GORDON Strachan has praised Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes for bringing the Pittodrie club to life this season.
The Scotland boss was at Celtic Park in March to see McInnes’s side beat Inverness on penalties in the Scottish League Cup final and was mightily impressed by the 40,000 and more Dons fans who invaded the east end of Glasgow to see the rejuvenated Granite City club win its first piece of silverware in 19 years.
Strachan, who played for Aberdeen during the most successful period in the club’s history in the late 1970s and 1980s, was at Hampden Park today where he revealed the four nominees for the PFA Scotland manager of the year award.
McInnes, Celtic boss Neil Lennon, Stuart McCall of Motherwell, who also doubles as Scotland coach, and St Johnstone’s Tommy Wright, whose side will play Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Celtic Park next month, are all in the hunt for the award.
Strachan spoke about his recent and first-hand experiences of witnessing how McInnes has transformed the fortunes of his former club and he revealed his admiration.
“Derek, with his coaching staff and players, have brought Aberdeen alive again,” he said.
“I was at the final in Glasgow and in the morning of the game the place was full of Aberdeen fans, the stadium was full and it was fantastic.
“I went to see them in the semi-final at Tynecastle and the atmosphere was unbelievable.
“So not only has Derek done a great job for Aberdeen, he has done a great job for Scottish football, in that he is filling stadiums with Aberdeen fans which is fantastic and the fact that they have won a trophy after few years of not winning anything, is terrific.”
The former Southampton, Celtic and Middlesbrough boss also put up a good case for the other three candidates - Celtic’s Neil Lennon, Motherwell’s Stuart McCall and St Johnstone’s Tommy Wright - to win the accolade which is voted for by all 42 managers in the professional leagues.
“Neil won the league with nearly a record amount of points,” Strachan said.
“They have made the league look like it was easy because of their application and team spirit.
“I was worried about Stuart McCall because he lost five really good players in the summer.
“If you lose four or five good players through injury in the season you are liable to have a real problem.
“That he has lost these players and replaced them without spending any money, is quite phenomenal, and to be third in the league with a chance of being second is fantastic.”
“Tommy Wright got off to a great start to the season,” continued Strachan.
“Everybody sat up when they beat Rosenborg (in a Europa League qualifier).
“We know how difficult it is to play Scandanavian sides at that time of the year because they have played so many games and since then, his team has developed as individuals and as a group.
“I saw them the other week against Aberdeen, they are not the quickest team in the world but they play their way through teams fantastically well.
“So congratulations to these four managers who have brought entertainment to Scottish football and not just to their own clubs.”
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on Sunday.