Hearts boss honoured with manager of year nomination

Jeweller Alan Smith engraves Heart of Midlothian on to the Championship trophy in preparation for the hand-over to the champions against Rangers on Saturday. Picture: Jeff Holmes
Jeweller Alan Smith engraves Heart of Midlothian on to the Championship trophy in preparation for the hand-over to the champions against Rangers on Saturday. Picture: Jeff Holmes
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Robbie Neilson today revealed his pride at being a contender for Scotland’s Manager of the Year and said he is honoured to be nominated by his fellow coaches.

The Hearts head coach is the only nominee from outside the Scottish Premiership, the others being Celtic’s Ronny Deila, John Hughes of Inverness and Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes.

Hearts’ record breaking league title win has earned Neilson huge respect in his first season as a manager.

The 34-year-old steered his club to automatic promotion from the Championship with seven games to spare as they set a new points total for the division. Their final game of the season is this Saturday when Rangers visit Tynecastle.

Neilson believes the increased exposure in this season’s Championship contributed to his name joining Deila, Hughes and McInnes as the front-runners for Manager of the Year. He admitted he is delighted to be considered in the same category as those three and to have been put forward for the award by managers across Scotland.

“It’s nice to get recognised because it’s the coaches in the leagues who vote for it. It’s not players or fans or anyone else, it’s the actual managers who are out there,” Neilson told the Evening News.

“It’s great to be included in it because you have some fantastic coaches there in John Hughes, Ronny Deila and Derek McInnes. To be in the same bracket as them is great for me.

“Usually it is the coaches in the top flight who get the attention but I think the Championship has been a fantastic league this year with Rangers, Hibs and ourselves all in it. That has probably helped because there’s been so much publicity because of the three big teams.”

Neilson insisted that Hearts’ players must take a large share of the credit for his nomination. “It doesn’t matter how good a coach you are because if you don’t have good players you’ll never be successful,” he continued.

“The players are what it’s about at the club. They’re the guys who do the training sessions, play the matches, listen to you and show the right attitude and work rate. It’s all really down to the players. Any accolade the club gets on the football side, it’s the players who do it for you.

“I didn’t know about the nomination but I got some text messages yesterday afternoon when I turned my phone on. That was the first I knew of it. You don’t get any prior warning about these things so it was nice to hear that I’d been included.”