After having completed almost a complete cycle for all clubs, with the exception lying in the COVID related postponements, it’s safe to say we have a basic understanding of how each team is performing and what we might expect from them in the coming months. You can see a round-up of some of the underlying performance data in Owen’s Pure Fitbaw xG table.
We’re releasing our managerial Power Rankings as a way of quickly assessing how each manager in charge of our Premiership clubs has 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 October.
Steven Gerrard | Rangers
He’s back on top. Losing the top spot to Neil Lennon in our rankings in October was clearly the fuel required to keep the Ibrox juggernaut going. October featured as comfortable an Old Firm/Glasgow Derby/call it what you like game win as you will see. Steven Gerrard has a squad at his disposal that kept five out of six clean sheets in all competitions, and not only that, they prevented three separate opponents from even having a shot on target. They’ve played Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibs and Kilmarnock away and they’re now top of the table with a 9 point advantage. It’s hard not to be in awe of Rangers and Steven Gerrard right now.
Derek McInnes | Aberdeen
Aberdeen are unbeaten in the league since the 20th of September. Derek McInnes and his team bounced back from that shock defeat to Motherwell at home and have not only been unbeaten, but have put in some strong performances and gathered some momentum in their pursuit for 3rd. You can’t ignore the performance against Celtic in which the only thing it was lacking was fans in the stands of Pittodrie to enjoy it. Exciting football isn’t something I have attached to McInnes before. The current set up has Aberdeen playing some quick vertical progressions, attacking the space and putting everything on the line. The performances of Lewis Ferguson and Ryan Hedges have been vital in Aberdeen’s tactical turnaround, but it’s the man at the helm that deserves the credit.
Stephen Robinson | Motherwell
After a terrible start, Stephen Robinson has steadied the ship. Some good performances against Livingston and Ross County have cleared the early season rot. The resurgence of Tony Watt has been great to see. I was starting to feel that he was more accustomed to his Twitch account than his role as a real-life footballer. He’s put in back to back impressive performances and worked incredibly hard for his team, with some excellent outputs in his stats for defensive measures. Competing for more defensive duels than any other striker, 6.97 per 90, and averaging 3.45 interceptions per 90, Tony Watt has found a home and the belief that Stephen Robinson is instilling in him to lead the line is now bearing fruit. Two clean sheets in a row as well, and that’s without your number one, Trevor Carson. There is a lot to be said about the newfound belief at Fir Park.
Neil Lennon | Celtic
From top spot in our last rankings to four. The abject display against Rangers has taken it’s a toll on Lennon’s position in our Power Rankings. Failing to create a single attempt on target at Rangers is borderline criminal for a Celtic manager. Coupled with a performance that lacked any sort of desire or tactical plan to break down Rangers will have the 10IAR aspirations under threat. Follow this up with a fairly poor display against Aberdeen, where Celtic struggled to create and relied on moments of magic, it’s worrying. The biggest issue for me is not being able to address the defensive frailties. You can game plan against Celtic – space in behind full-backs, isolate Duffy. There you have your basic chance creation guide against The Hoops. There are some signs that things will get better with the performances against Lille and Aberdeen but there’s away games against Motherwell and Hibs to come. The pressure cooker does not turn off quickly in Glasgow’s Green and White.
Jack Ross | Hibernian
Hibs have been a bit of a rollercoaster watch early in the season with some Jekyll and Hyde performances. That being said they are maintaining the ability to pick up points and be better than the rest. When watching a Jack Ross team, you can see there are tactical deficiencies with exposed full-backs and a lack of penetration in the central area’s. Still, when you have the individual qualities of Boyle, Nisbet, Doidge and Porteous, there is always going to be ways to win or at least pick-up points. It’s worth noting that Hibs’ xG this season should raise some alarm bells, but there is plenty of time for Ross to work on this and improve Hibs throughout the season. They’ll hopefully put the Halloween horror of the cup semi-final to one side as they’ve got a match against former employee Neil Lennon which will be a difficult task in November.
Callum Davidson | St Johnstone
I like what Callum Davidson is doing with St Johnstone. They are still strong defensively, and now they are finding ways to create more opportunities against the opposition. I have been particularly impressed with the improvements down the right side for Saints with McNamara and Conway linking up well and creating better chances for Callum Hendry and Stevie May. Conway is averaging 0.26 xA per 90 versus the 0.12 O’Halloran gave from the right side and whilst they have different skillsets, Conway’s high level of execution in comparison is more beneficial. With Summer signing, Guy Melamed, still working his way into the frame, the games that maybe got away from Saints earlier in the year might have a different outcome. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davidson in his inaugural season finish in the top half of the table.
