appearances). Like most players already at the club in the summer it was unclear if Samson had a future as Alan Stubbs ripped the heart out of the club with his V9 vision of death, and it looked as though Danny Rodgers on loan from Aberdeen would replace him in goals. Samson stood firm though and after saving multiple penalties in the League Cup group stages held onto the number 1 slot before retiring in November to take a coaching role at Sunderland. This paved the way for Hladky, so no grudges held.

Danny Rodgers. Average rating 4.4 (5 apps). One of Stubbs signings, in a seemingly clear message to existing players at the club that their time was up. However, Rodgers, (who was a competent keeper in the Championship for Falkirk) looked well out of his depth like most of the summer recruitment and practically conceded every time a shot was on target, including a dreadful last performance in the 3-1 defeat at Livingston. Willie Miller reckons Rodgers should stay at St Mirren, the type of knowledge we expect from the only person on the planet who made a financial loss selling fish suppers in Scotland.

Dean Lyness – Average rating 7.0 (4 apps). A short term signing after Rodgers was injured in September, Lyness looked like a decent keeper after replacing the extremely shaky on loan Aberdeen keeper at the end of 2018, and made a crucial save late on at Motherwell in the 1-0 win. Left soon after for Raith Rovers

Vaclav Hladky – Average rating 7.4 (21 apps). After a barren spell for really good keepers after Campbell Money retired in the mid 1990’s, the Czech keeper arrived in January and has made as big an impact as a Jim McLean hook to a BBC journalist. It is probably safe to say we would have been relegated without Hladky, and his performances were nothing short of sensational. Hopefully Saints can hold onto him as he is contracted next season, but already he is being linked with other European clubs. If Hladky leaves, it will be as a hero. Would stop Brexit if it was a football.

Paul McGinn – Average rating 6.3 (46 apps). In many ways Paul McGinn epitomises Saints entire season. Due to the Stubbs factor, the third McGinn to play for Saints struggled badly in the early part of the campaign, to the extent some had written him off completely. However from mid-December an upturn in form started which led to a steady and then rapid improvement which meant he ended the season as important as anyone in the squad. Should be a key player again next season for the club.

Cole Kpekawa – Average rating 3.75 (8 apps) A typical Stubbs signing, out of his depth and more junior level than professional. Possibly killed a pigeon at Hampden against Queens Park with one his clearances. Freed in January, but even at zero he isn’t a bargain.

Jack Baird –Average rating 6.4 (43 apps) The big centre half is improving by the season, and didn’t look out of place in the Premiership at all, in fact I would argue Baird is more suited to this level as he has to defend more which is his undoubted strength. Also getting more comfortable on the ball as he gets older, but disappointingly didn’t bite anyone this campaign again.

Alfie Jones – Average rating 6.2 (12 apps) Another of Stubbs signings, Jones didn’t look up to the task at all when he first arrived and was discarded into the “extra” training camp with the rest of Mr Potato Heads other signings when Kearney took over. What that involved we do not know, I like to think Oran went up with a bag of cornflakes and convinced them it was a jigsaw. Jones to his credit however broke free and fought his way back into the first team in October, where he actually played quite well.

Josh Heaton – Average rating 2.0 (2 apps) It should be remembered that Heaton only played twice for the club this season, however it should also be remembered that it was against Spartans and Queens Park and he averaged a score of 2.0 out of 10. It’s difficult to judge therefore as several players recovered from dreadful starts under Stubbs to become key players. Time will tell if Heaton will be another.

Anton Ferdinand – Average rating 6.7 (18 apps) The first signing made by Kearney and an important one. When he turned up he was as fit as a calzone, but turned in an outstanding performance against Celtic and was our best player in the first half of the season in my opinion. Opposition fans like to point out he can’t run anymore, but he doesn’t need to as he just intercepts everything. Also a generally good guy off the park, and was a credit to the club.

Lee Hodson – Average rating 6.2 (23 apps) Arrived with a battered reputation from The Rangers, and looked like a player utterly devoid of any confidence in his early days at the club, not helped by the fact Stubbs was picking the team. Eventually the full back settled down and put in some fine performances before being injured in January, but seamlessly came back into the side for the last three matches. Would definitely take him back.

Hayden Coulson – Average rating 5.6 (11 apps) As Alan Stubbs froze Adam Eckersley out completely, the club needed a left back, so Stubbs signed left back Cole Kpekawa and played him centre half, meaning left winger Coulson went to left back, meaning we had no left wingers as Hippolyte was sold. Make sense? Nope, me neither. Coulson looked promising but was as much a left back as John Beaton a St Mirren fan. His loan was cut short after the 3-0 defeat to Hamilton in September.

Mihai Popescu – Average rating 7.4 (21 apps) To go from Kpekawa at centre half in one part of the season to Popescu in the other is as extreme a contrast as you possibly could get. It’s like dating Catman and then landing a dreamboat like Cody Cooke. The signing not only highlighted how well Kearney and MacPherson recruited in January, it just shows what happens when some thought goes into transfers, unlike Stubbs who walked into a pub in Shropshire and picked ten randoms to sign. Popescu was a Rolls Royce defender, in the Norrie McWhirter mould, and if we get him back would be a sensational piece of business.

