FOR David Weir, the path to his successful and lengthy playing career began in the United States. As he looks to recover from the painfully short-lived experience of his first managerial job, Weir has revealed he would consider another Atlantic crossing if the opportunity arose.
Back in Scotland this week, where he hopes to take in the national team’s friendly against the USA at Hampden on Friday night, the 43-year-old admits his feelings remain raw after his sacking by Sheffield United last month after just 13 games in charge of the club.
While Weir maintains he was not given a “fair crack of the whip” at Bramall Lane, his record of just one win during his tenure may not have other clubs beating a path to his door when vacancies arise.
It is perhaps why the former Falkirk, Hearts, Everton and Rangers defender is willing to extend his horizons again, in the enterprising manner he did as a young man when he took a playing scholarship at the University of Evansville in Indiana. Weir remains a fan of both the American lifestyle and their attitude to a sport which continues to grow in strength and stature across the country.
“I’d definitely go back to America,” said Weir. “If the right opportunity came up, I’d go tomorrow. I’ve been travelling since I was 17, when I went to America to play. It’s a big world out there and if you limit yourself to ten minutes from your door, then you’re going to be very limited in what you can do. It wasn’t a hard decision for me back then. It felt right and I went for it. In football you don’t always get it right, but it was the right thing at the right time for me. It was tough initially, because it was so far from home and I got a little homesick, but looking back now it was a great experience.
“Even then, the national team was a big thing for the Americans, even though soccer is not their number one sport. They really cared about the national team. I was involved at college level, which was really good, but there was not much in-between at that time. There was no professional league or full-time league and that’s the reason I came back to Scotland.
“If they’d had an outdoor league, I would have stayed out there to play, but they only had an indoor league at that time. That wasn’t the same so I came home to be a professional footballer. But now it’s a different kettle of fish. The MLS is expanding and the leagues below have expanded. It’s already a really good league and it will get even better. It has the potential to be one of the best leagues in the world one day.
“The college game is good and the international team is doing really well. All the MLS sides have academies. They are doing it right over there. Americans being Americans, they are doing it properly and it will continue to expand and develop.”
Weir’s own development as a coach is currently on hold and he revealed the manner of his departure from Sheffield United briefly made him question whether he still wished to pursue a managerial career.
“If I’m being honest, it put me off a bit initially,” he said. “It hurt and is still a bit raw now. It’s a hard job and any manager will tell you that, it’s time consuming, it’s difficult and a lot of the time things are outwith your control.
“But once you get time to reflect and look at it and you think there’s not a great deal more you could have done to make it a success. So I’m ready to go again.
“The goalposts changed in the time I was at Sheffield United, the owners changed and different things changed and it became a different job. So it is frustrating when you look back, but it’s happened and you move on. I learned a lot and I’ll be better for it.
“You realise it’s about results, that’s all that matters. You can dress it up however you want, you can talk about this and talk about that and getting a bit of time, but you don’t. If you’re not getting results then you’re under pressure straight away. I’m clearly biased, but I don’t think ten league games is enough time for any manager.
“I’m not in a rush to jump into something that’s not right again and have a similar sort of experience. I’d rather get the right thing and something where I’ve got a chance to make a success of it.”
Weir gave up a role on the coaching staff at Everton to become Sheffield United boss but insists he still has no qualms about that decision.
“It was the right time to leave Everton,” he added. “I’d done 18 months and a lot of things had changed there, the manager changed and David Moyes left. I don’t regret it, you make your choices at that time and you think it’s the right thing at that time. You can’t afford to have regrets. You can’t change the past, you can only affect the future.”
Weir, meanwhile, keeps an eye on events at Ibrox and added he is weary of the ongoing off the field unrest at the club he supported as a boy and then served with distinction.
“I don’t know if anyone really knows what’s going to come next at Rangers. They’ve been dragged through the mud for so long that nothing surprises you.”