Winners and losers in Scottish football this week

Lewis Macleod was included in the latest Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
Lewis Macleod was included in the latest Scotland squad. Picture: SNS
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BEFORE the excitement of the weekend’s football comes around once more, Craig Fowler, John Callan and Craig Cairns of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast look back over the past six days and select the winners and losers.

THE WINNERS

Stuart McCall (Motherwell)

Highlight: Epitomised class with the way he’s conducted himself following resignation.

May seem like a strange choice considering he just resigned in the midst of Motherwell’s worst start to a season since the 1980s, but without any pressure from above he decided to step down. In fact, it seems Motherwell tried their best to dissuade him from leaving, such is the regard he is held in. Then on his BBC interview over the last few days he displayed copious amounts of humility. He answered every question honestly, he didn’t deflect, he didn’t dodge and he didn’t blame anyone. He is one of the club’s most successful managers and it is a shame it ended the way it did, but the way he has conducted himself has been exemplary. Many others would have held on for the sack and compensation. CC

Lewis Macleod (Rangers)

Highlight: Called up to the Scotland squad for the first time.

Some of the anger was well over the top. Lewis Macleod has been excellent this season and is one of the better, if not the best, Rangers player on a team that would easily be strong enough to be a European contender in the top flight. Sure, it’s predictable whenever a Rangers player gets called up, but he’s the kind of player that Scotland supporters should be pleased about being in the squad. You could get into a tedious, partisan argument over whether he deserves it more than someone else, but if your main gripe with Gordon Strachan is that he’s including a player like Macleod, then Scotland must be pretty well set just now. CF

Michael O’Halloran (St Johnstone)

Highlight: Scored twice, including the winner, in St Johnstone’s victory over Motherwell.

This nomination is more a nod to the St Johnstone front three: O’Halloran, James McFadden and Brian Graham. It seems a quite uninspiring attack on first glance. However, take a closer look: you’ve got creativity, pace, strength, goal scoring, technique, and height. You’ve got everything you need for a top class strike duo. It’s just that in Saints case it’s spread across three players. Discovering a viable threat might just kick-start St Johnstone’s season. We’ve been waiting on a revival for a few weeks now. JC

Aidan Connolly and Charlie Telfer (Dundee United)

Highlight: Both made first ever league starts. Telfer capped his display with a goal.

It seemed during parts of their recent win over St Mirren like Dundee United had unleashed two Ryan Gauld clones they had been working on but hadn’t quite got right. Neither played that No.10 role but both moved into the area from their respective positions - Connolly from the right, Telfer as part of a central midfield three. Telfer managed to get on the scoresheet and Connolly was there or there about for the three goals and many of their other chances. Connolly also looked impressive versus Hibs in the cup. The depth that these players give Dundee United is very promising. They were able to drop Rankin, bring Armstrong and Erskine off the bench, and still win comfortably. CC

Greg Stewart (Dundee)

Highlight: Scored twice in Dundee’s win at Kilmarnock, including an impressive finish for the opener.

He’s now got four goal in his last three games. Of all the guys who were earmarked as astute buys in the summer, he was generally overlooked, yet doesn’t look at all out of place for someone who’s never played at this level before. He’s got a good range of talents. He’s quick, strong, has a good touch and can finish. You wonder what the hell scouts and youth coaches were looking at all these years. People talk about Andy Robertson’s meteoric rise. Stewart’s isn’t as spectacular, but it is almost as impressive. CF

THE LOSERS

Jim Goodwin (St Mirren)

Low point: Elbow on Aidan Connolly earned him a three match ban

He started in central defence with Marc McAusland versus Dundee United and they were dreadful. Especially Goodwin. He came out of position and failed to win the ball for the first two goals. After the second goal he turned to blame someone else. Then he took his frustration out on Connolly. The frequency with which this happens is genuinely sad. Poor McAusland too - he needs someone to drag him through games just now, not a hatchet man on some sort of career-twilight rampage. CC

Ziggy Gordon (Hamilton)

Low point: Hamilton threw away a 2-0 home lead in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Partick Thistle.

Great player who had an uncharacteristically poor game at the weekend. At fault for the first goal where he misjudged the flight of the ball and then did a very poor job of trying to play the offside trap at the third, before doing that really annoying thing of half-heartedly running back with his hand in the air instead of putting pressure on Christie Elliott. In fairness to Gordon, any member of the Hamilton defence - bar Jesus Garcia Tena who went off injured at 2-1 - would deserve a mention. CF

Billy Mckay (Inverness CT)

Low point: Dropped to the bench for Inverness CT’s loss at Celtic; missed late chance to level.

Maybe relegating him to the bench was because he needed it rather than him being punished - he still does a lot for the team and is getting into the right positions, his finishing is just lacking for now. Sometimes when strikers aren’t scoring the best thing for them is to be taken out of the line-up. Instead of keeping the pressure on them to end their drought, you’re giving them a renewed determination to prove their worth. That’s the theory, at least. Marley Watkins has shown he can play that position, though he’s probably not a long-term replacement for Mckay. JC

Jim McIntyre (Ross County)

Low point: Watched his Ross County side follow up a hard fought draw in Paisley with a lacklustre display against Aberdeen.

It seems like one step forward, two steps back at the moment: a draw away to Inverness, a thumping at home from Celtic. A draw they were unfortunate not to win away to St Mirren then an impotent performance at home on Monday night. He also seems no closer to having a starting eleven he feels comfortable with. There have been consistencies between the last two line ups, yes, but it is uninspiring to say the least. They certainly need to show a bit more going forward if they’re going to haul themselves out of trouble. CC

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