With tomorrow being Halloween, it seems only right to reflect the scary developments that continue to rock the Scottish Football League as the Raith Rovers project increases its momentum.
41-year-old English manager Robí di Lathamé had just seen another season of huge over-achievement. Not only did the club with the lowest budget in the Scottish Premiership qualify for Europe for a second consecutive season, they also reached the Final of the Europa Conference League!
We’ll take a look back on another fine season on the Scottish coast and reflect on the key players, award winners, and how Raith’s performers compare to the rest of the league.
Raith top performers
For the third time in four seasons, loanee striker Ryan Cassidy was Raith’s top goalscorer. He scored 17 goals in 48 games, which is down on his tally of 24 in 49 last season. He’s been a great player for us in his four loan spells but whether we can get him back again remains to be seen.
Midfielder and captain Dylan Tait was our second top scorer with eight goals in 49 appearances. He was quiet in the first half of the season but absolutely phenomenal after the winter break. And his value has rocketed to £9.25 million!
Centre-back Willie Binnie was our joint-third top scorer, level with backup striker Marc Roscoe on seven, followed by loanee midfielder Callum Wigley and Marc Parkinson on five. Parkinson’s goal return of five in 43 is nothing short of appalling and, now 22, I think he may need to move on. We had 17 different players score throughout the season, which is a lot for a time like us!
Another key performer has been Man United loanee Godwin Uzeh, who’s a natural midfielder but played most of the season at right-back. He led our creativity charts with 10 assists plus three goals in 50 appearances.
Parkinson laid on seven goals – which doesn’t change my assessment much – followed by Tait and Cassidy with six. While midfielder Glen Cranston has improved massively at the end of the season and ended up with four assists and three goals.
But a key signing this season was defender Stewart Fleming, who arrived from Celtic for £150,000 in January. He duly went on to have our highest average rating of 7.24 in 20 appearances, which saw his value soar to £1.5 million.
Five more regular starters averaged over 7.00 in Tait (7.17), Uzeh (7.11), Binnie (7.10), Cassidy (7.09) and Cranston (7.04).
Cassidy was named the fans’ player of the season with 38% of the vote, followed by Tait (27%) and Uzeh (22%). Midfielder Stephen Crawford won the Premiership goal of the season for his superb volley against Aberdeen.
Premiership team stats
Our fairly pitiful goal tally of 49 – 12 fewer than last season – was the fifth highest in the Premiership, way off the 89 scored by champions Celtic. And we had the fifth best defence with 46 goals conceded, which was three less than last year.
We had the second lowest possession in the league with just 44%, only better than third-place Aberdeen’s 41%. Sixth-place Dundee United led the way with 60% then Celtic and Rangers on 56% and 55%. While only relegated Livingston had a worse pass completion ratio than our 75% and had less shots on target than our 180, and only the bottom three created less than our 70 chances.
We did, however, have the second best conversion rate of 13%, the best headers won ratio of 64% and best cross completion ratio of 25%. So all of that combined tells me that if we can improve the quality of our passing in order to create more chances then the foundations are in place to finish them off.
We also won the fourth most penalties, but our six well behind the ridiculous 16 won by Celtic and 13 given to Rangers. We did score all six though!
Premiership player stats
Cassidy finished as the sixth top scorer in the league with 11 goals in 30 appearances. Two Celtic players were top in Karamoko Dembele and Ahmed Kutucu with 19 and 17 then Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos on 13. However, Roscoe had the seventh best goals per minutes ratio in the league of 197.67, which surprised me (but also isn’t that great a ratio!).
Uzeh claimed the best cross completion in the league with an impressive 34% with Wigley third on 32%. While Cassidy was offside seven times more than any other player on 45.
Left-back Joshua Willis made the fourth most tackles per match (5.5) and the fourth most mistakes (84) in the league – but the latter is probably because he gets exposed a lot. And big Binnie won the third most key headers in the league (96) – a category won by our former loanee Bob Fraser at Motherwell – the fourth most interceptions (155) and third most shots blocked (17).
Loan goalkeeper Andrew Richards kept the third most clean sheets with an impressive 13 in 26 games, and set a new club record of 23 in all competitions. But he was dodgy in some matches and will cost way too much to bring back for another season from Chelsea.
A look around Europe
A huge upset occurred in Italy, where Atalanta won their maiden Serie A title ahead of Napoli, with Juventus down in fifth! While in England, Chelsea ended Man City’s seven-year domination of the Premier League and Liverpool finished down in sixth.
Barcelona defended their La Liga title, Porto defended their title, Bayern won a 13th straight Bundesliga with Hertha BSC in second, and PSG won an eighth Ligue 1 in a row.
PSG also won a second Champions League in three years, beating holders Real Madrid 2-0 in the final. Roma won the Europa League, beating Man United on penalties after a 1-1 draw. And of course Torino beat us in the Europa Conference League final.
Join us next time as we build on this season’s success for a fourth campaign in the Scottish Premiership!