Young English manager Robí di Lathamé was working wonders at Raith Rovers, having led the Kirkcaldy side to a second promotion in three years by lifting the Scottish Championship trophy.
His young side had performed well beyond expectations and the club’s board were absolutely delighted with performances, giving their manager an A+ rating. Here we break down the key players that delivered this unexpected success and look at some of the stats from the Scottish Championship in 2021/22.
Key Raith players
We had a wide range of key contributors this season, but the pick of the bunch were loanees Ryan Cassidy from Watford and Stephen Kelly from Rangers. I don’t think Cassidy will come back next season but I’m doing all I can to extend Kelly’s loan from our parent club.
Cassidy broke the club’s goalscoring record with a total of 28 goals in all competitions, including another club record of 5 in one match against Alloa. Kelly broke the club record for most player of the match awards with 8 and tied the record for assists with 13.
Darren Shaw wasn’t too far behind Cassidy with 21 goals in all competitions, but he really tailed off towards the end of the season. Left winger Nathan Tormey, on loan from Arsenal, chipped in with an impressive 14 goals and midfielder Jack Turner, on loan from Southampton, scored 13. Right-winger Jordan Elliot impressed again with 8 goals and evergreen centre-back Gonzalo Jara scored 7.
Tormey also got 12 assists and midfielder Dylan Tait got 11 but played second fiddle to Kelly for the second half of the season. Shaw, Elliot and Jara all got 8 assists, Cassidy got 7 and Turner got 6.
Kelly was by far and away the best performer with an average rating of 7.50 from 35 appearances, followed by Tait on 7.34 from 32 and Cassidy on 7.30 from 44.
Kelly took home the fans’ player of the season award with a huge 60% of the vote followed by Cassidy (17%) and Tormey (14%). He also won young player of the season, Cassidy won goal of the season and young right-back Keith Barton, who got a few starts at the end of the season, was considered best signing.
Cassidy was named as Scottish Championship Player of the Year for his 23 goals and 5 assists in 34 matches. And 7 of our players were named in the league’s team of the year.
Championship team stats
We finished the season as the highest scorers in the Championship with 83 league goals, which was a huge 26 more than the next highest scorers Ayr United. We also scored the most goals from corners (10), second-most direct free-kicks (3) and second-most indirect free-kicks (6).
Unsurprisingly, we created substantially more chances than any other side with 132, compared to second-most Hamilton’s 88. We also had far more shots on target (308) than anyone else and had the highest shot conversion rate of 13%.
We were also the best footballing team with the highest average possession of 55%. In line with that, we also won the least headers with 1179 – which was more than 200 less than the 9th least record of Dunfermline and nearly 500 less than Falkirk’s 1653 – and had the lowest headers won ratio of 51%.
Our defence was the second best in the league, with Greenock’s 34 goals conceded only bettering our 40. We only conceded twice from corners, didn’t concede any goals from direct free-kicks and only 3 from indirect free-kicks. However, we did concede 6 penalties, which was the second-most in the league.
Surprisingly, we also accumulated the most yellow cards in the league with 84 and committed the most fouls with 541, but didn’t get a single red card. So I have no idea what that tells you!
Our league dominance was achieved by not spending a penny on players and with the 9th lowest annual salary spend of £697k – compared to the £1.1 million spent by 7th-placed Partick and 5th-placed Falkirk. Alloa managed to stay up with an annual salary of just £238k, which is seriously impressive.
Championship player stats
This is where it gets fun! Cassidy was the league’s top scorer with 23 goals followed by Shaw’s 19. Those two between them scored more than both Inverness (34) and Dunfermline (40) managed in total. The next highest challenger was Tony Watt with 15. Cassidy also had the most shots (137) and shots on target (83), while Tormey had the best shot conversion rate of 20%.
We had 7 players in the top 10 average ratings in the Championship, including the top 4 of Kelly, Cassidy, Shaw and Jara. Kelly’s 7.58 set a new Championship record.
Kelly and Tormey had the second-most assists with 9 each, only behind Greenock’s Aidan Nesbitt on 11. But Kelly led the way in key passes with 83 from just 25 appearances.
Surprisingly, right-back Jamie Watson had the most key tackles in the league with 22 – which was 8 more than anyone else – while Jara was third with 13. Jara also had the highest cross completion ratio in the league of 39%. Ross Munro kept the joint-most clean sheets in the league with 11.
A look around Europe
Starting in Scotland, Celtic wrapped up a 10th successive Scottish title, finishing on 81 points and just 5 clear of Rangers. They also won the Scottish Cup on penalties over Rangers, but Rangers won the League Cup on penalties against Celtic.
Most of the other European leagues were painfully predictable. Real Madrid ended Barcelona’s streak of 4 successive La Liga, winning the title on 98 points 2 clear of Barca. Man City won a 5th successive Premier League, PSG won a 4th successive Ligue 1 title, and Porto won a 3rd successive title.
Join us next time to discover how we go about trying to build a team capable of attempting to stay in the Scottish Premiership!