Within minutes of the final whistle blowing at Hampden yesterday to signal the end of St. Johnstone’s most successful season in their history, social media was awash with complaints that Perth boss Callum Davidson was the ‘real’ Manager of the Year rather than Steven Gerrard – but the complaints from the likes of arch Rangers critic Michael Stewart are, at best, disingenuous as they handily miss out several key facts.
While nobody would think to suggest that what Davidson has achieved at St. Johnstone this season is anything less than phenomenal, none of those who think Davidson should have won ‘Manager of the Year’ can put their finger on which of the three awards he was “robbed” of.
After Rangers romped to the Scottish Premiership title, setting a new world record for domestic league wins, a European record for most clean sheets in a single season, a British record for fewest goals conceded and various Scottish and club records, Gerrard picked up the Scottish Football Writers Association, PFA Scotland and SPFL Manager of the Year gongs, Gerrard was the clear winner of all three awards.
Of those three, Davidson can immediately be written off as a potential candidate for one – the SPFL Premiership award – finishing fifth and losing as many games to Rangers in the league as the Light Blues did in all competitions this season (3).
So that only leaves the PFA Scotland award, voted for by his fellow managers, or the Scottish Football Writers’ Association trophy (voted for, unsurprisingly, by Scotland’s football writers).
Without wanting to speak on behalf of the managers who voted for Gerrard as their pick for Manager of the Year, it would be a fairly safe assumption to make that managers would be fairly well qualified to pick who has done the best job this season.
It may only be a hunch, but there are few people better positioned to decide who has done the best job amongst their peers this season and – even with St. Johnstone having already qualified for the final – they overwhelmingly backed Gerrard.
Which then leaves the SFWA trophy.
Are Scotland’s football writers so fickle that we’ve to believe that 90 minutes of football would be enough to take Davidson ahead of Gerrard and pip him to their Manager of the Year gong?
Surprisingly, when asked which award Davidson should have won, the silence from those insisting he won it is deafening and it would be interesting to see who Stewart, Jane Lewis of the BBC and the others voted for in the SFWA awards (Clue: It was probably Gerrard).
Again, Davidson has done a fantastic job and has rightfully earned his place as St Johnstone’s best-ever manager but it is also fair to say that becoming the first Rangers manager to go unbeaten in the top-flight since 1899, Gerrard has punched well above his weight this season too.
The other complaint doing the rounds is that the awards are handed out too early and should wait until the season is completed.
Now, there is some merit in this but those making the complaint know fine well why the awards are done before the end of the campaign – yet none of them seem willing to acknowledge it.
So just to make it clear: The awards are held before the end of the season as they are usually accompanied by a fancy event which sees the winners receive their trophies and give some interviews.
With players and coaches typically heading off on holiday within a day or two of their final game of the season, waiting until all the fixtures are played before voting and handing out the awards would turn their fancy awards night into a bunch of fitba’ hacks sitting around in a darkened room arguing amongst themselves.
There’d be no photo ops of them in their rented suits alongside the managers and players they voted to win the award – and there wouldn’t be the interviews that pad out their paper or website in the final days and week of the season.
It’s been that way for decades and will almost certainly continue to be that way too – it’s just a shame that those complaining about the awards being handed out ‘too early’ have refused to acknowledge that they are the ones who benefit from the thing they complain about.
Ultimately, 99 seasons out of 100 Davidson would have won at least one of the three awards but this happened to be that one year where his achievements came at the same time as Rangers returned to their best and ripped up the history books themselves.