Alex Smith calls for calm after managerial sackings

Scottish League Managers Association chairman Alex Smith. Picture: SNS
Scottish League Managers Association chairman Alex Smith. Picture: SNS
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Alex Smith, the chairman of the Scottish League Managers Association, has called for a Christmas truce for managers after a fortnight of upheaval across the SPFL.

A bleak midwinter for managers began when Tommy Craig exited St Mirren on 9 December and, last week, there were changes at Livingston, Dunfermline and Ayr. Last night Ally McCoist continued the trend when he was placed on gardening leave by Rangers.

Smith said: “The last couple of weeks have been really sad with the number of managers losing their jobs. It has happened at both ends of managerial careers, with experienced guys in Tommy, Jim Jefferies and John McGlynn going, as well as Mark Roberts, who is just starting out in his management career. The game has to slow down and give people a chance.

“Change opens doors for other people but it is hard for young coaches to operate in an environment where you are not allowed to sustain and develop. In Jim’s case, he is probably kicking himself as he could have retired at the end of last season. He opted to stay and now finds himself moved on. I know John Potter and it is a good opportunity for him. It does keep some continuity at the club and I will support him any way I can if he needs it.”

As for Craig and McGlynn, Smith, who is also Falkirk’s technical director, said: “Turning managers over all the time is not good and, if you look at St Mirren, that will be three managers in a year and a half.


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“They have a good youth set-up, but it affects young players when there are managerial changes at the top. They need stability to help them grow and that does not come from chopping and changing.

“John McGlynn got just over a year at Livingston. When he got the job, someone at Livingston said that they were delighted to have him on board, he could be their Sir Alex Ferguson and be there for 26 years. In fact, if he wanted a 26-year contract he only needed to ask.

“Here we are, a lot less than 26 months later, and he is out of work. He will survive as he is good at his job but he will be hurt, even it was a political decision to get rid of him.

“That club is in turmoil and the manager’s reputation is getting thrown around like an old rag. And then of course there is the Ally McCoist situation. I stuck up for Ally on Sky Sports this week and I will continue to stick up for him.

“Everything he knew at Rangers has crashed around him and he has been doing a bit of other people’s jobs as well as his own for the past three years.

“At every press conference he has been asked a political question that has been loaded with dynamite and it has been hard for him.”

Smith reckons that clubs need to take a breath and give managers time to flourish. “It is simply not right what has been happening recently,” he said. “You lose a couple of games and people are coming after you. You have people on radio stations saying that managers should be sacked and they can talk quickly enough about it. The blame culture is too strong.

“It is a results business but there is more to being a manager than the last couple of results. There is little continuity in management now, there is no job security and that is not good for anyone. Dick Campbell is the longest-serving manager at six and a half years at Forfar and his side are joint leaders of League 1. That is not by coincidence.”

Despite all the negatives, there are a queue of candidates for any vacant job. Smith added: “People are desperate to get back in and I can understand that as being a football manager can be a great job in the right environment. The environment at the moment, however, is not right.”

One of the other aspects of the football management environment that is troubling Smith has been the move away from recruiting outstanding candidates from the lower leagues in Scotland.

Smith explained: “Another thing I cannot understand is that Stephen Aitken is doing really well at Stranraer and clubs higher up are not looking at him.

“We used to develop managers in the lower leagues and have the confidence to take them higher but he does not seem to be a big enough name for some clubs.

“He deserves better. Hopefully clubs will take some time and think about things over Christmas.”


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