Alex Dyer | Kilmarnock
This felt a little tough to put Dyer out of the top six considering the performances of Kilmarnock and the COVID disruptions. Kilmarnock are what you expect from them, committed, organised and hard-working, all the traits that make it easy to get behind your team. Dyer’s ability to continually get performances out of veterans like Burke, Dicker, Power and Broadfoot is to be praised. The real praise should go to the system that’s in place for them to perform. The tough part will be keeping up those performance levels across the season. With depth lacking in key positions, it could be tricky. I think January will be key for Killie and Dyer. They could make moves that’ll enable him to rest and rotate those veteran performers a little more.
Micky Mellon | Dundee United
Another month down and I still can’t work out if Micky Mellon is a good manager or not. At times he seems very pragmatic and tactically astute. However, that pragmatism appears to have spilt over into the creative elements of Dundee United. There’s issues with chance creation and being able to get the best out of Lawrence Shankland. There is no better evidence than that of the 0-0 draw with St Johnstone, where there were only three attempts on goal, and none ended up on target. Mellon is not under any immediate pressure and this season might be a case of adjusting to being back in the Premiership, and if that is the case Mellon is doing okay, but I can’t say much more than that right now.
Gary Holt | Livingston
Livingston and Gary Holt might be frustrated how the month of October played out. After an excellent start with an away against Dundee United, it felt a bit like the wheels fell off afterwards. The performances of Robbie McCrorie have been questionable, we’ve seen Holt take him out of the firing line already which seems like the right move at the moment for the young keeper. Losing some key players over the last few years has undoubtedly been challenging for Livingston, and I do wonder whether if they’d had more of that core, would they have lost at home to Kilmarnock after taking an early lead? Especially against a team that has struggled to create from open play. November looks like a month for Livi to get back on track.
Stuart Kettlewell | Ross County
The wheels are well and truly off at Ross County. The early season over performance in xG seems to have caught up with Kettlewell and the Staggies. The structural issues in defence remain, and it’s a lot of the same issues in terms of chance creation at the other end of the park. “There was just a real degree of naivety in the second half. It’s a real frustration for me. When we go behind, there seems to be a real softness in us.” I can’t help but feel that Stuart Kettlewell needs to think about his role in that naivety and softness. I would like to see Ross County look for a bit of steel in the upcoming window and allow that to compliment the cultured play of Stephen Kelly and Iain Vigurs. Finally, the news of another test event is brilliant news, and I am glad that there may be some light at the end of this tunnel when it comes to the fans back in the stadiums.
Jim Goodwin | St Mirren
I have been really disappointed with St Mirren this season. I liked a lot of their signings in the summer and if it wasn’t for the performances of Jak Alnwick, who has the best goals saved above average this year with 5.52 goals saved, they’d be much worse off. St Mirren are becoming fairly predictable to play against, and you are seeing teams pinning them back which is making it harder for St Mirren to progress the ball forward for the attacking players. Jim Goodwin will have to show some tactical versatility to push The Buddies away from the potential relegation play off spot. There appears to be a pretty big gap in quality between Goodwin’s men and the clubs above them, and the COVID outbreaks and postponements are not going to help. The only positive I can think of is the recent addition of Jake Doyle-Hayes, who has more on the ball creativity and battling qualities, which have both been lacking in the middle recently.
Brian Rice | Hamilton
Lets caveat early, Brian Rice is a good guy and has dealt with a lot, but his struggles as a coach are very clear. Hamilton are not very good defensively and aren’t good going forward either. It all stems in the middle of the park for me. Hamilton struggle to hold their defensive shape and can be manipulated fairly easily. They struggle to progress the ball forward at times too. The defensive performance against St Johnstone was particularly worrying, conceding five at home against a team that hadn’t scored more than once in a game since the 15th of August. I don’t see how this turns around, and I struggle to see how Hamilton won’t be relegated. Watch this quote be in the dressing room and Hamilton activate their cockroach survival skills in March and stay up on the last day of the season just to prove me wrong.