CELTIC manager Brendan Rodgers was first to express his surprise at the omission of his inspirational skipper Scott Brown from the PFA Scotland Player of the Year shortlist.

The Irishman has three of stars in the reckoning alongside Jonny Hayes from Aberdeen who must have been as surprised as anyone to make the final four.

Stuart Armstong, Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele are all there on munspecified-77erit. And Rodgers could have argued the toss for some of his other star performers this season.

Craig Gordon, initially not fancied by the former Liverpool boss who brought in his own goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, won back his place and seemed to become a more accomplished goalkeeper from the moment he replaced the unfortunate Dutchman at half-time in a game against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park early in the season.

Mikael Lustig, who struggled in the final months of Ronny’s reign, regained his old mojo and has been outstanding at right back and as a central defender. He popped up on Saturday to score the best of the five goals with his late strike to rub salt in the Rangers wounds. Four was a doing but Lustig ensured that it became a humiliation for the Ibrox side, and didn’t he enjoy his celebrations.

But it was Brown’s omission from the list that surprised Rodgers the most. He’s just not been in Scottish football long enough to figure it out for himself.

Neil Lennon, the manager of Hibs might have himself been fairly confident of making at least the final four for the PFA Manager of the Year Award. But he’s been up here long enough not to hold his breathe.


Lennon has won the Championship with Hibernian and took Aberdeen all the way in semi-final of the Scottish Cup, knocking out Edinburgh rivals Hearts on the way to Hampden.

That wasn’t enough to get him nominated as manager of the year. Strange that when you consider that the manager who won the Championship last season, Mark Warburton at Rangers, not only got onto the shortlist, but actually won it, winning the same trophy that Lennon picked up this year with a fraction of the budget Warburton had at his disposal.

Worse still, Lennon omission made way for a place for Morton manager Jim Duffy, who won nothing and finished well off Hibs in the race for the Championship.

Managers it seems, just didn’t want to vote for Neil Lennon.

And likewise with the players and the Celtic captain Scott Brown.

“I am very surprised,” Rodgers admitted. “I look at N’Golo Kante down south, a central midfield player who is not flash and does the dirty work – but does it to a real top level.


“For us up here, I think that’s what Scott Brown does. I don’t know how he was last year, but consistently over 50 games this season he has been a top performer.

“He has had one bad game, Hearts away. Every other game he was eight out of 10, nine out of 10.

“You talk about influence and you judge people in the big pressure games. How many times have you seen the influence of Scott Brown? Minimum, he is worthy of a nomination.

“I respect you can only nominate a certain number, but this is a guy whose level has been unbelievable throughout the season.”

Maybe it is just down to Brown’s aggressive determination on the park that has rattled a few cages in the other SPFL dressing rooms this season.

Rodgers could see some truth in that: “He has got that, no doubt about it. Before I knew him, I thought he could do with smiling a bit more.
“He is two different people. The man on a day to day basis is totally different to the guy you see in the tunnel, starey-eyed, aggressive“‘My experience of the best players, the world class, is that they all have the edge. And he has the edge.

“The guys who score the goals get the rewards normally. But because of Scott’s level, I was surprised. He is at the top of his game physically.”

Rodgers and Jim Duffy are joined by Derek McInnes at Aberdeen and Patrick Thistle manager Alan Archibald in the shortlist for manager of the year.
Duffy has stablished Morton, McInnes has seen off the challenge for second place from Rangers and has reached two Cup Finals and Archibald got Thistle into the top six.
Rodgers has won the Premiership and the Betfred Cup and has also reached the Scottish Cup Final and has failed to lose a domestic match all season!

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