The problem with the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year Award

The problem with the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year Award

By Niall Murray

The PFA Scotland Awards took place on Sunday. Although Celtic, Rangers and Hibs seemed to have forgotten they were on and made their own plans instead. Whereas Scott Brown and Kieran Tierney picking up the gongs for Player and Young Player of the Year was hardly a surprise, there was a slight upset in the Manager of the Year category.


Brendan Rodgers is on the cusp of historic back-to-back trebles but it wasn’t him that went home with the award. Similarly, it wasn’t Neil Lennon who is on the verge of steering newly-promoted Hibs to second. And shockingly enough it wasn’t this season’s darling of Scottish football Steve Clarke either. Instead, St Mirren’s Jack Ross was named as Manager of the Year.


Whilst Ross deserves immense credit for the job he has done at the Paisley club, it can be argued that the award was not contested on a wholly level playing field. Let me explain.


Unfinished business


It must be reiterated how much Ross merits the award. This article isn’t bashing him or his achievements or even saying that he didn’t deserve to win the award. This is a man who has taken a club from relegation fodder to a formidable force in the Championship. He’s not only got supporters excited about St Mirren but Scottish football as a whole. It seems like there’s a general air of anticipation surrounding the Paisley side’s return to the top flight. The fact of the matter is every manager on that list could justifiably have been named manager of the year.



The main issue lies in when the awards take place. St Mirren have had their open-top bus parade to show off their silverware meanwhile the Premiership clubs still have a lot to play for. In essence, how can a decision be made on who the best manager has been this season when we don’t know exactly what every manager has achieved?


Neil Lennon


At this stage, Hibs’ season will be deemed a success no matter where they finish in the Premiership. Whether that’s in second or in fourth, Lennon’s side have been a breath of fresh air and have shown they’re a side capable of beating literally anyone.


That said, were Hibs to finish fourth then it’s unlikely the Northern Irishman would deserve the accolade of manager of the year. Finishing fourth is undoubtedly a significant achievement for a newly-promoted club like Hibs, but it would unlikely land Lennon the gong.


Conversely, were the Easter Road side to finish runners-up then you’d have to say there’s a very strong case for their coach to be recognised as manager of the year. The point that should be emphasised is that when the winner of the Manager of the Year Award was announced we didn’t know whether Lennon had taken his team to fourth or second.



Simply put, if St Mirren were still in a title race by the time the awards rolled around would Ross have still been named manager of the year? Perhaps so, but the ceremony should at least be at a point where every manager has finished their season and achieved everything they can possibly achieve.


Brendan Rodgers & Steve Clarke


The same point can be made about Brendan Rodgers. Many may consider him unlucky not to have won and made it a Celtic clean sweep at the PFA Awards on Sunday. After all, this is a man whose side have already won the League Cup, secured the Premiership title by thrashing their rivals and are closing in on back-to-back trebles.


You’d have to argue that if these awards were at the end of the season and Rodgers had secured a historic second treble that he’d be favourite to win the manager of the year gong. Again, not to downplay any other manager’s achievements, but winning a domestic treble surely guarantees you the award, no?


Similarly, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to hear of Clarke’s achievements throughout this campaign. He’s taken a relegation-bound Kilmarnock side and turned them into one of the best teams in the Premiership. He’s getting the very best out of his players and his work has propelled the club up the league into fifth.



Clarke is the only other manager on this list that has achieved everything he’s going to achieve this season. Barring a meltdown of epic proportions Killie will finish in fifth. A phenomenal achievement, but one which was deemed not as impressive as Ross steering St Mirren to promotion.


Simply put, there’s no problem with those in charge deciding that the Paisley club’s manager’s achievements outweigh Clarke’s given that it’s a level playing field. However, it seems slightly unfair on Lennon and Rodgers given they have so much to play for before the end of the season.


Changes need to be made


There’s a simple solution; make the awards at the very end of the season. Yes, I know you’re screaming at your screens now: “But then every club will be away on holiday and won’t attend the awards.” Perhaps, but we already find ourselves in that position anyway. The Celtic players opted for a holiday in Tenerife over the awards whilst Rangers and Hibs held their own ceremonies on the same night.


Why not push it back until the season is completely over? At least try it for one season, make a change and if it’s a complete disaster feel free to come back in a year and tell me so in the comments section of this article.

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