St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson says his Manager of the Year nomination is recognition for everyone at the club – but believes the team can still enjoy further success this season.
The Northern Irishman has guided the Paisley side into the top six for the first time since the top-flight split was introduced and the team still has a chance to reach Europe if they can pick up enough points in their remaining four games.
That achievement has seen Robinson included on the four-man shortlist for the PFA’s award and he is the only manager on the list not to have won the league. The St Mirren boss is alongside Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou, Dunfermline’s James McPake and Stirling Albion boss Darren Young.
“It’s a recognition of everybody and what they’ve achieved this season,” Robinson said.
“I’m at the head of it so get the praise but ultimately the players have been exceptional. It’s the first time in a long time they’ve been in the top six and we’re still battling for a place in Europe.
“It’s credit to everybody: the board, the players, coming through difficult times. It’s culminated in a top six finish and hopefully there’s more to come.
“I’m very privileged, it’s twice in the last three years I’ve been nominated. It’s from people who know what they are talking about from within the game and at a very good level. It’s an honour but it’s not just for me, it’s for the club.”
The manager said earlier in the season that he would regard reaching the top six as his greatest achievement in football, given the tight budget he has had to work with. Asked if he still held that view, he said it was a different experience to his noteworthy time at Motherwell.
“I’ve got to further stages in competitions (at other clubs),” Robinson said. “We got to third qualifying round in Europe, cup finals with Motherwell and we finished third so people would probably think that was better.
“But I think the circumstances with the financial problems are probably what made me say it. We’ve had to galvanise, everyone’s stuck together, we’ve come through the other side. It’s nice to see that everybody’s going in the same direction.
“I won’t change my mind, it’s certainly been the hardest achievement and it’s a really good one. You can see the joy that it’s brought to a lot of people in Paisley and now we want to go and finish off the season.
“We’re 1-0 down in terms of the race for Europe and we have to play like that.”
A 2-1 defeat to Hibernian at Easter Road in the first of the post-split fixtures leaves St Mirren with an uphill battle to claim a Europa Conference League place. As he prepares his team to face Hearts in Paisley on Saturday, Robinson was in no doubt about the significance of the match.
“It is must-win,” he said. “We were 2-0 down at half-time last week and we were brilliant.
“We played without fear, we didn’t over-think things and we have to play like that for 96 or 97 minutes tomorrow.
“We have to play without fear. We’ll put out an attacking team, as attacking as we can be with our injury situation.
“We’ve absolutely nothing to lose There was no expectation for us to get this far.
“We’ve told the boys that we’ve had our praise for top six now, enjoyed that and now let’s go and get more.
“Let’s get the recognition the players deserve by getting into Europe. 100% must-win.”