The Scottish PFA’s “Manager of the Year” short list was announced today and the finalists are:
Derek Adams of Ross County? Nope. All he did was lead his club to the SPL and- read this twice if you have to- with not a single pundit or supporter thinking they’d do any better than 9th place, has them in fifth place and still with a chance of rising as high as third place and entry into the Europa league next season. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that he should win the award (he did last year though!), but I really think he needed to be one of the finalists for the award to have any merit. Let’s take a quick look at the other finalists.
Neil Lennon: Celtic won the league. My question is, how big of an achievement is that? Celitc had the biggest budget, the best players, and no second member of the Old Firm to provide competition for the title. It’s also worth pointing out that going into the last three matches of the year McCall’s Motherwell is even in head-to-head matches with Celtic, Butcher’s Inverness has lost overall in head-to-head matches, and non-nominated Derek Adam’s Ross County have a winning record against Celtic in 2012-2013 with one match to play. Celtic did make an unexpectedly good run in Europe and are in the Cup final. One more thing, when none of his players were nominated for the PFA’s other awards Lennon said he was boycotting the whole process- I wonder if he’ll accept this one if he wins it?
Terry Butcher: I’ve no argument with Butcher’s nomination. If things go well through the remaining matches he’ll have led the club to its highest ever SPL finish and into European football for the first time as well. He’s also done this with what could charitably be called “tepid” fan support. It’s also worth noting that he has never had anything but good to say about Highland Derby rivals Ross County, and that goes a long way in this writer’s book.
Stuart McCall: Again, no argument with McCall’s inclusion on this list. Motherwell have secured second place (equalling their highest finish since 1994-1995), they’ve improved their league position for three years running (6, 3, 2) they’ve qualified for the Champions League for only the second time in club history (the other was under McCall’s leadership as well), and they are better positioned to become legitimate challengers to Celtic for the title than any other club in the SPL.
Allan Johnston: What’s not to like here? He’s the player manager of Queen of the South and in his first year his club won the Challenge Cup and promotion form the Second Division to the First Division. How dominant were they? With one match remaining they are 25 points ahead of second place Alloa Athletic and have a +68 goal differential. Since Johnston took over last May the club’s record in all competitions is 36-5-4, that’s as win percentage of 80. I know the PFA won’t pick a non-SPL manager for the second year in a row, but Johnston would be my choice.
There’s a part of me that has to wonder if Ross County’s decision to go against the recent restructuring proposal had anything to do with the exclusion of Derek Adams from the short list? No, it couldn’t be that, things like that never happen in Scottish football.