As we come out of our first international break of the 2020/21 season we can start to take time to digest the performances of every team in the opening six rounds of the Scottish Premiership. This season has already produced some excellent stories and performances but, as always in football, performances don’t always equal points gained. Pure Fitbaw are releasing our managerial power rankings as way of quickly assessing how each manager in charge at our Premiership clubs have actually done so far. This is a method that might be more established within that other football (NFL) but is a way to try to rank teams based on more than just points gained.
This article is a subjective view, and we want to know what your rankings would be from 1-12 after you read this post! Here’s our ranking.
And here’s why. Let’s start with our strongest performance so far.
Steven Gerrard / Rangers
In a season where everything is on the line for Rangers there needed to be a strong start for Steven Gerrard. Six clean sheets (which now equals a 114-year-old record), five wins and one draw has brought his team to the top of the table and it is hard to argue why Rangers should not match their table ranking with our number one spot. With several additions to the squad as well as managing the continued Alfredo Morelos speculation, which could have easily disrupted or added to the pressure of the most critical season in the history of Glasgow Rangers, top marks go to Steven Gerrard.
Jack Ross / Hibs
There has undoubtedly been some question marks over the Hibs performances and you only have to look at the underlying xG in each game to see that Edinburgh’s green and white side are riding a bit of luck right now. With that being said you can look at this two ways; Hibs are struggling to play well but have still picked up good results generally so they could potentially get better if this is to be considered a blip in performances. With the addition of Jamie Murphy, I like the chances of Hibs and Ross regaining momentum even after their loss to Aberdeen.
I can feel it already – he’s just following the league table! Well, here is our first change in order;
Stuart Kettlewell / Ross County
The defined structure and move away from co-managers at County and positive moves in the transfer market are likely to be why Ross County have had a positive start to the season. There are still some on-pitch structural issues out of possession but I believe that there is time for County to work on this over the international break. One thing to keep an eye on is the interest in Ross Stewart. If he goes, you could see Kettlewell and County slide down the rankings.
Peter Mackay recently touched on the Staggies’ good start to the season and what’s gone into it.
Neil Lennon / Celtic
While there are some questions after recent European performances, outbursts in the press about player commitment and struggles in some domestic matches you have to believe that the quality in the team will come through and the juggernaut that has seen Celtic charge towards the record books will start to pick up steam again. Neil Lennon has his flaws as a manager and the tactical and personnel issues are his responsibility but the level of disruption that he has faced, predominantly caused by ‘Boli’s Holi’, could ultimately create an environment ‘of us against the world’ and whether it’s by design or not this is likely to suit Neil Lennon and his coaching staff.
Callum Davidson / St Johnstone
In his first role as a manager Davidson has shown some early promise. Picking up a settled team and not disrupting too much of the formula that was there under Saints legend Tommy Wright allows Davidson to continue his progression as a manager. If you look at the defeats to Hibs and Aberdeen, the underlying numbers would suggest that Davidson and his team were worthy of getting something from these games. St Johnstone have a pretty good track record, and when it comes to appointments there is often a feeling of it has to be a ‘home run’ but to stick with the baseball analogy hitting doubles all day will do, and this is what Davidson appears to be.
Derek McInnes / Aberdeen
The infamous Aberdeen 8 incident and the disruptions/frustrations that must have caused Derek McInnes going into a season where he was already lost star striker Sam Cosgrove would have been enough to derail most teams in the Scottish Premiership. With seven years of experience at Pittodrie and a solid core of professionals, Aberdeen have managed to continue to grind their way to pull together a string of results. I have often criticised the transfer strategy under McInnes and whilst there are still deficiencies the move to take Ross McCrorie from Rangers seems like one that will have long term benefits.
Micky Mellon / Dundee United
Paisley born Mellon has been a mixed bag since joining from Tranmere. There have been some positive aspects with good results away to Motherwell & Ross County and the resolute defensive display against Celtic all of which have been done without star player Lawrence Shankland. The trust and minutes given to younger players like Chalmers and Neilson are also positive to come from Tannadice this season. A four-nil thrashing to Kilmarnock and losing some of their tactical fluidity in the set up does, however, leave some question marks but if Mellon leans on the team around him, United can get this right.
Jim Goodwin / St Mirren
You know exactly what you are going to get with Jim Goodwin, Hardworking, disciplined, committed and all the other adjectives used to describe a team that is difficult to break down. The pick up of former Rangers and Newcastle goalkeeper Jak Alnwick has been inspired and whilst Vaclav Hladky was a fan favourite – Alnwick seems to have just picked up his mantle. Whilst St Mirren will have their ceiling for what they can achieve without addressing the lack of creativity in the team, Goodwin might find himself in a position where just being hard to beat is not enough.
Alex Dyer / Kilmarnock
I want Alex Dyer to do well. The lack of diversity in our country when it comes to football managers has me rooting for him to show that there can be a pathway for managers that are from an ethnic minority background or a foreign country. The xenophobia that surrounded his predecessor’s reign has left a bitter taste and now Dyer has a chance to change some perceptions of Scottish football. Kilmarnock have had a mixed start in terms of results but the display against Celtic, which was reminiscent of a Steve Clarke performance against the ‘Old Firm’, and the 4-0 whitewash of Dundee United leaves me thinking that if Kilmarnock can find some consistency then they can make a push for the top six. My reservations about Dyer sit with the transfer strategy. Kilmarnock has several key players at the wrong end of their career and this has been the case for a few years now. Eventually this will catch up with them and there does not appear to be much of a succession plan.
Gary Holt / Livingston
Signing Anthony Stokes should be reason enough for placing Livingston this far down the rankings. It was always going to be hard to replace Scotland international Lyndon Dykes but this move has left me with some reservations. On the pitch, Livi (Max Stryjek) pulled off an excellent defensive display against Rangers to pick up a point and I think throughout the season Holt will gradually climb up our rankings but, for now, the sloppy start has Livingston languishing at the bottom.
Brian Rice / Hamilton
His story of fighting an addiction which consumes so many people, especially when you consider the close ties football and betting have, endears me to the character of Brian Rice. The trust that Hamilton and Rice place in their youth team is also an admirable trait and continues to be embedded in the DNA at New Douglas Park. Here is the ‘ah but’ moment; Rice and Hamilton at times lack a solid structure or style of play and along with some questionable bits of recruitment that makes it hard to see anywhere other than near the bottom of our rankings for him.
Could they make any changes? SPFLAnalysis recently investigated for us.
Stephen Robinson / Motherwell
It’s hard to put any positive spin on this Motherwell’s start to the season which has been nothing less than a disaster. A loss to Hamilton in the North Lanarkshire derby and the general lack of creativity from what is a talented squad has to led to some basic questions about what is going wrong. The long term strategy at Motherwell under Robinson and Chief Exec Alan Burrows has never been in doubt but, perhaps not helped on the pitch by the record sale of David Turnbull, there will continue to be questions over the short term performances of Motherwell and a problematic fixture list in September does not appear to offer any respite.
That concludes our first month of Pure Fitbaw power rankings, we want to hear your 1-12 so make sure you get in touch with us over on Twitter @PureFitbaw