The newly installed Hibs manager coached McGeady during his time in charge of Sunderland, where McGeady spent the past five years before his release this summer as the Black Cats ended four years in the League One wilderness with a play-off final victory over Wycombe Wanderers, a match where he was an unused substitute.
At most other points in McGeady’s career he’d have been looked upon as a massive coup for the Hibees. He burst onto the scene with Celtic in 2004, scoring on his debut at Tynecastle and immediately making himself a first-team regular. After six years and over 250 appearances in Glasgow’s East End he moved to Russia with Spartak Moscow before switching to Everton and ultimately arriving at Sunderland via a couple of loan moves.
However, at age 36 there is understandably a little concern as to whether McGeady still has any magic left in his boots. Can he wow the Hibs faithful next season or will he be another in a long line of former EPL players who come up to Scotland and struggle to adapt with their ageing legs?
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Firstly, his already lengthy experience of Scottish football will stand him in good stead. It may have been 12 years since he last played here, but unlike some of his big-name predecessors he won’t take the league for granted.
Secondly, take away the name and the age and you’re left with the bare facts of what McGeady accomplished in England’s League One last term, a league where Scottish teams typically go shopping for new talents. And the advanced statistics paint a picture of a player who still has plenty to offer for at least another season.
The stats which indicate good attacking play are impressive. He averaged 0.24 goals per game, had an Expected Assists average of 0.34 and swung in 4.28 crosses. Replicating all of those in next season’s cinch Premiership would see him comfortably rank in the top 10 among his fellow wingers. In fact, his Expected Assists average would have him No.1 overall, ahead of the likes of Jota, Ryan Kent and Barrie McKay.
There was a noticeable drop in the number of times he attempted to beat his covering defender. He averaged 5.25 per game, which is middle of the pack and a significant reduction on his 8.77 career average. It speaks to a player in the twilight of his career who has had to alter his game. The good news is that his success rate in these one-on-one duels was 67.69 per cent. The even better news is that only one player in Scotland’s top flight posted a higher success rate last season – his potential new team-mate Chris Cadden. Hibs should be an entertaining watch on both wings next term.
The only number which really gives pause for thought is the six months he spent out of action due to injury. Lengthy late-career absences can be a death sentence for a footballer’s career, but if avoids any lasting effects then fully expect him to prove as popular with the Hibs faithful as he was in England’s North East.