A prophet abroad

Date: 17th May 2021


The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

The changes at Queen’s Park that have seen Ray McKinnon move on from his post, after winning the league got people’s attention. It was almost as noticeable as the new contract that Hamilton Academical put on the table for Brian Rice. Given their relegation it was the opposite movement for their club and an opposite direction.

Ross County may well be contemplating what to do with John Hughes and Kilmarnock thought they had a proven winner in Tommy Wright. Wright was unable to prove it in the run in. of course, and Celtic should announce their new manager imminently. Bet you it might be Eddie Howe.

Whilst we are contemplating yet another round of managerial summer movements, it would appear that a few of the Scottish exports managerially are attracting notable attention down south. It may be some time since the likes of Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson and Bill Shankly made a massive impression on the English game but the names of Derek Adams and Alex Neil keep getting mentioned when there are opportunities opening up for new managers in the English Leagues.

The latest is Bradford City where Adams has been mentioned more than once. He is currently managing Morecombe in their playoff semi-final that could see Adams celebrate his fourth promotion. Having had two up north as he took Ross County from Division Two and then into the Premier League, he has also managed one with Plymouth Argyle. Such a record was certainly going to attract the attention of any team that was once a force to be reckoned with and is now somewhere in a place called the doldrums. He has a proven track record in getting teams out of that place and sending them onto better places with limited budgets. What is not to like in the current climate?

There have clearly been times in his career when things have not quite gone so smoothly and that has included spells at both clubs where his win rate was questioned but overall, his ability to achieve can shine brighter than his personality in interviews. Often dour and quite sullen he is not the epitome of a “character”, though it could be argued that as this is his character, at least publicly, he is exactly that.

For both he and Neil and for many a manager currently in England of Scottish heritage, there is little by way of opportunity in the land of their birth. You can hear the derision if either were to be considered as managerial candidates for either Celtic or Rangers, basically as they have managed teams that sit below the level at which the supporters would deem acceptable. Mind you once you have had Brendan Rodgers and Steve Gerrard, then accepting somebody who has not managed in the English Premiership or at least played there would be tough to take, I suppose.

Hibs, Ross County and Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have at least brought in those who have a familiar Scottish twang to their voices. If, as is expected, Celtic shall deliver us a former English legend of a less than salubrious team, as their new coach, then the top two, Saint Mirren and, if they survive, Kilmarnock, shall have managers without such a burr in the top-flight.

Having such a nationalistic view of who manages our top-flight clubs is not exactly healthy, but it does do well to remember that Scottish managers and their success makes us quite rich. Each will, as fans are fickle, have their own measures of success but overall, we at least have employed in our top-flight teams the types of manager who know our game, understand its importance and can provide us with sufficient debate should Mr. Clarke at Hampden decide to depart onto pastures new.

With the lower leagues boasting some notable coaches who have proven their abilities at higher levels like Jack Ross, Paul Hartley, Danny Lennon and David Hopkin, being shored up by the likes of

very knowledgeable and experienced heads like Jim Duffy and Jim McInally, it could be argued the Scottish game has the lower league equivalent of a Busby, a Ferguson or a Shankly.

Fans will judge each on their merits and results on a weekly basis, but the new model being proposed at Queen’s Park appears to be interesting and will have those who shall forensically follow it to see if it provides different results for League One. The interesting thing for me is, if not Ray McKinnon, then who? If not one manager/coach, then what does Leeanne Dempster have in mind?

Along with the prominence of some names down south for the jobs of taking teams of note back to places of note these are as they may say in China, interesting times. Is this a golden age for the likes of the coaches and managers of Scotland? Let fans be the judge of that – and they shall be, whether anyone likes it or not.

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