BLACKBURN Rovers’ newly crowned player of the year Tom Cairney believes boss Gary Bowyer would have been given the credit he deserves if he was a bigger name.
In his first full season as a senior manager Bowyer has built a new team and transformed Rovers from relegation strugglers to play-off hopefuls.
Cairney is full of admiration for the job the 42-year-old has done.
But the talented midfielder reckons his understated boss is worthy of wider praise.
“I really do think that if a big-name manager had done the job he has done here he’d be getting more praise than what the manager is getting at the minute,” said Cairney, who has proved to be one of Bowyer’s best buys.
“I feel like he deserves a lot of credit – and so do his staff.
“They have brought so many good people to the club and, from when I first arrived in the summer to now, it’s a totally different team and set-up.
“So I think the manager deserves a lot of credit.
“He has helped Blackburn turn the corner.
“I feel the fans are starting to believe and I feel they can see we have done everything we can to win matches and get into the play-offs.”
Rovers missed out on the top six by two points despite winning their final game of the campaign at home to play-off bound Wigan Athletic 4-3 on Saturday.
The victory stretched Bowyer’s side’s unbeaten run to 12 matches and meant they finished the season having suffered just four defeats in 23 Championship games in 2014.
Cairney, who completed a £600,000 permanent move from Hull City in January after an impressive initial loan spell, was absent for three of those losses with an ankle injury.
And he said: “It was tough watching but when I sat in the dressing room I knew we had the quality.
“We’ve certainly shown that in these last 12 matches and we all can’t wait for pre-season now. Roll on July.”
After picking up his player of the year award Cairney scored a dazzling solo goal that set Rovers on their way to a third straight win for the first time since January 2008.
After picking up possession midway through the Wigan half the 23-year-old danced past two would-be challengers before stroking a cool finish in off the post with his unfavoured right foot.
It was Cairney’s sixth goal of the campaign and one which would have been in the running for Rovers’ goal of the season – Jason Lowe’s stunning 25-yard strike at home to Middlesbrough in November – had it beaten the deadline.
“I think I need to go and get Lowey as I need to get his trophy off him,” joked Cairney.
“It was a great goal to score but I need to get as close as possible to the goal to score when it’s my right foot, so I had to keep going.”