THE managerial award baubles have already been allocated, but St Johnstone skipper Dave Mackay is not content with having lifted the club’s first major honour. He is now adamant that Tommy Wright should be crowned manager of the year.
Mackay did not put a foot wrong at the weekend, first when helping keep out Dundee United in the 2-0 Scottish Cup final win, and then when lifting the trophy with a camera strapped to his chest in an experiment described as a “world first” by the Scottish Football Association.
“It was something the SFA put on me so they could see the celebrations,” he said. “They told us no swearing but I couldn’t guarantee them that!”
He did manage to avoid turning the air blue and then later he made a case for Wright being recognised for his achievements, even though Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has already won both the PFA Scotland and the Scottish Football Writers’ Association manager awards.
“He has got to be manager of the year,” said Mackay of Wright. “Derek McInnes has done a great job as well in rejuvenating Aberdeen. They won the League Cup, reached another semi-final and finished third in the league. But I think that if they held the awards back a bit then there is absolutely no doubt that our manager would be manager of the year.
“You have to look at the fan base and the resources at a club like ourselves,” he added. “He has got us into the top six in the league, beaten teams in Europe, got us to a semi-final and then won the Scottish Cup.
“It has been an incredible first season and I am delighted for him. He is up there with any of my managers. I don’t like to single people out in that way. I have worked with quite a few good ones – and plenty of rubbish ones! But he is definitely up there with the best of them.”
After losing the 2003 Scottish Cup final to Rangers when with Dundee, it was particularly satisfying for the 33-year-old to lift the trophy, at the same time ending a 130-year cup drought for his club. He had to wait a little while longer than he had hoped, however.
“I was about to lift the cup and the guy presenting it kept pulling it back down,” he said. “I was like: ‘Just let us get on with it and enjoy our moment’. It must not have been quite the right time to lift it, but you can’t put it in front of us and expect it to be left alone.”
Steven Anderson, who scored St Johnstone’s opener against Dundee United with a back-post header, is another player who has waited a long time for this moment.
“I can remember the days when we were struggling in the First Division, finishing third from bottom under John Connolly,” he recalled. “Then Owen Coyle took over and we’ve been progressing ever since.
“The day when we missed out on promotion to the SPL by a matter of minutes on the final day of the 2007 season is one of the worst experiences I’ve had in the game but you put these things behind you, get on with it and, hopefully, win something.”
Anderson’s fifth goal of the season was a carbon copy of the header he scored against United last month, in another 2-0 win.
“I was a bit shocked – it’s not like me to be scoring goals although, to be fair, I’ve had a few recently,” he said, with all his goals having been scored since March. “It was the same type of goal I got against them the last time and I’m delighted.
“The gaffer does his homework and tells us where they’re weak and it paid off today. He goes over set plays and he’s very thorough. My run to the back post is the one I always make and I got lucky when the ’keeper missed the corner. He’s made a mistake and I’ve capitalised on it.”
It was a fitting way for Anderson to end his testimonial year, having signed for the club from Dundee United in 2004.
“The trophy and getting into Europe caps the perfect testimonial year for me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing in the Europa League again. We’re improving every year. We were third last season and top six the year before that, so it’s about time we won a cup.”