Lennon backs Clarke for manager of the year

Neil Lennon has tipped Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke to win Scottish football’s manager of the year award after his impact at Rugby Park.

Clarke has led Killie away from trouble at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership since arriving in October with 10 wins in his 18 games in charge.

Such has been his impact that Killie, who had just three points when he arrived, now sit sixth in the table having won four games on the bounce and are arguably the form team in Scotland right now, and Lennon admits his influence could be recognised at the end of the season.

When asked if he was a leading contender for the award, Lennon, whose Hibernian side travel to Ayrshire on Saturday, said: “You would have to think so, yeah.

“There are plenty, Stephen Robinson for me is another who has done amazing and then you have the usual contenders in Brendan (Rodgers) and Derek (McInnes).”

Lennon would be a strong contender himself after leading newly-promoted Hibs to fourth and with a good chance of a top-three finish following successive wins over Rangers and Aberdeen, but he has been hugely impressed with the work done by the former Reading and West Brom boss since taking over from Lee McCulloch.

“He is a very unassuming guy but one of the best managers around at this level for sure,” the Hibs boss said.

He added: “He’s got great experience and a great knowledge of the game, he is somebody the players will respect.

“I don’t mean the players didn’t respect Lee but maybe some of the players need to look at themselves and ask why they were underperforming?

“What he has done has come in and given them a lift.

“I think Alex Dyer deserves a mention as well as Steve’s number two. He is very experienced and an excellent assistant manager.

“They look like they’re enjoying life, but it’s hard to tell with Steve!”

On the form of his own side and their chances of breaking into the top three, Lennon said: “The table doesn’t lie, we are five points off second place so you would have to realistically say with 10/11 games to go that we are in with a right shout.

“I said at the start of the season it would be Celtic, then Rangers and Aberdeen and then the rest of us would be fighting for it and that is how it has panned out.”

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