Subterranean Homesick Blues

Last updated : 20 April 2010 By thebluenosebear

Hibernian manager Tony Mowbray was named Scottish Football Writers Association Manager of the Year for 2004-05, in being named Scotland's finest managerial performer for that season he joins a list of managers that includes Graeme Souness, Jim McLean and Wim Jansen.  He won't however have to worry about attending the ceremony after his performance this year or will he?<BR><BR>The year Mowbray won the award he did not win the league, if truth be told he barely clinched third place finishing 32pts behind Champions Rangers (who he did beat 3 times) and only 2 goals better than Aberdeen's Jimmy Calderwood, he didn't win a cup or in fact even make a final so how does that make you manager of the year?<BR><BR>Fast forward a year and new Celtc manager Gordon Strachan lifts the League and League Cup double, rumours are rife Rowan Alexander would be named FW Manager of the year for guiding the now extinct Gretna FC from the second division to within penalty kicks of lifting the Scottish cup.  The award in the end goes to Strachan. <BR><BR>His player Sean Maloney has the season of his life playing over 40 games (a remarkable achievement by his own standards and one he has never ever achieved both before and since), scoring over 15 goals and creating another 23 for his teammates, he scoops not only the PFA player of the year award from his peers but the PFA young players player, his nearest challenger to the award is a young striker who signs for Rangers from Kilmarnock.  Across both teams and all competitions he scores 39 goals (20 for Kilmarnock & 19 for the Rangers) the writers tell us goals are not enough to win the award, yet they present the same award to Welshman John Hartson just a year before for the exact same thing.<BR><BR>So the award from the writers quite clearly goes to - Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon.<BR><BR>Gordon disappears soon after to Sunderland for an initial £7m fee and while the dust settles on yet another SPL campaign rumours circulate that Jim Jefferies of Kilmarnock would be a worthy winner of this year's FW Manager award, a theory which is too much too take for the Celtc chief executive Peter Lawwell who attacks the writers and proclaims amazingly without contradiction that if Gordon Strachan does not win the manager of the year award this season it will be for reasons "other than football".<BR><BR>On this he may have had a point but not the one you think, Strachan enjoys a prickly relationship with the writers at best and is hated by the fans, but it's not the Rangers fans with the taste for venom for the man they call Chesney, it's the celtc 'Fru and Fru' brigade who tell us he's not celtcminded enough, possibly this is reasons other than football?<BR><BR>With no real competition except again Boyd (just the 26 for him this year) Shunsuke Nakamura the celtc midfielder scoops both Players and Writers awards. Jeffrie's Kille finishes fifth and the Writers who have scuttled beneath their desks cowering at the wrath of Lawwell rightly award manager of the year to Strachan for winning the league and cup double.  At the same time the PFA announces they will also be having their own Manager of the Year Award which understandably goes to Strachan.<BR><BR>However, both could easily have been won by five times winner and ex-Scotland manager Mr Walter Smith (Andy Roxbourgh landed the award in 1990 whilst national team coach) after dragging Scotland up 70 places in the FIFA ranking returns to Rangers in the wake of ill-fated reign of Paul Le Guen.  <BR><BR>The Writers tell us Smith was the only man for the job, it's the only job he'd have left Scotland for but then spend weeks debating and having veiled digs at the man for the crime of walking out on his country (Ironically the same writers seven months later would demand Rangers are stripped points and fined for singing about a Veltic player who chose to do the same).<BR><BR>Walter more importantly does well taking more points than celtic from January to May and puts down a marker by beating celtc on their own patch with an Ugo Ehiogu overhead kick.  Next season is shaping up to be a contest for the first time in four years. <BR><BR>2007-2008 will go down in Scottish football folklore for many many reasons both good and bad.  Smiths Rangers take the advantage both in the league where they destroy celtc 3-0 at Ibrox and in Europe where he beats Lyon away, draws with a star filled Barcelona at home and come within an inch of a goal and 8 mins of making the last 16 of the competition.  The football isn't pretty next to we're told the cavalier style of celtc but it is effective.  The lynchpin of his team is a £2m Spanish centre half by the name of Carlos Cuellar who wins plaudits both home and abroad for his no nonsense defending and Smith for his eye for a defender. <BR><BR>Rangers fall into the UEFA Cup and due to cup domestic cup replays, continued cup success on all fronts, the temperamental Scottish weather and a request to postpone a fixture at the bequest of the SPL for the tragic death of Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell Rangers fixtures mount and mount.  <BR><BR>The league cup goes safely in the bag and the league down to the last games of the season before Rangers reach both the Uefa Cup and Scottish Cup finals.  Walter Smith is heralded by the British and European press. Managers argue the style of the team is clever football not defensive football, Sky do interviews galore, Gabby Logan features him on the BBC new flagship sports show 'Inside Sports' and admiration swells from managers across the globe for Rangers refusal to be beaten.  Carlos Cuellar does not go unnoticed and is being linked everywhere - what a defender, what a bargain for Rangers.