WHAT position could your club do with strengthening before the end of the summer transfer window?
The guys at The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast looked at each Scottish Premiership team and came up with their suggestions. Here is their final thoughts for the 12 top flight clubs.
In their current incarnation, the Aberdeen squad desperately need a left-back. Andrew Considine and Johnny Hayes have been covering the positions, but it’s clear that neither are natural fits.
However, we believe that the current Aberdeen squad is perfectly set-up to play 3-5-2. It would allow Hayes to play on the left while providing extra cover for his defensive deficiencies, with Shaleum Logan possessing all the skills to play the other wing-back role on the right. Furthermore, it would allow Derek McInnes to field Considine, Russell Anderson and Mark Reynolds, all terrific centre backs in this league, in their natural position.
Should they move into such a style it would open up a place in the squad for another striker. Currently they have David Goodwillie, Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn at senior level capable of playing such a role. There’s a real similarity to all three and recruiting a larger, target man forward (but better than Calvin Zola or Scott Vernon) would give their approach more balance.
Position: Attacking central midfielder
This is not advocating the sale of Kris Commons. Even if Deila doesn’t fancy the look of the Celtic attacker, it would be foolish to jettison a 30 goal a season attacker so close to the end of the transfer window. However, it seems obvious that Ronny Deila wants his No.10 to be more athletic and be equally capable at pressuring the opposition without the ball as he would be with it.
Someone in the Stuart Armstrong mould would work very well in the system. It just depends whether Celtic would be willing to spend money on a Scottish prospect, and if they would be happy bringing someone in who they’ll have to develop or would rather go for someone with more pedigree of playing at the European level.
After Luka Tankulić’s poor start Dundee supporters might want another forward brought in, though the German should really be afforded another couple of months to settle into Scottish football before he’s written off. There’s also Greg Stewart and Peter MacDonald, and the emerging Craig Wighton, vying for a place in attack.
We’ve gone for winger in the end because the only two players in the team with any pace are Phil Roberts and Nicky Riley. Ever since Dundee were thrust into the top flight two years ago Riley has struggled with injuries - he’s actually out of action right now. Roberts, on the other hand, failed to impress with Inverness two seasons ago and hardly set the heather on fire at Falkirk last term before his petulance got him released from his contract 14 months early. Hartley should look for a more relaible option.
Position: Defensive midfielder
Lost in the wonder of United’s exciting attacking play is the rock solid defensive midfield duo which make it all possible. John Rankin and Paul Paton provide the foundation by retrieving the ball, keeping possession ticking over and protecting a young back four from being exposed by opposing attackers. United haven’t been without the pair for any lengthy period of time since Paton joined the club last summer so it’s hard to say for sure, but it wouldn’t be outwith the realms of possibility for a house of cards scenario to play out should one or both become injured. Last season they had insurance in the form of Morgaro Gomis. They need to find some new cover.
The new boys already have Jason Scotland and Mickael Antoine-Curier fighting it out for the lone striker role and, with a number of youngsters coming through from the heralded Hamilton youth academy, that will likely be enough for Alex Neil’s side.
If they have the means to strengthen they may look at signing a different type of striker to use in certain scenarios. Both Antoine-Curier and Scotland are bigger forwards - Curier in height, Scotland in girth - and the pair lack the dynamism to effectively run the channels. James Keatings fitted that type quite well but the current Hearts striker never embraced the squad rotation role granted to him after Scotland’s arrival. Getting someone in his mould balances out the attack nicely.
Inverness have a strong and balanced starting XI so the only area we can suggest is strength in depth. Danny Devine and Carl Tremarco can cover the defensive positions. Aaron Doran is an excellent winger off the bench and Richie Foran and James Vincent have still to come back from injury to fight for a place in the midfield. Even in goal they have the veteran Ryan Esson as back-up. The area where they are really short on cover, however, is up front. Billy Mckay has proven himself to be a durable leader of the line, but it might be a good idea to sign another striker. This will enable Hughes to rest his talisman at times while keeping little striker on his toes.
Position: Right back
Allan Johnston appears to have done a solid job of adding to his Kilmarnock squad this season. The one area that could perhaps use a little extra work is the back four. At centre back Mark Connolly has looked a good addition but time may be catching up on his partner Manuel Pascali. They do have Lee Ashcroft in reserve and the youngster showed enough promise in the latter half of last season to be given a chance should Pascali falter, though Johnston may wish to bring in someone more experienced.
In the end, however, we’ve gone for right back. Ross Barbour, at the age of 21, is still developing. There’s just doubts as to whether he’s currently got the ability to hold that role down for the entire season.
Position: Full back
Centre back is a huge issue right now, though Stuart McCall will likely wait on August loan recruit Mark O’Brien getting fit rather than bringing in another player for the position.
However, it may be foolish to take a similar stance with regards to the full-backs. Simon Ramsden is looking increasingly injury prone while Stevie Hammell’s had a difficult 2014 staying healthy. Zaine-Francis Angol, Hammell’s deputy, is also out, which has made a bad situation at left-back desperate in recent weeks. And even when he’s fit the former Tottenham youngster has defensive flaws which make Motherwell fans believe he’s more of a left-winger.
Hammell, at 32, is entering the final phase of his career. If the Motherwell budget will allow it, they should look to get a younger talent to provide cover and learn from the master.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Thistle, and Kallum Higginbotham in particular, picked up after re-signing Chris Erskine on loan last season. It gave defences another threat to worry about and opened avenues for Higginbotham to weave his magic. Since then the former Firhill hero has returned to his parent club Dundee United and Thistle have yet to try and sign a replacement. Steven Lawless has started on the opposite side from Higginbotham in the club’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system, but given his inconsistency last term there’s doubts as to whether he can become a regular top flight starter.
Obviously there are more pressing concerns for the Highland club right now after sacking George and Derek Adams. Should they find a quick replacement for either then the first thing the new man should look at is improving the defence. Quite frankly, it’s been woeful thus far. Three new players have started in the back four, so it’s not entirely surprising there have been some teething problems, though that doesn’t explain the softness from set-pieces. Scott Boyd is a decent enough centre back at this level, but he needs a hammer thrower beside him to make up for his lack of brute strength at the position. At full-back neither of the new pair, Jim Fenlon and Uros Celcer, have looked like replicating the rampaging runs of Erik Cikos and Evangelos Oikonomou.
Admittedly, this is the least likely suggestion of the lot. When this feature was first discussed the answer was a unanimous “striker” from everybody around the table; Stevie May had gone and a replacement was needed. That replacement came in the form of Brian Graham, which was a surprising move. We had envisioned a smaller, faster player to dart around Steven MacLean. Regardless, that’s likely to be St Johnstone’s last piece of business. If it isn’t then Tommy Wright may look at bringing in a bit more speed to the team. Only Michael O’Halloran stands out as a pacy player from the whole senior squad.
Position: Centre back
The jury came back a long time ago with a verdict that Marc MacAusland, at least in a St Mirren shirt, doesn’t quite cut it. The Buddies fans have been impressed with his centre half partner Ellis Plummer, and yet it hasn’t brought about an improvement from “Big Cheesy” so far. It’s a feeling of deja vu for the home supporters who have been bemoaning his performances for the past few years. MacAusland has all the tools, he just makes mistakes too frequently. A change of scenery in the not-too-distant future might be good for both him and his current club.
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