With the Scottish Premiership set to return from its final international break before the opening of the January transfer window Joel Sked grades the 12 teams’ summer transfer business.
Aberdeen - C
The signing of Lewis Ferguson is easily one of the best made by any side this season. Not only is he a young, talented midfielder who could fetch the team a sizeable profit in the future but he hit the ground running, becoming a key cog in the starting XI. He’s provided the two best moments of Aberdeen’s season so far: the acrobatic goal against Burnley in the Europa League and winner against Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
Another hit has been Max Lowe who provides greater athleticism and width as a left-back compared to Andrew Considine. The Dons are still missing a player of Kenny McLean’s ilk with Stephen Gleeson and Chris Forrester providing little of note.
The forward position is another issue with James Wilson inconsistent so far. There have been moments where the Manchester United loanee looks the answer but other times you are left asking the question.
Celtic - C+
The Parkhead side’s summer was shaped by their transfer policy. As the transfer window headed towards closing the club’s signings were: Scott Bain, Odsonne Edouard and Emilio Izaguirre. Two loans made permanent and a squad player.
Brendan Rodgers had earmarked positions to strengthen, namely centre-back. Filip Benkovic eventually arrived and has looked a class above since getting a run of games. But other areas weren’t and the club sold Moussa Dembele to Lyon on transfer deadline day which has left Celtic short.
Benkovic and Edouard have both had a consistent positive influence and added much to the team but they needed more.
Dundee - F
There were a number of reasons for Neil McCann’s departure from Dundee. One of which was recruitment. By the time the former Hearts and Rangers winger had left the club’s squad could have featured on Cowboy Builders. Those watching could only do so with bewilderment.
Jean Alassane Mendy doesn’t possess the quality to solve the goalscoring problem, Darren O’Dea, whose time as a footballer is drawing to a close, is still required, Cammy Kerr had been made to play at left-back and the decision to sign Jack Hamilton to suit McCann’s style of play continues to baffle.
The team have regressed from last season when they weren’t very good.
Hamilton - D+
Accies usually resemble a retail store mannequin. The same spine from season to season with new interchangeable, at times bizarre clothing and accessories. This summer perhaps brought one of the biggest changes and for every hit there has been a couple of misses.
Ziggy Gordon and Matthew Kilgallon have been positive additions, while ex-Hibs duo Scott Martin and James Keatings were shrewd pick-ups. However, far too many have been inconsistent (Delphin Tshiembe), simply not good enough (Sam Kelly) or moved on already (Adam Phillips). It means players like Dougie Imrie, whose influence is on the wane, are still relied upon by Martin Canning.
Only three summer signings feature in the top ten most used in terms of minutes played. They signed 16.
Hearts - A
A transformation was necessary at Tynecastle after recent poor forays into the transfer window. Eighteen players was more than many expected but the outcome has been largely positive. Only one player could be written off, that being Ryan Edwards who was sent to St Mirren on loan without playing a single competitive minute.
Zdenek Zlamal, Jimmy Dunne, Clevid Dikamona, Peter Haring, Olly Lee, Uche Ikpeazu, Steven Naismith and Steven MacLean have all strengthened the squad and form the spine of a new Hearts. Others have made their presence felt, like Ben Garuccio, while some, such as Craig Wighton, will take longer to make their mark.
The recruits have given Craig Levein options and the team much better balance and quality.
Hibs - B-
Neil Lennon had the unenviable task of replacing a midfield trio of Scott Allan, Dylan McGeouch and John McGinn. Reinforcements came in the shape of Mark Milligan, Emerson Hyndman, Daryl Horgan and Stevie Mallan. Each have had made an impact - Milligan’s poise and experience and Mallan’s shooting ability standing out - but that equilibrium is still to be developed.
Hibs did great business getting both Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren back to the club but the productive strike partnership has yet to pick up from where it left off last season due to injury and suspension. Thomas Agyepong has not filled the role of Brandon Barker, although Adam Bogdan has performed well enough to keep out the fit-again Ofir Marciano.
