WHEN Kris Boyd enters the room, he should do so to a well-known Paul Weller tune. He really is the changing man, whose time has come again at the age of 30.
The extent to which he is putting into practice what he has learned in recent years is underlined by the reason why he was late for a press conference this week to reveal the four players competing to be the Premiership PFA Scotland player of the year.
When we cynics in the press might once have put such tardiness down to Boyd having an urgent appointment with a packet of Monster Munch, it was in fact because he was coaching the under-17s at Kilmarnock, and the session ran on.
Paul Le Guen, the former permanently exasperated Rangers manager, is not the only one who might express astonishment at such a revelation. However, anyone who has been following Scottish football this season will know all about Boyd’s recent development as a person as well as a player. He has become a valued and respected commentator on the game both on television and radio. About the only thing that has stayed the same is his deadly accuracy in front of goal. His haul of 19, nearly half of Kilmarnock’s current league total of 41 goals, has led to him being nominated by his fellow professionals.
He was last named on the shortlist in 2010, when with Rangers. A lot has happened since then, including a spell in the United States, when his scoring prowess briefly deserted him. Boyd also endured a mixed time in England with Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, and spent an unhappy five-month spell in Turkey, when he was never paid and hardly played. In short, he has learned a lot.
Perhaps his most enlightening time arrived in the States, where he played with Portland Timbers. Seven goals in 26 appearances is not classic Boyd form but he was more embarrassed by his poor communication skills.
He puts this down to the paranoia that exists within the Old Firm. This results in caginess on the part of players often acting on the advice of the clubs’ media departments, who fear an injudicious comment making back, or even front, page news.
“At Rangers and Celtic especially, you don’t really get the chance to say what you want to say because it grows arms and legs,” said Boyd. “You are put up in front of a media group and told what you are doing. Everything is structured. I don’t agree with it because I think it becomes an ‘us v them’ situation, and it does not make a good togetherness.
“At the end of the day we are working together, we need you and you need us. For football players there should be a relationship with the newspapers because it is a big part of the culture now.
“I think the penny dropped when I went to America,” he added. “I saw young kids of 17 or 18 all training and then going to do interviews and they are speaking well.
“You have me who will walk past everybody and not say a word, and then you have the young kids who will stand up and do a ten or 15-minute speech, and you think: what’s the difference here? But it’s just the way they are brought up. Over here, with the Old Firm especially, there is caginess. You are protected, but I don’t think it is a good protection.”
Now he is happy to speak his mind. He is brutally honest when summing up the quality of players in Scotland – often they are not as good as they think they are, or indeed made out to be.
“You’re talking to players who are playing in Scotland,” he said. “We’re here for a reason. We might be in the top league in Scotland but we’re not top players. A lot of the time at the Old Firm clubs, you might not perform to a level, but because you’re in a small country, Rangers and Celtic get over-hyped. But any time we’ve gone into Europe, we’ve found that out, that they’re not as good as what they expect to be. For the players in Scotland, nine times out of ten they’re not as good as what they think they are.”
Given some of his comments, it is possible to wonder whether Boyd really is destined for a return to Rangers, as has been rumoured. He has rediscovered his form at Kilmarnock and he remains grateful to his first club for handing him the chance to prove himself again, while also giving him an opportunity to coach. His contract is up at the end of the season and not even Boyd knows what is next in this remarkable journey.
“I honestly do not know what is going to happen,” he said. “I am not going to sit here and tell lies. I have not spoken to anyone and my representatives have not spoken to anyone.”
“The big thing for me is to concentrate on Kilmarnock getting points – we have a massive game against Partick Thistle. We need to pull ourselves away from that play-off position.
“We don’t want to be involved with it and with the players we have, we should really pull ourselves away. But that will only be done with hard work.”
Yes, someone once perceived as a sullen, lazy goal-hanger truly has changed.