STEVE Clarke, who has been named Scottish Football Writers’ Association Manager of the Year in association for William Hill, sought assurances from Kilmarnock that he wouldn't be sacked if the Rugby Park club was relegated this season before he was appointed in October.

Clarke, the former Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool assistant and West Brom and Reading head coach, has led the Ayrshire club to victories over Celtic and Rangers and fifth-place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The former Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool assistant and West Brom and Reading manager was linked with the Rangers job before Steven Gerrard was appointed and has been tipped to return to England.

However, the 54-year-old has admitted that he had been concerned that he would lose his job if the Ayrshire club, rooted to bottom spot in the top flight when he was interviewed last year, had dropped down to the Championship.

“That was part of the initial discussions,” he said. “Basically, what I was asking was if it went lower would they stick by me. And I would have stuck by them. We had spoken and I said if it comes to that, if it goes that low then we would stick together to where we know it should be.

“Thankfully it didn’t come to that. The players responded really well. I wouldn’t be speaking about this award if it wasn’t for my players. Without good players there are no good managers.”

Meanwhile, Clarke has admitted that Kilmarnock could abandon their artificial playing surface and revert to a grass pitch in the near future.

"It was put down for a reason, I think financial,” he said. “It has served its purpose. There's a commitment to keep it for next season, we wouldn't have time to dig it up and put a new one down now, but there are plans in place.

“With Project Brave, the club have to find money to get a training centre, they would look to put down an artificial pitch at the training centre, which would mean this pitch at the stadium could revert back to grass.

“There's no point complaining about it, it's there and we have to deal with it. When I came in, there was a lot of people around the place that said we couldn't play or win on the pitch, but you find a way. If you're good and determined, you find a way and we found a way to play on it this year.”

Meanwhile, Clarke has admitted that appointing Alex Dyer as his assistant has been key to the success that Kilmarnock have enjoyed under him in the 2017/18 campaign.

"Alex was my best signing,” he said. “He’s quite reserved and likes to keep himself to himself, but he's the complete opposite of me. He's great company, funny, the lads love him, he's got good banter.

“He's a perfect assistant and has been a great foil for me because I can be a little bit serious at times, a little bit dour if I need to be, a little bit crabbit, I've got all those traits off my parents. We are a good combination and a good mix.”