However, at times this term the team has looked short in numbers, something which fans have bemoaned.
Kilmarnock - B+
Having secured most of the important players from last season on contract extensions it was only Youssouf Mulumbu and Lee Erwin who needed replacing. Steve Clarke brought in Greg Stewart who has been an upgrade on the former Motherwell forward, while Aaron Tshibola returned to take on more responsibility in Mulumbu’s absence, dominating his former colleague in a defeat of Celtic.
Meanwhile, fans were ecstatic to sign Stuart Findlay on the permanent contract having watched the 23-year-old develop into a fine centre-back.
Killie have not needed their new signings to make significant improvements. Clarke’s team as a whole continue to improve with the likes of Jack Byrne, Bright Enobakhare and Mikael Ndjoli adding greater depth.
Livingston - B-
The newboys’ 16 signings didn’t suggest a team that would be one of the stories of the opening months of the season, defeating Rangers and Hibs and holding Hearts and Celtic. Livi were a peculiar, well-organised side in the Championship with a strong team spirit. Remove one or two pieces and the unit as a whole would come crumbling down.
Yet, that was clearly nonsense. Liam Kelly, Ricki Lamie, Steven Lawless and Dolly Menga have all become key members of the team with three or four others playing competent supporting roles within the team.
As ever with such a number of signings when making a step up a division there are those who simply haven’t worked out.
Motherwell - D-
The Steelmen didn’t quite get the same success in the transfer market as they did last season. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was brought in as a natural left wing-back/left-back but has not solved the issue with Richard Tait the preferred option. Alex Rodriguez Gorrin had been tracked by the club extensively before being signed to offer more finesse to the midfield. He’s played 13 minutes in the league.
Danny Johnson and Conor Sammon have not done enough to break-up Stephen Robinson’s preferred Curtis Main-Ryan Bowman partnership. The only success has been the re-signing of Tom Aldred who was with the team last term.
Rangers - B+
Revolution rather than evolution was a necessity at Ibrox as Steven Gerrard got his feet under his new desk. After Pedro Caixinha followed Mark Warburton, common sense and direction was vital in the transfer window. The Liverpool legend was backed with 15 players arriving, five of which were loans.
Such has been the success of the recruitment drive that only two players’ impact has been negligible - Gareth McAuley and Umar Sadiq. There has been a good mix of experience, players who know the Scottish game and those that can be deemed investments.
In Allan McGregor and Connor Goldson, Rangers have improved their backline significantly, Scott Arfield has added directness and goals from midfield, Lassana Coulibaly combativeness and Ryan Kent trickery and excitement. Sadiq’s lack of quality, however, has left the team short in attack and over-reliant on Alfredo Morelos.
St Johnstone - A-
One of the best transfer windows of Tommy Wright’s time at McDiarmid Park. He subsequently reduced the average age of the team, while adding greater power, pace and creativity without having to undertake an overhaul of the squad.
The signing of Tony Watt made complete sense and just seemed the perfect fit. Wright seems to possess Professor X qualities when it comes to enigmatic players. The ex-Celtic man may not have scored as many as he would have hoped but has been an excellent front man, linking play, bringing the team up the pitch, selfless running etc.
Drey Wright and Matty Kennedy have added penetration from deeper, helping to develop the sexy-fication of St Johnstone. The former in particular has been impressive with his dribbling and wing play. Ross Callachan has not looked out of place in midfield either.
St Mirren - F
Well, that was f*****g dreadful. Let’s not beat around the bush, Alan Stubbs’ recruitment drive has hamstrung the Buddies on their top-flight return. Two players have already returned to their parent clubs, while another was sent out on loan. St Mirren fans would happily fuel up a van for a whirlwind stop of England to get rid of the others.
Captain Stephen McGinn summed it up best when he noted that the players signed had not played a lot of football. Some have played too much football at St Mirren for the liking of many supporters.
The club have regressed since strolling to the Championship title, shorn of last season’s top goal scorer, key player and manager. New boss Oran Kearney has had to try his hand in the free agent market to try and sort the gaping issues.