"Nominated Trio Deserving of Manager of the Year, with Clement and Rodgers Overlooked"


PICKING a shortlist for manager of the year at the end of April is a risky business.

Traditionally, PFA Scotland go early with their selections. Earlier, certainly, than the football writers.

On Sunday night, the great and the good of Scottish football convene at a Glasgow hotel for the annual dinner to honour those voted as the best of the best by the players and the Managers and Coaches Association.

It’s conceivable that Philippe Clement could still end of his first season with Rangers as a Treble-winning boss.

Clement and Rodgers have been excluded from the manager of the year shortlist

Clement and Rodgers have been excluded from the manager of the year shortlist

Rodgers' Celtic team are favourite to win the Scottish Premiership title

Rodgers’ Celtic team are favourite to win the Scottish Premiership title

Clement has won the League Cup and is still in the running for the title and Scottish Cup

Clement has won the League Cup and is still in the running for the title and Scottish Cup

  When Brendan Rodgers faced sceptical supporters on his return to Celtic, he replied with a ‘see you in May’. And he could easily add another league and cup double to the trophies racked up during his first spell.

It’s rare for a shortlist to feature no Celtic or Rangers boss. In each of the last three seasons, Steven Gerrard or Ange Postecoglou have been recognised after securing the Premiership crown comfortably. That won’t be the case this year. As things stand, Rangers women’s coach Jo Potter is the only representative of either Glasgow club on the shortlist.

A proper Premiership complicates things, of course. Plumping for Clement over Rodgers or Rodgers over Clement right now is like tip-toeing through a field of landmines.

Yet, to suggest that’s the only reason Derek McInnes of Kilmarnock, Dundee’s Tony Docherty and Falkirk’s John McGlynn make up a three man shortlist would do all three a disservice. Far from being named by default, they’re there because they deserve to be.

McInnes has steered Killie back to the top flight and delivered sustained, consistent improvement on a budget. His side have humbled both Celtic and Rangers and punched above their financial weight, embarrassing Aberdeen and Hibs, by securing fourth.

A previous winner with Aberdeen in 2013-14, McInnes could be the first Killie boss to win since Steve Clarke in 2019. And everyone knows where that led.

His friend and former assistant Tony Docherty struck out on his own last summer and has led newly-promoted Dundee to a top-six finish. The achievement has been such that the midfield duo of Luke McCowan and Lyall Cameron have excelled on a Dens Park pitch better suited to synchronised swimming.

 

Derek McInnes has helped Killie to European qualification in only their second season back  in the top-flight

Derek McInnes has helped Killie to European qualification in only their second season back  in the top-flight

Tony Docherty has led Dundee to a top-six finish in their first season since promotion

Tony Docherty has led Dundee to a top-six finish in their first season since promotion

John McGlynn's Falkirk have not a lost a League One game this season

John McGlynn’s Falkirk have not a lost a League One game this season

One of the game’s unassuming good guys, Falkirk’s John McGlynn won the award as manager of Raith Rovers in 2010-11. The great survivor of the lower league ranks is one game away from completing an unbeaten season with Falkirk in League One, winning the title by a country mile in the process.

If there’s an issue with the shortlist, it’s the fact that it overlooks the excellent work done by Stephen Robinson at St Mirren. Rhys McCabe of Airdrie and Stenhousemuir’s Gary Naysmith.

Amongst fans of Falkirk, Kilmarnock and Dundee, however, you’ll hear no complaints from supporters over the performance of their managers. That’s not the case with supporters of Celtic or Rangers.

The season has been a tough watch for both sets of fans. Cursed by poor player recruitment, lacking the creativity and flair to break down a low block, consistency and excellence has been elusive.

Criticism of the Celtic playing style under Rodgers overlooks the fact that injuries and personnel have been a far bigger problem.

The title looked to be in the bag when he won at Ibrox and saw Michael Beale off the premises in September.

Dropping points to St Johnstone, Hibernian, Motherwell, Hearts and Kilmarnock, Rangers found a new lease of life under Clement. Right up until the point when they started dropping points of their own.

After winning the Viaplay Cup, hopes of a run to the Europa League final were stopped by Benfica. During a run of two wins in eight games they lost to Ross County and drew with Dundee – allowing Celtic to return to the summit.

While Rangers and Celtic have been cursed by injuries to key players all season, no one would say these are vintage teams. Not even at their strongest. And a manager of the year is only ever as good as the players at his disposal.



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