Championship Managers of the Year 2014/15
1. No real doubt about this – Robbie Neilson. From the very start of this unique Championship season his Hearts team set the pace and were pretty much unchallenged as they romped the league. You could argue that Hearts had a large budget and the backing of a tremendous support but the story is more complicated than that as Neilson had to help rebuild the club that were very nearly on the brink. His team play effective and attacking football that has been too much for the other sides in the division and there is no doubt that Hearts are a top flight club. They will now hope that Neilson could be the man to help get them back to the standing they deserve but Neilson may attract interest from other clubs if he continues this impressive start to his managerial career. Credit too to Craig Levein and Anne Budge as they also played a major role in this Hearts revival.
2. Just like in the league table Hibs again finish below Hearts. Last season was a season to forget for both Edinburgh teams but more so for Hibs as they crashed out of the Premiership in embarrassing fashion. After that relegation the decision was made very quickly that things needed to change at the club. With a new Chief Executive on board (the very impressive Leeann Dempster) they moved to appoint an inexperienced head coach in the shape of Alan Stubbs. Things did not start very well for the former Celtic player and their early season form suggested that Hibs yet again failed to appoint the right man. Times have changed though and Hibs have been very impressive over the majority of this Championship season. They finished in second place and will be aiming to achieve top flight football through the playoffs. Even if that doesn’t happen Stubbs has Hibs moving in the right direction with the emergence of young talent and some decent transfer business (Scott Allan is the pick of the bunch).
3. In third spot we have another team aiming for promotion through the playoffs. Rangers? No, you must be joking! The final spot on the Championship list goes to James Fowler at Queen of the South. After Jim McIntyre left for Ross County the club didn’t have to look far for someone to take over the reins. For Fowler it meant having the job of a player/manager and becoming a full-time member of staff (there are only two at the club). He deserves massive credit for the huge amount of work he has put in this year. With a small budget and not many around him he has filled his time with more than just managerial responsibilities. Fowler and the Queens fans will all be looking forward to their playoffs but they can all also look forward to a bright future under Fowler’s management. He has good ideas about what he wants and he is a young, driven and enthusiastic manager with a big future.