Ian McCall has won the Ladbrokes League 1 Manager of the Season award, after guiding Ayr United to promotion.
The 51-year-old led the Honest Men back to the Ladbrokes Championship in his first full season in charge, with his exciting side defeating Stranraer after a play-off final victory on penalties.
Along the way, attacking Ayr netted four or more goals in seven different games, while they cleaned up their act defensively, conceding just 47 times during the regular season – a huge improvement on the 60 strikes they shipped in 2014-15.
Speaking to Ladbrokes News, McCall praised his side’s defensive steel, putting that improvement down to a mixture of: “tactics and fitness, but most importantly, the players we’ve had at our disposal.”
“The full-backs were a huge part of our success. Nicky Devlin and Paddy Boyle were as good as any pairing in the league, and Peter Murphy at centre-back was an ever-present and very solid. We also have a good midfield who offered them a lot of protection”, he added.
Ever-presents were hard to come by, with injuries a thorn in McCall’s side throughout the season, but his squad overcame their knocks in time for their crunch play-off clashes with Peterhead and Stranraer.
McCall noted: “We suddenly had all our players fit, and managed to get Jordan Preston and Craig Moore playing together up front again in the latter part of the season.”
“During the 4-0 win at Stenhousemuir and the two four-goal hauls at Peterhead, they were absolutely outstanding.”
Those kinds of scorelines are likely to make their new opponents in the Ladbrokes Championship sit up and take notice, and McCall is determined that his side can succeed in the second tier.
“You’ve got to aim high. We’re aiming for mid-table and possibly even the play-offs. There’s no point aiming to finish eighth”, he asserted.
Ayr are 28/1 to win the Ladbrokes Championship next season, but having ended this campaign in sensational form, and with a talented manager at the helm, it’s far from impossible that they’ll be celebrating another promotion next May.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.