Matek Muzek – Average rating 6.7 (16 apps) Although he struggled in some matches, the Croatian’s level of performances were good in general and the team looked better when he was in the side as he is a natural full back. It’s unknown what the future holds for the left back, but as we’ve demonstrated multiple times in the last few years we go do a lot worse.

Laurentiu Corbu –Average rating 6.3 (3 apps) Signed near the transfer  deadline, the full back’s loan appeared to be a reaction to the news that Hodson was out probably for the season, and he only featured three times. Either that or the management wanted to help Popescu settle in better, so he was a great signing!

Ethan Erahon – Average rating 5.9 (23 apps) The youngster was flung into the Rangers home match due to Adam Eckersley’s late call off, and played so well Kearney kept faith with him for long periods of the season. Despite not being a natural left back Erahon more than held his own and was an improvement on Stubbs dross. Why even look at the V9 academy when we have our own successful youth one? It will be interesting to see where Erahon plays in the future.

Gary MacKenzie – Average rating 7.9 (7 apps) Just seven appearances MacKenzie made in the season, and the Bank was injured in two of them after head knocks and therefore substituted, and was also hooked at half time against Livingston in the 3-1 win. Sounds bad, but when on the park there is no doubting the influence and ability of MacKenzie. He is an outstanding centre back and scored the highest average mark of any player, although he didn’t play enough to meet the cut in the player of the year award. Undoubtedly would have headed clear the air bomb flung by Celtic fans at Hladky had he been fit.

Cammy MacPherson – Average rating 6.5 (18 apps) A player of real potential, MacPherson can play right back or central midfield, but it is the latter where I think his career will develop. Had really only played League One football on loan before this season, so it was a big step up in the Premiership, but he didn’t let anyone down and will be pushing hard for a squad place again next campaign.

Kyle Magennis – Average rating 6.7 (19 apps) Another injury ridden season for the mega talented youngster, but when he plays St Mirren are just a much better side. The midfielder only appeared in 14 league matches, yet we picked up 19 points in them, compared to just 13 points in the other 24 games, and we were only defeated five times with him in the side, all before Christmas! Once again Kyle was shifted out wide a few times this season, but it was more a necessity than being overlooked. Will undoubtedly be the next big thing from our academy to make a move; hopefully in a few years time mind you.

Stephen McGinn –Average rating 6.6 (43 apps) The captain was criticised early in the season by some, but not by me. He was one of the few still playing at any kind of level needed and you could practically see in his face every week the rage he felt because of what and who he was playing beside. His influence remains paramount to the success of the side, and you kind of get the feeling he would bleed for the cause.

Jeff King – Average rating 4.3 (3 apps) You remember Jeff, right? Three appearances all in the League Cup, and the king of Jeffs was discarded quicker than a St Mirren fan calling into Radio Clyde. All I need to write is the word ‘Stubbs’.

Ryan Flynn – Average rating 6.3 (35 apps) The winger has reinvented himself as an all action central midfielder, and we like it. Looked to be going out the door before Christmas, but since then scored the second highest average of any player behind Popescu and equal with Hladky, and was basically undroppable such was the level he was playing at. Still has a year left in his contract and hopefully we can extend for the man nicknamed ‘Flynniesta’ by some.

James Kellermann – Average rating 4.5 (6 apps) Almost the forgotten man of the squad. Signed by Jack Ross only to be sent out on loan by Alan Stubbs to a level higher than the ex-manager signed most of his players from, and then only played against Celtic for Kearney. For most of the season I thought his surname was Kellerman, unaware of the double N at the end, which perhaps sums up the campaign for the bold Jim where he was given little opportunity to make an impact. Scored against Dumbarton in the cup, so perhaps deserves a chance to see what he can do.

Jordan Kirkpatrick – Average rating 4.3 (3 apps) Never seemed convinced himself that he belonged at a club our size, and I felt he hid in matches because of this. Undoubtedly he can play football a bit, but the lower leagues are his level and it was no surprise when he was let go in January.

Mathew Willock – Average rating 5.6 (14 apps) In one of the shocks of the season Stubbs signed a player from England not from the V9 academy, but from somewhere just as bad apparently, the Man Utd under 23 squad. Willock was tall and mobile, but had the bravery of a large Casio keyboard and the passing range of a sea bass. Returned to Manchester before Christmas.

Ryan Edwards – Average rating 5.6 (12 apps) The first pirate to play for Saints, Edwards effort cannot be faulted, in fact his energy levels are incredible. Football wise, he is lacking however and the astonished reaction from the crowd when he found Cammy Smith with a pass against St Johnstone in December says it all. Has found his level at Hearts.

