Eurovision League Two Manager of the Year: Plymouth boss Derek Adams triumphs

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 10 May 2017, 14:40

It’s Eurovision week, so what better way to celebrate than with a Manager of the Year competition in the time-honoured Eurovision format?

Eurovision Introduction

To that end, we’ve enlisted an esteemed panel of journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, betting industry professionals and match-going fans from all 92 English clubs and we asked them all to vote for their top-10 managers of the 2016/17 season in their respective divisions.

Each club had one representative and they weren’t allowed to vote for the man in charge of their own team. All 92 made their choices completely independently of everyone else.

The process is both thorough and extensive, making the end result difficult to dispute. But this is Eurovision remember, so don’t be too surprised if you spot the odd historical link between certain clubs and managers, not to mention a bit of geographical bias here and there!

The results of the competition will be published over the next few days with links through to our panelists and how they voted, while our master of ceremonies, The Sack Race columnist Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike), will offer his input on how he would have voted, explaining his choices along the way.

League One Results | Championship

Each edition will be formatted as follows:

  • League Findings
  • Results Table
  • Where the votes went
  • The Panel
  • Mike's Picks

Let's kick things off with a look at League Two:

League Two Findings

The League Two title went right down to the wire and the uncertainty over who would finish top had a major bearing here, with the majority of votes cast in the week leading up to the final round of games. Plymouth were leading the way at that stage and were widely expected to take care of business at Grimsby, so it should come as no great surprise to see Derek Adams scoop the award.

Whether Paul Cook would have troubled Adams had all votes been cast after the weekend is debatable, though. Portsmouth slipped through the back door to take the title with a rousing 6-1 win over Cheltenham but Cook’s deficit according to our Eurovision voting system (58 points in the end) would have required a much bigger turnaround than was required in the table over the final 90 minutes.

As it was, 15 different clubs voted Adams in their top two compared to just seven who ranked Cook first or second - the difference, presumably, being perceptions of budget and the quality of personnel at their disposal. Pompey were viewed by many as the Galacticos of the division - a reputation they didn’t live up to often enough - whereas Adams had gained more respect for his tactical nous.

Indeed, Cook had to settle for third place behind Paul Tisdale. The EFL’s longest-serving manager has re-emerged as a high achiever after five disappointing seasons with Exeter, guiding them into the play-offs having been bottom of the table after 17 matches. The Grecians picked up 32 points from a possible 36 between November and February, scoring 29 goals in the process and conceding just four.

The 'recency effect' also took a heavy toll on Darren Ferguson, who had to settle for fourth place after his Doncaster side finished the season on a run of four straight defeats. Rovers were sitting on a six-point cushion in the title race when they secured promotion against Mansfield with five games to go but dropped off a cliff thereafter, with only four voters awarding Ferguson a maximum 12-point haul.

Darren Sarll made a big impression on many voters for his exploits with Stevenage, ranked first by four different clubs and second by another three, to finish fifth overall. Meanwhile, Luton boss Nathan Jones made the top ten in all but one of the 23 available votes but only one club had him in their top two.

Results Table

League Two

Where the votes went

(12 points = Top pick, 10 points = 2nd pick, 8 points = 3rd pick, and so on)

Derek Adams (217)

  • 12 - Blackpool, Cheltenham, Hartlepool, Luton, Morecambe, Portsmouth, Yeovil
  • 10 - Cambridge, Carlisle, Colchester, Crawley, Doncaster, Grimsby, Leyton Orient, Stevenage
  • 8 - Barnet, Mansfield
  • 7 - Accrington, Crewe, Newport, Notts County, Wycombe
  • 2 - Exeter

Paul Tisdale (182)

  • 12 - Plymouth
  • 10 - Crewe, Luton, Mansfield, Morecambe, Newport, Notts County, Portsmouth
  • 8 - Accrington, Cheltenham, Grimsby, Leyton Orient, Stevenage, Wycombe, Yeovil
  • 7 - Cambridge, Colchester, Doncaster
  • 6 - Barnet, Crawley
  • 5 - Blackpool, Carlisle
  • 1 - Hartlepool

Paul Cook (161)

  • 12 - Colchester, Crawley, Grimsby, Notts County
  • 10 - Accrington, Cheltenham, Wycombe
  • 8 - Cambridge, Doncaster
  • 7 - Leyton Orient, Stevenage
  • 6 - Hartlepool, Luton, Newport, Plymouth, Yeovil
  • 4 - Barnet, Carlisle, Crewe, Mansfield, Morecambe
  • 3 - Exeter

