After parting company with long-serving manager Jim Jefferies, Kilmarnock now face the task of selecting their new manager to guarantee their safety in the Scottish Premier League. The Musselburgh-born 59 year old spent 8 years in Ayrshire with a shoe-string budget for so long. In his time at Rugby Park, Jefferies led Kilmarnock to 3 top-six finishes, finishing fourth in his first year in charge. He couldn’t bring silverware to the cash-strapped club but took Kilmarnock to the CIS Cup Final in 2007 when they were turned over by Hibs in the final.
Jefferies departs Kilmarnock after stormy relationship with chairman
The tension between chairman Michael Johnston and Jefferies was building for a number of months but Jefferies’ departure was facilitated by Kevin Kyle’s refusal to comment on his manager’s tactics to Johnston in a meeting between player and chairman last week. Kyle’s public criticism of the club because they didn’t have a full time doctor, Gary Locke being rejected as a coach by the chairman and the overall position of the club was enough to push Jefferies to the limit and he leaves a job that has earned him masses of respect which put him in the hat for the vacant Scotland job a month or so ago. Assistant manager Billy Brown will also depart his role at Rugby Park, and should join Jefferies in his next role which could be very soon with the Dundee United job and full-time Motherwell job still available.
McLean in his Kilmarnock playing days
In the next few days, Kilmarnock are set to confirm that Scotland Under-17s coach Tommy McLean will be their interim manager for the near future. McLean, 62 made nearly 220 appearances for Kilmarnock in a 7 year-spell as a player between 1964 and 1971. The former player has a wealth of managerial experience since 1983 where he started out at Greenock Morton before spells at Motherwell, Hearts, Raith Rovers and Dundee United. Tensions are running high at Rugby Park with Supporters Groups slamming the chairman for his actions in “forcing” Jefferies out of the job that will be taken up by McLean. Johnston confirmed today that Kilmarnock will be on the verge of receiving a £200,000 sum that could be crucial for Kilmarnock who are £9m in debt and rarely fill their reasonably-sized ground, not even for the visit of Rangers and Celtic.
With McLean taking the job possibly until the end of the current season, the position will then be re-opened and many candidates should express an interest in the job. According to fans forums, “If the club has any ambition, then they should be looking for a better manager”, Jimmy Calderwood is currently job-hunting after leaving Aberdeen in the summer and after spending a few months visiting top European facilities including Manchester United, AC Milan and Real Madrid he can bring experience and creative ideas to Rugby Park. As a keen admirer, John Collins is someone I would like to see get the job as he has an admirable footballing philosophy that he used successfully at Hibs producing some superb young Scottish talent that Kilmarnock could really do with in this current financial environment. A few other names in the hat are former Celtic and Livingston manager Davie Hay, Rangers first-team coach Iain Durrant, former Dundee manager Jim Duffy and current Uganda boss Bobby Williamson.
Durrant, first-team coach at Rangers, was a Killie fans favourite
With a lack of finances and a possible frosty relationship with the current Kilmarnock chairman, this job might rule out several “young” managers who don’t have the wealth of experience like Calderwood, Hay and Williamson. It is a certainty though that Kilmarnock need a new leader that will demand and deserve the same respect that Jim Jefferies gained in his successful time at Kilmarnock and he will without doubt a tough example to follow.