St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has won the Ladbrokes Premiership Manager of the Season award for 2015-16.
The Northern Irish boss guided Saints to a second successive top-four finish in the Ladbrokes Premiership for the first time in the club’s history, with the Perth club regularly taking points from the league’s biggest sides.
This continually improving Saints side – who scored 58 goals in this Premiership season, an impressive increase on last season’s 34 – have given their fans joy throughout the campaign.
A sensational 5-1 victory at Aberdeen in October was perhaps their most eye-catching result, but comfortable wins at Hearts and Inverness – as well as a first victory over Celtic since 2012 – has highlighted the quality of the side Wright has built.
However, the affable boss was quick to heap the praise on his squad, telling Ladbrokes News: “[This success] has all been down to the players. We’ve had a good spread of goals from throughout the team, as well as having a prolific goalscorer in Steven MacLean.”
But it’s clear that the talented Wright has found new methods to bring success and entertainment to Saints fans, not least by finding a perfect blend of experienced campaigners and raw talent.
“Having so many experienced players is massively important, and it’s helped us to introduce younger players this season”, the 53-year-old said.
“We’re starting to get some of our younger players through, and we’ve given debuts to several teenagers throughout season, including Greg Hurst and Liam Gordon.”
“The only way you can introduce those players is if you have a solid, stable team with experienced players and that’s the reason we’ve been able to give our young lads a chance in the first-team.”
Wright’s development of Saints’ playing style has also been a purposeful one. “We’ve tried to be a bit more expansive this year in terms of how we play, and I think that’s paid off”, he said.
Though the former Ballymena United boss admits the Ladbrokes Premiership is increasing in quality every year – telling us “Brendan Rodgers arrival is sure to strengthen Celtic, and Rangers will be tough opposition”, he’s confident the club can “maintain the standards [they] have built on during the past few years”.
And why shouldn’t he be confident? “We’ve proven we can cause problems for the big teams. We’ve had quite a good record against Aberdeen this year, and obviously beaten Celtic since the split”, added Wright.
“We see the strengths of those big sides, and try to nullify them, and then work out how to hurt the opposition ourselves.”
Few would be surprised to see Saints continue to upset the odds and record more superb results against the Ladbrokes Premiership’s biggest names again next season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.