TTU Awards 2011-12: Manager of the Season
For our penultimate award it’s difficult, as ever, to overlook those managers who have steered their team to either a championship or promotion winning season.
Indeed, despite his irritating histrionics and basic unpleasantness, Paolo di Canio took a previously dismal Swindon back up to League 1 at the first time of asking against a backdrop of tragic personal circumstances and, should he stick it out in Wiltshire, his side should be competitive in 2012-13.
Otherwise, much credit goes to Chris Powell and Nigel Adkins both; the former for getting it spot on and rejuvenating a team close to his heart; the latter for leading Saints to two successive promotions, an achievement which is perhaps underestimated owing to Norwich’s identical feat a year ago.
But, unlike our recipient this year, each of these managers was – to a certain extent – backed in the transfer market. Forced to sell key players Shane Long and Matt Mills for a combined £10m and given less than a tenth of that to spend on replacements, Brian McDermott is a miracle worker, as well as being a master of the tactical substitution and a supreme motivator. Having crucially won the psychological battles with Nigel Adkins and Sam Allardyce in the run-in, McDermott is, we think, a worthy winner of TTU’s Manager of the Season this term.
Honourable, dewy-eyed mentions go to Sean Dyche, who was widely dismissed as a cheap option after taking the Watford reins from Malky Mackay but went on to improve upon his predecessor’s league position; Gus Poyet, whose progress continued steadily over last season; Michael Appleton for showing dignity and honesty in the face of extraordinarily trying circumstances; Gary Smith for Stevenage’s charge to the play-offs, a real achievement for a man working with peanuts and someone else’s squad; Keith Curle, too, for sorting out a swiftly worked out Notts County side; and Mark McGhee for clearing up Paul Buckle’s mess with minimal fuss at Bristol Rovers.