Matchday 16 in the Scottish Premiership featured some hard-fought wins across the league. Kilmarnock…
We’re now in March and in the Scottish Premiership every match counts. At the top end, Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibernian are all competing to be best of the rest whilst still keeping up the pressure on Celtic. Around the middle Kilmarnock, Hearts, Motherwell and St Johnstone are battling it out for a place in the top six. And at the bottom end of the table Ross County, Partick Thistle and Hamilton are all fighting for their lives.
With things heating up in the Premiership, we thought we’d take a look back at February and see which manager had the best form last month. Using our manager power rankings, we can see which coach accrued the most points during February and thus crown them our Manager of the Month. The graph below shows how each manager got on at their respective clubs last month.
Taking third spot for February is St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright. The 54-year-old recorded his first home win since September when the Saints hosted Ross County last month, as well as gaining an impressive point (and a clean sheet to boot) when his side visited Parkhead. Saints fans can be fairly happy with their month – with just a few games left until the split, Wright has kept his side in contention to reach the top half.
Wright gained points for the draw against Celtic and the win over County, but wasn’t penalised for his team’s three defeats. Saints were expected to lose against Aberdeen, Rangers and Motherwell so the Northern Irishman avoided being penalised.
Next up, St Johnstone have another busy month with five league games scheduled. Fixtures against Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Hibs await – good results here could prove season-defining for the McDiarmid Park outfit.
Our runner-up this month is Ross County manager Owen Coyle after the Staggies boss got some much-needed Premiership points on the board. County thumped Dundee 4-1 at Dens Park and held Craig Levein’s Hearts to a draw in a productive month for Coyle’s side. Having started the month with the serious possibility of being cut adrift at the foot of the table, Coyle has kept his team in the fight for survival and is now just one win away from moving out of the automatic relegation spot.
The former Burnley manager gained five points in our power rankings overall in February; three for the win over Dundee and two for their home draw against Hearts. The Highland side were beaten by St Johnstone in their last league fixture but were expected to lose, so Coyle wasn’t docked any points.
Looking forward, County host both Thistle and Accies next month – these are matches that Coyle simply cannot afford to lose. He’s given Ross County a fighting chance with his work in February but March will need to be a successful month for the Staggies. Away fixtures against Kilmarnock and Celtic look to be very difficult matches for Coyle to navigate in March.
Even by his standards, February was quite a month for Steve Clarke. Kilmarnock began the month by beating Celtic, before reaching the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. Dundee and Motherwell were both swatted aside by Killie before draws with Hibernian and Hearts. The 2-2 draw with Hibs was particularly exciting – Jordan Jones’ goal is sure to live long in the memory of the Rugby Park faithful.
Clarke gained 11 points in our power rankings for his side’s results in February – the single largest gain over one month of any manager this season. Clarke finished February in the top six of the league and it would take something special now to deny Killie a place there after the split.
Kilmarnock now have a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Aberdeen to look forward to, as well as a trip to Ibrox in the league. One thing’s for certain – with Clarke at the helm, Killie have a chance to pick up points anywhere they go at the moment. After an excellent February, Steve Clarke is far and away our Manager of the Month.