We recognize that the Annual Full Scottish Football Awards hardly hold the appeal of, say, the Oscars—or even the Golden Globes. The Full Scottish with Brian P Dunleavy
We recognize that the Annual Full Scottish Awards hardly hold the appeal of, say, the Oscars—or even the Golden Globes.
We realize that most of you, dear readers, haven’t been holding your breath waiting for this jury’s deliberations.
That said, we do feel a bit late with our prizes for this season, particularly given that the Premiership title race has long been decided, and that the league trophy will bear blue ribbons for the first time in 10 seasons. Indeed, while most of these winners could have been picked in early March, we decided to wait until the rest of the league table was (essentially) determined before making our selections.
So, without further ado (or delay), the winners of the Full Scottish Awards are:
MANAGER OF THE YEAR—Steven Gerrard, Rangers
Really, the only surprise here would have been picking someone other than the Liverpool legend, who this term not only captured the first top-flight title of his career (as a player or coach) but stopped Celtic’s march to “10 in a Row,” which seemed inevitable a scant eight months ago. But make no mistake, Gerrard’s Rangers didn’t just win the league, they did so by 20 (or more) points, while playing attractive football. Suddenly, their rivals have a lot of catching up to do just to challenge the Ibrox side in 2021-22. Runner-up: Jack Ross, Hibs.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR—James Tavernier, Rangers
Another no-brainer. The Ibrox skipper, currently out with an injury, just signed a new long-term deal to remain in Govan, and no wonder: He’s a right-back who tied striker Alfredo Morelos for a team-high 11 goals in league play.
And then there are the intangibles. Squads with lesser spirit might have folded after outplaying their rivals only to lose the 2019 League Cup, or after seeing the ninth Prem title going Celtic’s way after a COVID-curtailed campaign in 2019-20. Instead, they came “ready” for a fight—and scored a knockout in the early rounds.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Stephen Welsh, Celtic/Nathan Patterson, Rangers (tie)
We originally intended to leave Celtic shut out of our year-end accolades, but Welsh deserves plaudits for emerging from the morass that has been the Hoops’ 2020-21 season to claim a spot in the middle of the back four. Patterson, meanwhile, has (COVID controversies aside) turned heads with his cameo at right-back at Ibrox, primarily in the absence of Tavernier. The Tartan Army surely must be keeping an eye on his development, too, given the paucity of right-backs in the Scotland set-up.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Steven Davis, Rangers
Davis’ career looked to be on the downswing in 2018-19, after an injury-filled campaign. However, the 36-year-old Northern Ireland captain returned to Rangers from Southampton in 2019 and he seemed to recapture some of his former magic. He’s eclipsed the 40-appearance mark across all competitions for ’Gers in each of the past two seasons—something no one saw happening when he returned north of the boarder.
STORY OF THE SEASON Celtic’s collapse
Yes, we could have (and perhaps should have) made this “Rangers stopping the 10,” but we just have a feeling there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the Hoops’ unravelling in 2020-21.
Yes, a lot of armchair gaffers came out of the woodwork to question ex-manager Neil Lennon’s tactical acumen as the wheels began to fall off this season, but no one was calling his tactics into question last February, when essentially the same squad (with a few notable additions, no less) turned on the jets to win the league going away.
Then there was the trip to Dubai, chief executive Peter Lawwell’s seemingly sudden decision to step down, captain Scott Brown’s pre-contract with Aberdeen and video of a boozed-up Lennon emerging on social media… We may not know the full story behind all of this until someone’s book comes out.