<BR><BR>Rangers lose the UEFA Cup final (game 64 of their 68 game season and game 14 in staggering run of 18 games in 8 weeks after having a request for a longer extension than 4 days to prepare for the european final denied much to amazement of the English media who cannot believe Scotland won't do everything in their power to help one of their clubs in a European final. <BR><BR>Mr Lawwell Chief Executive of Rangers title rivals leads the shouts of 'no chance' by telling the SPL that an extension would not be in the interests of sporting integrity.  Rangers go on to lose the league on the last day of the season in game 67, they also overcome a scare to lift the Scottish Cup and complete a record 68 games and their fourth game in seven days. <BR><BR>However Smith must be the manager of the year, it makes clear sense, three finals, two trophies, a UEFA cup final amongst them in just after a year after resurrecting Scotland he has turned round a team who finished third and took them to a European final<BR><BR>So the PFA Manager of the year award goes to of course - Billy Reid.<BR><BR>Yes despite Smith landing the manager of the month award three times that season, more than any other manager, the recently promoted Hamilton Academical manager is awarded the trophy for winning League One.  The Writers at least see sense and award Walter their bauble however not without a swipe about how Rangers did not even bother to attend the award ceremony (missing the fact Rangers could not have attended the awards having not even been in the country as they were busy representing Scotland in the UEFA Cup abroad).<BR><BR>So to the Players awards. Carlos Cuellar has played every minute of every game in every competition with the exception of suspensions, he makes the European team of the year and picks up man of the match in some of the biggest games of the season but when the award is handed out by Celtic Captain Neil Lennon, (himself never a winner of either award) the award goes to Celtc winger Aiden McGeady. <BR><BR>A shocked McGeady says he didn't think he had a chance if he's honest and the other notable sound bite of the night comes from last year's winner Nakamaura who said he would have voted for Alan Hutton if he hadn't have gone to spurs in a £9.5m move.  For good measure Aiden also picks up the young players award with the writers at least seeing enough sense to Give Carlos their players award all the while never using Aiden's name without Player of the year in front of it.<BR><BR>Another year goes bye and it's time for more awards.  Walter Smith OBE wins the league, the Scottish cup and loses the league cup final after extra time to celtc, since returning he has made it to the final of every competition domestically he has entered so the PFA promptly name the departing Gordon Strachan as their manager of the year and the SFW of course seeing sense name Csaba Laszlo as theirs.<BR><BR>He like Tony Mowbray all those years before finishes 3rd in the SPL and 27pts behind Rangers.  Despite Rangers contesting every trophy and coming with 20 mins of a treble the player of the year awards go to Celtcs Gary Caldwell SFWA & Scott Brown PFA (Kris Boyd only scored 27 goals that season).<BR><BR>And so to present day.<BR><BR>The momentum is already started for Robbie Keane to win Player of the Year, despite only being in Scotland for seven weeks the writers tell us he is a class above stick out candidate Rangers Steve Davis.<BR><BR>Robbie Keane joined celtc in January 2010 on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, at the time celtc we're seven points behind leaders Rangers and still in the Scottish Cup, he was brought in essentially to put bums on seats and help celtc win the league.  He has scored 12 goals in 13 games, which on paper a marvelous record but when broken down is bleak. <BR><BR>4 goals have come from the spot, 8 of those goals have come in the month of March, 4 came in the cup and of the 8 in the league only 1 goal has been scored against a top 6 side, something the Writers are quick to share with us whenever it comes to SPL all time record goal scorer Kris Boyd (at the time of writing Boyd has chipped in again this year with 24 goals and is 1 shy of 100 SPL goals) his name however has never been mentioned as a player of the year. <BR><BR>On Saturday night Celtc lost 2-0 to Ross County in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, it was the biggest upset in the history of Scottish football and one the writers have unbelievably given their past have called the darkest day in the history of the club.  Robbie Keane, reportedly on £65k a week, coward in the sun against a 1st division side.  After a month which also saw his side lose 4-0 to bottom place St Mirren, Keane was named player of the month for March. <BR><BR>Rangers are now well clear of Celtc in the league, they need a few points to win the title, they won the league cup with 9 men (some would argue the help of a pigeon) and lost out away to Dundee United in the Scottish cup quarter finals with the last kick of the ball.  The Manager has worked without a contract since January and will continue to do so until the club is in safe hands; he has not been able to buy a player since July 2008 but has seen key players leave on mass.<BR><BR>On the Saturday night after the Ross County game amongst the inquest and calls to the radio stations about the celtc defeat, one listener called to asked the panel of assembled Scottish football writers if Walter Smith is the clear candidate to be named Manager of the year, one of them answered without hesitation;<BR><BR> "Manager of the year is not just about league position..."<BR><BR>So as someone once said then it clearly must be for reasons other than football.