As I sit down to write our second Managerial Power Rankings and review the performances of each manager in September, I can’t help but feel an element of déjà vu as Scotland prepares to face Israel in what now feels like a match more accustomed to test cricket as we face off for the 27th time in the last three weeks.
We’re releasing our managerial Power Rankings as a 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 for this month.
And here’s why.
Neil Lennon / Celtic
Whilst there are still some serious question marks over the performances under Neil Lennon, you can not deny five domestic wins on the bounce is an impressive reaction to the disappointment of losing out on the potential Champions League cashfall. Whilst the four wins in September were games you would expect Celtic to win, they were not without their challenges. Slow starts against St Mirren and Livingston could have caused issues but tapping into that winning mentality and digging deep has served Neil Lennon and his team well domestically. Impressive performances by new £5million pound hitman Alban Ajeti, who now has five goals in 6 games and looks to have settled in quickly, will be a real asset with difficult fixtures against Rangers and Aberdeen in October.
Steven Gerrard / Rangers
It was tough not to keep top of the league, top of the power rankings going. Rangers dropped points against Hibs at Easter Road, the sloppy performance defensively was uncharacteristic to what we have seen so far. There’s been a positive reaction to that performance, but it caused Rangers to lose ground to Celtic after potentially having an early advantage and applying pressure in what is the most important season for Steven Gerrard and the club. On a positive note Cedric Itten goals against Motherwell, and the imminent return of Kamar Roofe, might help Rangers set a marker with the first Old Firm match of the season fast approaching.
Derek McInnes / Aberdeen
It’s been a difficult season for Derek McInnes to navigate so far. He had the negatives of the “Aberdeen 8” and the recent sale of star defender, Scott McKenna but there’s been positives in the good win against Viking in Norway to progress in the Europa League and the good performance in another tough away match against Sporting in Lisbon in which they then fell out of the Europa League. It’s hard to ignore their ability to grind out results and keep the wheels turning. With their more open 3-4-3 formation (which I might add in general, I hate) we are starting to see more from players like Scott Wright, Ryan Hedges and Marley Watkins. With those three interchanging and the young spine of Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie behind them, it feels like if Aberdeen release some funds to address the issues at the back, then a push for 3rd place and going far in the cup competitions might be on the cards again for the Dons.
Jack Ross / Hibernian
After the hot start to the season for Jack Ross and Hibernian, there are question marks over how good this team actually is? For me, with mixed performances against Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen, picking up just one point from those fixtures, recognising that they were difficult fixtures is why there was not a huge drop in Jack Ross’ ranking this month. You can see at times what he wants to do with this Hibs team, but the failure to address the exposure defensively of young Josh Doig is something you would hope is acknowledge. If you look at the two positional heat maps against Rangers and Celtic, you can see that the left side can be relatively isolated for a full-back so young and that’s a potential concern. Hibs and Ross will look to bounce back with what looks like a more manageable schedule in October, at least in the league.
Alex Dyer / Kilmarnock
Nine points out of 12 and a couple of clean sheets have seen Alex Dyer shoot up the Power Rankings as the most improvement compared to last month, from 9th to 5th. Watching the performance against St Mirren, in what you could call the McCatenaccio derby, they were tough defensively and the goal was straight out of Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock textbook. A turnover in midfield and a quick counter forward, with some of the elements from the Ayrshire fountain of youth (Alan Power and Chris Burke) combining, to then find Nicke Kabamba to slot home. Dyer has certainly had his critics early on, but I think we are starting to see some potential in what he is trying to do with Rory McKenzie’s goal against Dundee United and the Greg Kiltie chance in the game against St Mirren. There are now some patterns of play developing in Ayrshire.