Darren Ferguson (144)

  • 12 - Crewe, Leyton Orient, Stevenage, Wycombe
  • 10 - Barnet
  • 8 - Colchester, Crawley, Luton, Newport, Notts County, Plymouth
  • 7 - Carlisle, Yeovil
  • 6 - Mansfield
  • 5 - Accrington, Cheltenham
  • 4 - Grimsby
  • 3 - Portsmouth
  • 1 - Exeter

Darren Sarll (139)

  • 12 - Carlisle, Doncaster, Mansfield, Scunthorpe
  • 10 - Exeter, Hartlepool, Plymouth
  • 8 - Portsmouth
  • 7 - Barnet, Grimsby, Luton
  • 6 - Blackpool, Cambridge
  • 5 - Colchester, Crewe, Leyton Orient
  • 2 - Crawley, Yeovil
  • 1 - Notts County

Nathan Jones (121)

  • 10 - Yeovil
  • 8 - Hartlepool, Morecambe
  • 7 - Blackpool, Cheltenham, Crawley, Plymouth
  • 6 - Accrington, Colchester, Doncaster, Exeter, Grimsby, Notts County
  • 5 - Barnet, Stevenage
  • 4 - Leyton Orient, Portsmouth
  • 3 - Carlisle, Crewe, Newport
  • 2 - Cambridge, Mansfield

Gary Bowyer (89)

  • 8 - Carlisle, Crewe
  • 7 - Mansfield, Portsmouth
  • 6 - Stevenage
  • 5 - Cambridge, Doncaster, Notts County, Wycombe
  • 4 - Cheltenham, Colchester, Exeter, Newport
  • 3 - Accrington, Crawley, Grimsby, Leyton Orient
  • 2 - Barnet, Plymouth
  • 1 - Luton'

John Coleman (72)

  • 10 - Blackpool
  • 7 - Exeter, Morecambe
  • 6 - Cheltenham, Crewe, Leyton Orient
  • 5 - Newport, Portsmouth
  • 4 - Wycombe
  • 3 - Colchester, Doncaster, Mansfield, Plymouth
  • 2 - Luton
  • 1 - Crawley, Grimsby

Michael Flynn (61)

  • 12 - Barnet, Cambridge, Exeter
  • 8 - Blackpool
  • 5 - Crawley, Luton
  • 4 - Accrington
  • 2 - Colchester
  • 1 - Yeovil

Jim Bentley (44)

  • 12 - Accrington
  • 6 - Carlisle
  • 5 - Hartlepool, Mansfield
  • 4 - Blackpool, Luton, Stevenage
  • 2 - Doncaster, Portsmouth

Keith Curle (41)

  • 7 - Hartlepool
  • 5 - Exeter, Grimsby
  • 4 - Crawley, Notts County
  • 3 - Barnet, Wycombe
  • 2 - Blackpool, Cheltenham, Morecambe, Stevenage
  • 1 - Colchester, Mansfield

Gareth Ainsworth (39)

  • 6 - Morecambe, Portsmouth
  • 5 - Yeovil
  • 4 - Doncaster, Hartlepool
  • 3 - Blackpool, Cheltenham, Notts County
  • 2 - Newport
  • 1 - Accrington, Cambridge, Carlisle

Kevin Nolan (34)

  • 8 - Exeter
  • 6 - Wycombe
  • 5 - Morecambe, Plymouth
  • 4 - Cambridge
  • 3 - Hartlepool
  • 2 - Leyton Orient
  • 1 - Cheltenham

Steve Evans (20)

  • 4 - Yeovil
  • 3 - Luton, Morecambe
  • 2 - Carlisle, Crewe, Grimsby
  • 1 - Doncaster, Leyton Orient, Newport, Stevenage

Shaun Derry (12)

  • 4 - Plymouth
  • 3 - Yeovil
  • 2 - Wycombe
  • 1 - Barnet, Blackpool, Crewe

John McGreal (12)

  • 3 - Cambridge, Stevenage
  • 2 - Accrington, Notts County
  • 1 - Plymouth, Wycombe

The Panel

A huge thanks to all of our panelists - check out their pages below!

