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Sean Wallace: Barry Robson should sweep Scotland’s manager of the year prizes

No manager in Scotland has made as big an impact on a club's fortunes this season as Robson, who has led Aberdeen from chaos to third in the Premiership.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson shouts from the sideline against St Johnstone. Image: SNS
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson shouts from the sideline against St Johnstone. Image: SNS

Barry Robson should land the SPFL’s manager of the year award for completely transforming Aberdeen’s season.

Under Robson’s guidance, the Reds have emerged from complete chaos to become one of the form teams in British football.

The Pittodrie board this week rewarded Robson’s remarkable transformation of the club’s fortunes with a two-year contract until summer 2025.

His rapid and remarkable resurrection of the Dons should also be recognised at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association end of season awards.

Robson has only managed 10 Premiership games this season, but I would argue the manager of the year honour is about the impact of a boss, not the number of games.

No manager in Scottish football has made as significant an impact this season as Robson has at Aberdeen.

In three short months Robson has taken a crisis hit side from the bottom six up to third spot in the Premiership – with the club’s longest winning run since 2015.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson drives on his side against Rangers. Image: SNS

Robson has not only saved this season – he could also provide a substantial boost for the 2023/24 campaign if he closes out a third-placed finish.

Finishing third would land the Dons European group stage football until December and a £3.2 million cash boost – if Celtic win the Scottish Cup.

Third also brings a £3.5m SPFL prize payment.

Robson took over when Aberdeen were sitting seventh in the Premiership – which brings a payment of only £1.8m.

Barry Robson, right, during the win over Rangers at Pittodrie. Image: Shutterstock

So if Aberdeen finish third and reach the Euro groups, Robson will have masterminded a £4.9m cash boost in terms of UEFA and SPFL payments – with more to come from Continental gate receipts, sponsorship and television revenue.

It is money which will help a summer rebuild as Robson structures his own team.

Robson inherited a struggling Aberdeen side with one win in 10 games – and has led them to seven straight victories.

Imagine what he could do with a team packed with his own players he has signed to carry out his vision and style of football.

Postecoglou is delivering, but only what is expected of him

Obviously Ange Postecoglou will be viewed as the leading candidate for manager of the year after another superb season managing treble-chasing Celtic.

The League Cup is already in the Parkhead trophy cabinet and the Premiership title will follow soon.

Celtic will go for the treble when facing Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup final.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou. Image: SNS

As impressive as Celtic’s season has been, I would argue Postecoglou is only delivering what is expected of him and his team.

Celtic won the double last season with the Premiership title and League Cup.

Robson has delivered the unexpected to haul Aberdeen from the worst 10 day in the club’s history to the brink of finishing third.

Postecoglou manages a Celtic team who were already a well-oiled winning machine when the season began.

Robson inherited a side who couldn’t win.

Rewind just three months and Aberdeen were in absolute chaos, having suffered three successive humiliating losses to Hearts (5-0), sixth tier Darvel (1-0) and Hibs (6-0).

Has there been a worse week for Aberdeen’s 120-year history? No.

Aberdeen were sliding down the table, hunting for a new manager after sacking Jim Goodwin and the transfer window had closed, so there was no scope for Robson to overhaul a woefully underperforming team.

The prognosis for the rest of the season looked bleak.

Yet Robson turned it around by quickly instilling an identity into the Dons team and a bond has clearly been forged between the manager and his players.

They are all busting a gut for Robson.

That has also transmitted to the fanbase and the connection between the supporters and the team is growing game by game.


As Aberdeen’s board scoured the globe for a new manager the answer was already in the building.

Robson has been developing a football style and philosophy during his time working with the Dons’ under-18s team.

He quickly instilled that into the first team and it has paid off spectacularly.

Despite the sensational winning form under Robson, there will be no trophies this season for Aberdeen.

The humiliating Scottish Cup exit to Darvel under former boss Goodwin ended that silverware bid.

However, there should be an individual trophies coming to Pittodrie – with Robson’s name on them.

Busy transfer window for Robson

Aberdeen boss Robson faces a major squad rebuild during the summer transfer window – which is why securing Robson and assistant Steve Agnew on two-year deals now is the right move.

There was no point in delaying their appointment as permanent managers until the end of the season.

Confirming the long-term futures of Robson and Agnew allows the duo to ramp up the plans for the summer transfer window.

The clarity over Robson’s contract situation will help him secure signings.

Players are more likely to commit to a club when there is security with the managerial position. That has now been delivered.

Robson will also now be able to accelerate transfer talks with players already at the club following his confirmation as manager for next term.

Aberdeen defender Liam Scales celebrates making it 1-0 against Rangers. Image: SNS

Uncertainty over the managerial position could perhaps have clouded some players’ decisions on their future.

The main priority is signing Graeme Shinnie on a permanent contract.

Captain Shinnie is on loan at Pittodrie and has one year left on his contract at Wigan Athletic, who were relegated from the Championship at the weekend.

Wigan are open to selling Shinnie to Aberdeen and discussions between the clubs have already opened.

Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie celebrates at full-time against Dundee United. Image: SNS

Another priority should be moving to sign Celtic loan star Liam Scales, who has been superb in the recent winning run.

If Robson can also negotiate a way to keep loan stars Leighton Clarkson (Liverpool) and Mattie Pollock (Watford) for next season, that would be a major boost.

However, Clarkson and Pollock are both highly rated by their parent clubs and will be desperate to make their mark in England.

Robson has led Aberdeen to a healthy five-point lead in third spot with only five post-split fixtures remaining.

Leighton Clarkson after Aberdeen’s win over Rangers on Sunday. Image: SNS

Winning the home games against Hibs and St Mirren should be enough to secure that third-placed finish.

Aberdeen are also more than capable of getting result on the road against Rangers, Hearts and Celtic.

The Dons are granite solid in defence, creative in midfield and dangerous in attack.

Robson has them disciplined, well organised and also calm. There is no panic in the pursuit of a win.

It is a winning combination which should secure third.

Brecel has lit up snooker worlds

Recently-crowned world snooker champion Luca Brecel’s willingness to go for difficult, audacious shots has been refreshing.

Brecel plays with a freedom where he trusts his instincts to take on a shot.

Most of the time it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t and it makes for compelling viewing.

The Belgian also showed there is balance to his game.


You can’t win a world title by just potting ability. You need the right character, tactical knowledge and safety game.

And he displayed them all to defeat Mark Selby 18-15 in the final.