Callum Davidson / St Johnstone
I get it. Three losses in a row, sitting 11th in the table but I am not ready to hit the panic button yet for St Johnstone. Davidson in his first actual job as a manager still has a lot to learn but if you look at the xG performances against Livingston, Ross County and Motherwell you can see that Saints have not had the rub of the green so far. If they continue to play the way they are playing, we should see Saints climb the table. What I would hope for is that before the transfer window closes that Steve Brown can release some funds to help Davidson find a striker to relieve some of the pressure on Callum Hendry and put away some of the chances that Saints are creating.
Stuart Kettlewell / Ross County
After a really impressive start, it felt like Ross County might have learned from some of their defensive issues from last season by having a clear structure in the dugout. The performances in September have left us a bit wanting and whilst they were tricky matches against Celtic and Aberdeen, I would have liked to have seen more defensively disciplined performances. I like several players like Ross Stewart, Harry Paton and Josh Reid, but there are still issues with the defensive performances. I fully expect The Staggies to be a bit of a yo-yo club this year and that’s why Kettlewell dropped from 3rd to 7th.
Micky Mellon / Dundee United
There is a lot to like about Dundee United as a club. They have a good infrastructure, several young talents and the recent addition of Jeando Fuchs from Alaves is another reason to be excited about the recruitment going on in the City of Discovery. Now the caveat, I am still not really sure on Micky Mellon stylistically and will have to continue to watch how Dundee United develop as the season continues. A major positive for me, however, is the development Logan Chalmers, who’s just been called up to the Scotland under 21 squad. He’s picking up some very interesting positions, occupying the spaces when Shankland is dropping into the deeper areas. Two home games at the start of October will give United the opportunity to build some momentum.
Gary Holt / Livingston
I wish Gary Holt had given the Pure Fitbaw team a call before they signed up “Tony Stokes”. It could have saved them a whole lot of hassle and probably money. Anyway, I feel a little bit bad with Holt and Livingston being at number 9, as they gave Celtic a pretty good game away from home, but I think the loss to Hamilton at home is hard to get over. Win that one and it could have propelled Holt and Livingston up the rankings. Similar to Ross County, I think that Livingston are likely to be a yo-yo club in terms of weekly performance but pushing for the top half of the table, like many others, will be considered a good season.
Stephen Robinson / Motherwell
It would not be hard to improve upon the performances we saw in August. The comprehensive win against Aberdeen, with that first-half demolition of the Dons, looked like it could have been a sign of things to come. Then reality hits with a toothless display against Rangers. Whilst it’s not embarrassing to get beat against either side of the Old Firm, it just felt like there was an opportunity to keep their momentum going with at least a positive performance. The sloppy goals and poor decision making ratified that Motherwell have not yet turned a corner. Finally, it’s been almost five weeks since David Turnbull left for a club record fee and they still have not used some of it to bolster the poor defence. Ricki Lamie, in particular, has had a horrendous start to his Motherwell career.
Jim Goodwin / St Mirren
It was a real toss up between Goodwin and Rice for 11th spot in this months Power Rankings. Five defeats on the bounce could very easily have had St Mirren at the bottom of this table. There aren’t a lot of positives here and on the most recent podcast Owen and I discussed how just buying strikers is not going to solve the issues for St Mirren. They could free Jonathan Obika’s xG ghost if they can find some funds to add in some creativity in the midfield. Jak Alnwick is the real bright spot for me and a player, like his predecessor Vaclav Hladky, that can help bring The Buddies out of this rut.
Brian Rice / Hamilton
With four points from nine, this is harsh on Hamilton. When I watch Accies I don’t feel a sense of what they are trying to do on or off the ball. I know there’s always a budget challenge, that shouldn’t stop you having an identity. Will this come back and haunt me – probably. Will Brian Rice and Accies just keep finding a way – probably. I think the real reason I have Hamilton bottom of this table is that I am struggling to get over the signing of Justin Johnson. It still baffles me now as I think about it. Look out for the big game in October against St Mirren where this extract can be found pinned on the Accies dressing room wall as motivation for another great escape.
That concludes month two of Pure Fitbaw’s Power Rankings. We want to hear your 1-12 so make sure you get in touch with us over on Twitter @PureFitbaw