Accrington: Andrew Camm (@cammy_asfc)

Barnet: Tom Bodell (@TBBodell)

Blackpool: Glenn Bowley (@PastorBowley)

Cambridge: Dylan Tibbs (@dtotheytothel)

Carlisle: Jon Colman (@joncolman)

Colchester: Matty Hudson (@mattyhudson)

Cheltenham: James Brown (@JamesBrownCTFC)

Crawley: Matt Howlett (@MattHowlett3)

Crewe: Matt Owen (@mowen23)

Doncaster: Paul Goodwin (@paulgoodwinDFP)

Exeter: Damien Mills (@goal_media)

Grimsby: Too Good To Go Down (@TooGoodToGoDown)

Hartlepool: Nick Loughlin (@loughlinecho)

Leyton Orient: Lee Swallow (@LSwallow74)

Luton: Oliver Walker (@traderoli)

Mansfield: Sam Binch (@SamBinch)

Morecambe: James Hayes (@Jamesphayes1)

Newport: Andrew Penman (@AndrewPenman1)

Notts County: Leigh Curtis (@LeighCurtis_NP)

Plymouth: James Dart (@James_Dart)

Portsmouth: Talkbet (@Talkbet)

Stevenage: Greg Kett (@Greg_Kett)

Wycombe: Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor)

Yeovil: Kurtis West (@WestyYTFC)

Mike's Picks

12 points - Derek Adams

Recovering from the heartache of a Wembley defeat is never easy but Argyle bounced back in fine style and sustained their automatic promotion challenge much better this time around. Only goal difference denied them the title in the end but the best away record in the division bears testimony to Adams’ tactical prowess.

10 points - Paul Tisdale

Tisdale’s ability to conjure up a strategy that plays to the strengths of his most talented players was evident in a blistering run between November and February. Once Reuben Reid and David Wheeler had been nursed back to full fitness, Exeter climbed off the foot of the table to claim 51 points from 28 games when both players started.

8 points - Darren Ferguson

Doncaster will mostly be remembered for a limp finish but, in many ways, it only highlights the intensity with which Ferguson operated over the first 41 matches. Securing promotion with five games to spare is no mean feat and the respect with which Rovers understood the level and treated all of their opponents with equal respect in a tactical sense should be recognised.

7 points - Mike Flynn

Newport were 11 points adrift of safety when Flynn took charge in March but amassed 22 points from their final 13 games to avoid the drop in dramatic circumstances on the final day. Predictably, Graham Westley has since tried to take some of the credit but he never would have infused the sense of local pride the Flynn possessed to generate the spirit required.

6 points - Paul Cook

Their persistence paid off in the end but Portsmouth didn’t half make heavy weather of this division, given the amount of talent they possessed in all areas of the pitch. History will remember them as title winners, avid followers of the league will never forget that this was the ultimate back door job. The fans deserve it, nonetheless.

5 points - Kevin Nolan

On the evidence of Nolan’s managerial career to date, Notts County should be in the reckoning for promotion next season. In two fire-fighting tenures at Leyton Orient and now the Magpies, he has averaged 1.6 points per game, which is borderline play-off standard. Give him a summer to rebuild and a pre-season to drill his players, the bar should be set even higher.

4 points - Darren Sarll

Stevenage have been the division’s biggest surprise package but ultimately came up short of the play-offs after losing their 20-goal marksman Matt Godden for most of the run-in. Had Sarll been able to keep the Boro on course during that tricky period, he would certainly have finished further up the pecking order. There’s a solid platform to build on next season.

3 points - Nathan Jones

Luton finished the season with the fewest number of defeats (nine) but Jones needs to take a few more risks if he wants to be knocking on the door for awards at the end of the campaign. A whopping 17 draws cost the Hatters any chance of automatic promotion. The hope now is that their defensive resolve will reap full reward in the play-offs.

2 points - Jim Bentley

Life is never easy with one of the division’s lowest budgets, even less so when the players go unpaid at various points in the campaign. Yet Morecambe continue to defy the odds with the insatiable underdog spirit fostered by Bentley. Not only did the Shrimps steer well clear of relegation trouble (again), they beat Portsmouth, Blackpool and Plymouth in the process.

1 point - John Coleman

A dreadful start left them with too much to do, but Accrington could be ready for another promotion tilt next term - if they can keep hold of Shay McCartan. Each season, Coleman manages to unearth a rough diamond and the ex-Burnley youngster was the driving force behind a W12 D8 L2 record in the 22 games he started after Christmas.

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