Ian McShane – Average rating 6.0 (6 apps) Couldn’t catch a break at Saints, and despite being useful was always the odd man out when tactics were changed during the match, even it meant being subbed after 20 minutes. Sold to Falkirk in January by Kearney, McShane must think he was being punished by repeated Saints managers after being discarded by Ross and transfer listed by Stubbs.

Adam Hammill – Average rating 6.4 (13 apps) Bagged Saints four points practically on his own with goals against Hibs and Hearts including one from 60 yards and another from only 40 yards. A wonderfully gifted player, but considering how dynamic the team finished the season I am not convinced he would have got much game time. A joy to watch though.

Greg Tansey – Average rating 5.8 (8 apps) A man absolutely ruined by injury, Tansey had fought his way back to full fitness before his transfer to Saints from Aberdeen, but was struck down with another bone infection shortly after this. Tansey was grassed up on twitter to the SFA by some Hearts mutant for absolutely poleaxing him, so bonus point incoming. He admits himself he may never play again, and I wish him all the best.

Anders Dreyer – Average rating 6.0 (11 apps.) A skillful player undoubtedly, but struggled to adapt to the frantic nature of football in Scotland at first after arriving from Brighton and seemed a bit overwhelmed. However, in his last three performances we witnessed that the Dane was turning into a good player before unfortunately being injured and his loan terminated.

Brad Lyons – Average rating 6.1 (17 apps). Had some good games for the club and scored a crucial winner against Dundee, but overall I was disappointed with his contribution, although I don’t want to be too critical as this was his first ever taste of full time first team football. Had a few fresh air swipes at the ball, so I was delighted when he couldn’t take a penalty against Dundee United. Needs stronger contact lenses.

Kyle McAllister – Average rating 6.8 (19 apps). As gifted a player to come through our academy this century, injuries have hindered the progress of McAllister since he left for Derby County in 2017, so this loan spell has really been the first he has played since leaving originally. On his game he was irresistible in spells, but sometimes drifted out of matches completely, as you would expect from someone that inexperienced in terms of games. However, when it mattered he produced some big performances. Would love to have him back in Paisley.

Danny Mullen –Average rating 6.6 (29 apps). Top scorer in the squad despite missing a large chunk of the season with injury. One of the existing players not frozen out by Stubbs, and his hard work and good attitude is being more regularly complimented with goals, particularly towards the end of the season, including some outstanding strikes. Scored four times in his last eight starts of the campaign from the Dundee home win in March, and hopefully he can reach well into double figures next season as he is very capable of doing so.

Cody Cooke – Average rating 6.2 (18 apps) Signed by Stubbs and ridiculed more for his fellow summer signings than anything else, a guilty by association tag which was a bit unfair on the big striker. Cooke worked hard all season though and was rewarded by playing a significant part in the run in. The hat-trick at Dens Park of course stands out, but he gave the Dundee United defence a really hard time over the two play-off matches, and could very well become a very useful signing. Surely a guarantee to model the new strips this season.

Ross Stewart – Average rating 5.8 (4 apps) The giant striker moved to Ross County for £40k after starting and playing well in the opening league match, in another of Stubbs bizarre clear out moments leaving us with just Mullen as a central attacker. Didn’t seem good enough for Saints, but was still far far better than his replacement………………..

Nicolai Brock- Madsen – Average rating 4.4 (4 apps) I have a general rule in football, players with double barreled surnames are usually rubbish. Brock- Madsen however proved this wrong, as he was beyond rubbish; he made Chris Kane look like Hrsto Stoichkov. To prove English clubs have more money than sense, Birmingham City paid £700,000 for him, that’s seven times what Hibs initially paid us for John McGinn. Won a header against Hearts in the 48th minute back in September and was returned to England by Kearney after being rotten. Future Dundee United captain.

Cammy Smith – Average rating 6.0 (24 apps) No point in messing about, it seems Stubbs broke Smith. A talented footballer, but was never the same after falling out with the ex-manager and transfer listed. Actually started the season well, but despite being the best number 10 in the squad was shifted out wide where he was nowhere near as effective. Moved to lower league Dundee United in January, and is so bereft of confidence Nicky Clark and McMullan get a game in front of him.

Simeon Jackson –Average rating 6.5 (31 apps) The Canadian was brought in by Kearney after assessing the horrifying attack options in the squad left by Stubbs, which must have been like going into a restaurant and being offered a dessert of dog food with baby bio seasoning. The forward was probably past his best, but was a big improvement on what we had at the time and undoubtedly done a job for us. Would trust Alan Stubbs with a transfer window more than Simeon with a penalty though.

Duckens Nazon – Average rating 6.2 (12 apps) Came in with a decent reputation after playing well in League 1 and 2 in England, but that’s an easier level than the Scottish Premiership and despite flashes of potential failed to impress often enough in my opinion, with a penalty kick and deflected cup goal his only positive contribution. Although to be fair, he probably wasn’t match fit for a long period. A very strong and direct player, he actually played well in the play-off final when introduced before being sent off for being a St Mirren player. Had a great wee song though.

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