Motherwell's Stuart McCall wins SPL manager of year award

 

Stuart McCall has been voted Clydesdale Bank Manager of the Year and admitted that his Motherwell side surpassed his own expectations by finishing second.

He described finishing runners-up behind Scottish Premier League champions Celtic as "incredible".

"We lost three or four key players and everyone was tipping Dundee United, Hearts, Aberdeen to be the sides in second spot," McCall recalled.

"We didn't get a mention and rightly so. Top six was our genuine aim."

It's possibly the first time I've ever been cheering Celtic on at a cup final

Stuart McCall Motherwell manager

McCall succeeded Craig Brown as Motherwell manager in December 2010, with his side finishing sixth in the table.

But, in his first full season at Fir Park, Well were third behind Celtic and Rangers.

With Rangers absent, their financial problems leading to a new beginning in Division Three, Well have emerged as the best of the rest, 13 points behind Celtic but nine ahead of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

"To finish, with a game to go, in second spot while beating last season's points tally , which I thought we'd never get near, is just a tribute to the players," said the 48-year-old as he took the award from the SPL's sponsor.

"The tiny group of players have been fantastic and stood up to it.

"We've still got one big game to go at St Johnstone and we've still got little targets we want to meet.

Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph is one player definitely leaving Motherwell

"I think we've got the best away record at the moment and it would be fantastic to go up there and win it and go into double figures for away victories."

However, McCall said his highlight of the season was their European ties, when they lost narrowly to Panathinaikos in Champions League qualifying then were beaten by Levante in the Europa League.

He is looking forward to another Europa League adventure next season, but the former Rangers midfielder admits that it has left him with unusual allegiances.

"We'll go into Europe a week later depending on the Scottish Cup final result," he said. "If Celtic manage to beat Hibs then we would go into Europe a bit later.

"So it's possibly the first time I've ever been cheering Celtic on at a cup final."

McCall, who was also on the shortlist for the PFA Scotland manager of the year award won by Queen of the South's Allan Johnston, says he will be working with a reduced budget once again next season.

He will again lose some of his better players and Well chief executive Leeann Dempster recognises that such awards and achievements could have richer clubs eyeing their manager as well.

"I hope that doesn't happen for some time yet," said Dempster, whose club also won the best media relations award from the Clydesdale Bank.

"He is a great person to have around the club, he's a great person to work with and we were very fortunate when Stuart agreed to come and join us.

"We felt he was going to be a great fit for us. It's worked out that way.

"He's proven his managerial skills and there's no doubt he's had his best managerial season so far and we're delighted to have him here."