We spent years mostly being critical of James Tavernier. Like most of you, we were wary of his defending, disappointed that he was no leader for a captain, and struggled with his immunity for being dropped.
And yet here we are, years down the line eating a tonne of humble pie as Tavernier transcends from a divisive right back and questionable captain into the best player in the SPL and one of the best RBs in the UK, and Europe.
It was only fair, with his stunning performances this season, that we give him enthusiastic credit, and join in the thousands of fans who have waxed lyrical over him this season.
Tavernier has defied everyone. Only one man truly believed in him, and that was his manager.
The rest lost patience with him a long time ago and start giving abuse to Stevie for always picking him.
Today, Tavernier sits with a record so incredible every player in every other outfield position in Europe is envious.
He ranks 1st in the SPL for goals. 11.
He ranks 1st in the SPL for assists. 8
He ranks 1st for crosses into the box. 186.
He ranks 1st for open play crosses. 96.
These are the kinds of assists all strikers, wingers, attacking midfielders, wing backs, and general forwards would kill for, and that’s just for any one individual stat of these. Only Bayern’s Lewandowski has more goals, 15 (aside Toney 16 and Armstrong 15 in the Championship) and only Harry Kane has more assists (10) in pretty much the whole of Europe. And none of them comes close in the other three stats. ‘Better’? Hmm, a matter of opinion.
For a right back, who has begun to defend extremely well too in this calendar year, to have these numbers isn’t just staggering it’s ridiculous.
Our captain, who now truly is leading by example, was backed all the way by his manager, in the face of fury from fans over the course of years – and yet now we all eat humble pie as Tav proves himself to be an extraordinary talent with consistency no one could ever have imagined.
And despite all this? As we said earlier, he can defend as well as anyone. If you take the Aberdeen result, for example, no one defended better than Tav, with his 7 tackles, clearances and interceptions.
We used to take Borna Barisic as an example Tavernier should aspire to. Well somehow he has surpassed him this season.
It’s incredible to say, Barisic, a world class left back, is definitely being overshadowed by the extraordinary Tavernier.
If this article sounds nauseatingly gushing and painfully hypocritical – it is, both.
But no one could have seen this change in fortune for Tavernier, so we forgive our two facedness.
No one, that is, apart from the only one who counts.