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Richard Gordon: My Scottish Premiership team of the season

Two Aberdeen players made my final selection - with others unfortunate to miss out.

Aberdeen's Luis 'Duk' Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Luis 'Duk' Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock. Image: SNS

With the regular Premiership season done and dusted, and just the play-off final to be concluded on Sunday afternoon, it seems the obvious time to reflect on what has been a tumultuous top-flight campaign – and to highlight the players who have excelled throughout.

It has been a high-scoring season with some outstanding individual contributions from strikers, and that is reflected in the make-up of my top-flight team of the year.

My goalkeeper is JOE HART. He has his odd moments, but over the piece he has shown admirable consistency, and played a major role in Celtic successfully defending their title. Kelle Roos was in my thoughts, and he made some incredible saves, but just conceded too many goals to get the nod.

Celtic’s Joe Hart punches the ball clear against Aberdeen at Parkhead. Image: SNS

The Champions also provide the heart of my back four, and I cannot separate the partnership of the dominant CAMERON CARTER-VICKERS and his sidekick, CARL STARFELT. Celtic are not often under too much pressure, but when they have been, those two have stepped up.

Angus MacDonald and Mattie Pollock had to be considered, but were only at the club for half of the campaign. JONNY HAYES does make it at left-back, the veteran defying the years to enjoy a superb season, with JAMES TAVERNIER, Rangers’ joint-top scorer, taking the right back slot.

Jonny Hayes, left, of Aberdeen and James Tavernier, of Rangers, are my left and right-back picks. Image: SNS

I have gone for another Celtic pairing to anchor the midfield. CALLUM McGREGOR makes this team every year and his sustained level of performance is breathtaking. This time round, he was ably assisted by the outstanding REO HATATE, whose drive and energy played a massive part in his side’s success.

Celtic’s Reo Hatate. Image: SNS

With so many forwards to choose from, the front four took a lot of consideration, and I eventually rejected a number of players who would have merited inclusion.

I ultimately sacrificed width – Tavernier and Hayes are more than capable of providing that – and went with goalscorers.

Playing just behind, I have gone for the Premiership’s top scorer, KYOGO FURUHASHI. His 27-goal haul has only once been bettered in the past decade, by Leigh Griffiths, and the Japanese is well on his way to becoming a Celtic legend.

Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi goes close against Aberdeen. Image: SNS

KEVIN VAN VEEN finished the season by netting in eleven straight matches, a new record in the SPFL top division, and came up just two shy of Kyogo. I am going to play him through the middle, with LAWRENCE SHANKLAND and LUIS ‘DUK’ LOPES either side.

Kevin van Veen. Image: SNS
Lawrence Shankland. Image: SNS

The Hearts man was another who kept scoring on a regular basis right across the campaign, and has improved his all-round play, while the Dons frontman has been a joy to watch. It took him a bit longer than Bojan Miovski to settle in, but when he did, he illuminated the side, and quickly thereafter became a firm fans’ favourite. Retaining the striker will be key to Aberdeen’s potential success next season.

Aberdeen striker Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes scores an audacious goal against Dundee United. Image: SNS.

There were plenty other contenders, with a number who might have made it into my team had they been around longer. As well as those listed above, special mentions have to go to Alastair Johnston, Graeme Shinnie and Max Johnston, who caught the eye in 2023, and also some players who featured throughout the campaign, but fell just short of inclusion. The likes of Ylber Ramadani, Jota, Matt O’Riley, Josh Ginnelly, Kevin Nisbet, Daniel Armstrong and Mark O’Hara would all fit into that category.

Dundee United statement line on Jim Goodwin’s Aberdeen squad build was cringe-inducing

Last weekend brought confirmation of the demise of a once-proud club, when Dundee United were relegated for the second time in just seven years.

Prior to their fate being sealed, United announced Jim Goodwin would continue in the job on a two-year contract, and the continuity he offers probably makes sense.

In the statement releasing the news, the club were understandably keen to highlight Jim’s plus points, of which there are many, but I would think even the Irishman squirmed a little at the passage which read: “Furthermore, throughout his stint with Aberdeen, he oversaw the construction of a squad which finished third in the Premiership.”

Strictly speaking that is at least partly true, but it ignores the signings which failed, and also the fact that Barry Robson, a managerial novice, got far more out of the players than Jim did.

Former Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin during the 1-0 Scottish Cup loss at Darvel. Image: SNS