DEREK McINNES took considerable satisfaction from marking his own contribution to the pageant by donning the dicky bow and shiny shoes, but he believes there is no need to dress up what he regards as a hugely positive campaign for Scottish football.

Hearts plunging into the SPFL Championship as a direct result of a points penalty inflicted upon them because of administration and Rangers beginning to look as though they might go bust for a second time are stories that have commanded big headlines and no doubt influenced the outsider's view on the overall health of our national game.

However, McInnes sees strong growth elsewhere in our midst. He believes the top six clubs in the Premiership are shining examples of what can be achieved with a solid management structure and believes his Aberdeen team has progressed more spectacularly than most.

Loading article content

McInnes dolled himself up in his Sunday best at the weekend to accept his Cheque Centre/PFA Scotland Manager of the Year award - earned thanks to bringing a first trophy back to Pittodrie in 19 years and keeping them in pole position to finish second in the league - and admits it was a delight to turn up at one of football's most prestigious occasions and see Aberdeen receive so much welcome attention.

"I went to the PFA dinner last year and presented a trophy," he recalled. "I was at another awards dinner where Aberdeen barely got a mention for anything. I think Niall McGinn was the only one who got any sort of recognition.

"That didn't sit well with me. Everyone else was getting plaudits and rightly so, but we were nowhere near it, so it's nice I have two players in the Team of the Year [Mark Reynolds and Peter Pawlett], a player scoring the Goal of the Season [Jonny Hayes] and me picking up an award too. What we have to do now is improve for next season. I still think there's a lot more to come from us.

"We want to improve our points tally next season, bring European football back and try to win another cup. I can understand a lot of the perceptions that Hearts and Hibs have struggled, Hearts off the pitch and Hibs on it.

"Those are two big clubs. Rangers are struggling, too, but I need to say that I think there has been real improvement in the clubs in the top six this season.

"St Johnstone are a good story, Inverness Caley Thistle are there and thereabouts and Dundee United have been really exciting.

"Stuart McCall has had difficulties replacing players at Motherwell and they're another good story.

"Celtic's league form has improved quite substantially as you can see that from their points tally, but I don't think anyone's improved more than we have."

McInnes is keen to detail his own debt to assistant manager Tony Docherty, who also worked with him at St Johnstone and Bristol City, when reflecting on such a pleasing first full season in Aberdeen. "His input is invaluable to me," said McInnes. "There's not a decision gets made without me consulting him. I think my award is as much for him as it is for myself.

"There's got to be someone makes the decisions and we don't always agree, but, when I first became a manager, he was one person I thought I could work well with. We were a similar age and he had a real coaching background.

"Doc's very close to the players. He has to be and he's allowed to be. He's good at managing people and he knows his stuff."