The season may not be over as we await the results of various finals but the news that Alloa Athletic have appointed Paul Hartley, Jim McInally has left East Stirling and Derek Adams has returned to Ross County has taken more than a few by surprise.
Hartley at Alloa citing Paul Lambert as an influence certainly brings back the ideal of serving an apprenticeship as a manager. It means that being a top professional player qualifies you to be a fantastic first time coach worthy of an SPL managership is put firmly where it belongs… It’s imaginative and the Third Division should continue to be the place to go and see competitive football in the SFL next year.
Jim McInally’s departure was unexpected but perhaps not a shock. Since the cash dried up at East Stirling the opportunities to get onto the play offs disappeared. Then came the worst team in Scotland tag that they had managed to shrug off before this year fighting Clyde for and eventually winning! The squad is already being resigned so anyone coming in will have most of their budget sorted before they can wheel or deal. There are no sinister suggestions or explanations to come for his leaving the club but it will be interesting to see where he ends up. How much has his experience at East Stirling enhanced or damaged his reputation?
Someone whose reputation has not suffered from moving is Derek Adams. Rejoining Ross County must have seemed a great idea a few months back when Hibs were going through their sticky patch but now? Jimmy Calderwood has been likened to big Ron Atkinson in his turning up at troubled clubs and helping them out phase but was it ever really a long-term relationship? Not one that Calderwood had ruled out publicly but you can imagine Dingwall and the sun being far enough apart he would be tempted to keep a distance in the long-term.
Ross County can now be added to the mix of potential title players dependent upon Adams’ rebuilding during the close season. It is widely believed they over achieved the season before last so leaving when things started to look shaped like pear was a good idea. The following season the Staggies have another Cup Final, this time they win it so it wasn’t a completely disastrous season. Adams will have to match the achievements of the last two seasons to make his return a success.
So, with the 30 SFL clubs just got a weekend to savor who is left to make SFL1 and who gets into SFL2 the managerial posts look less like a recipe for employment longevity and more like an exercise in risk management. With the lack of finances available it may feel for some like fighting for deck chairs on the titanic than being the head of a commercial success. Mind you, as always there shall be few violins playing for those who do not make it!