This article looks at the players who were selected most by Allan Johnston during season 2017/18 and puts together a "most selected" team line-up. Often, putting together such a team can have players placed out of position, if sticking strictly to players with most appearances regardless of their positions. So for the purpose of this article I have selected the most-selected players in their own positions. As it turned out, this was a relatively easy process, as 10 of the 11 most-selected players fit into the team in their own positions in any case.
In goals, despite missing the second half of the season through injury, Sean Murdoch made more appearances than his replacement Lee Robinson. The early season Cup games boosted Murdoch's appearance total over Robinson, with Murdoch making 27 appearances to Robinson's 21.
The player with most appearances in 2017/18 was Ryan Williamson, who also played every minute of every league game. He has made the right back position his own.
At left back, Jason Talbot played in 31 games. Lewis Martin, who finished the season strongly at left back, made 26 appearances, and not all at left back.
In central defence there were 3 main contenders for 2 positions, and as expected, Lee Ashcroft and Callum Morris make the cut ahead of Jean Yves M'Voto. Morris had 40 appearances, Ashcroft 43, while Big Jock played 21 times.
Using a 4-4-2 formation, the team's right winger is Kallum Higginbotham, with 43 appearances. Joe Cardle is on the left, having played 34 times. Central midfield, a problem area during the poor run of results in the middle of the season, sees 2 players who were eventually replaced make the team, selected more times than their eventual replacements: Big Nat (36 appearances) and Dean Shiels (25). Shiels is the only player in this team who was not in the actual top 11 most selected players. Lewis Martin was 11th in the appearances list with 26 games, with Fraser Aird joint 12th with Shiels, on 25 appearances. Martin, with 1 more appearance than Shiels, could not be fitted into this team based on having played less games than Jason Talbot, the other player who filled the left back slot, while left winger Aird had fewer appearances than fellow left sided attacker Joe Cardle.
The midfielders signed during the January transfer window did not come close to making enough appearances to qualify for this team - James Craigen made 18 appearances, James Vincent 12 and Tom Beadling 11.
Up front, it will come as no surprise that the regular pairing of Nicky Clark and Declan McManus made more appearances than their team mates Callum Smith and Andy Ryan, with Clark playing 41 times and McManus 44.
This team illustrates how continuity played such a big part in Allan Johnston's selections. The change of goalkeeper was an enforced one, although it worked out well given Robinson's excellent form. The only other significant changes that Johnston made were at left back, with Martin replacing Talbot - but only after most of the season had passed; left wing, with the previously under-used Fraser Aird taking Joe Cardle's place, again (like the left back switch) late in the season; and in centre midfield, where after months of persevering with Wedderburn and Shiels, the manager used the January window to sign 3 more mobile and agile players, which improved the team's performances and results.
Long stretches of the season saw the same core group of players selected, including a new set of midfielders in the second half of the season, which showed that although Johnston seems to prefer to show loyalty to players, he is not against making changes when the opportunity arises. Then, having done so, he then shows great loyalty to the next set of players, while also keeping faith in a select group that played throughout the whole season.
This team may not be the "best" Pars line up from the season just passed - the centre midfield would have to be changed for that to be the case - but it shows how many players made well over 30 appearances and how consistent the team selection was week to week. As stated above, 10 of the 11 players were actually in the 11 most-selected players, which made it relatively easy to piece together this line up.
2017/18 most-selected line-up: