Former Hibs captain Ian Murray was appointed as player-manager of First Division Dumbarton yesterday and three former Easter Road bosses can expect their phones to be busy as the rookie gets to grips with his new job.
The 31-year-old, capped six times by Scotland, returned from coaching in America on Tuesday to complete discussions with the Dumbarton board.
He said: “There are a lot of guys I played against becoming managers like Paul Hartley, Paul Sheerin, Colin Cameron and Steven Pressley and to get a chance in the First Division is an excellent opportunity for me.
“The aim has to be to keep the club in the First Division. It will be a tough ask as the league table does not lie. It is a part-time team in a full-time league but I am not daunted by the challenge”.
After two stints as a Hibs player, and nearly 300 games, Murray will have no hesitation in using his green and white connections. He explained: “I have tried to learn something from all the managers I worked with but the biggest influence was Alex McLeish. I was just a youngster at Hibs and he gave me my debut and then took me to Rangers.
“I also worked closely with Colin Calderwood and remain in contact with him as I do with Mixu Paatelainen. Donald Park was my youth manager at Easter Road and the assistant there as well so I have a good network of people that I can phone up and speak to and ask for advice.”
Of all his Hibs connections McLeish is the one Murray will probably turn to most. He said: “I will definitely speak to Alex as it was a real compliment when he went back to Hibs to take me to Ibrox. I know that they will be there for me, although I know Mixu is hard to get hold of in his Finnish national team job.
“I will be my own man but I am sure Alex will be happy for me to get in touch as he still gives Sir Alex Ferguson a ring.”
One manager that Murray will not be getting in touch with is his former boss at Norwich City, Glenn Roeder. Although Murray does not recognise it, it sounds like he also provided lessons for the new Dumbarton boss.
Murray had an unhappy spell at Carrow Road in between leaving Rangers and returning to Hibs. He said: “Glenn made me feel like walking off the park and he is the one manager I probably never learned anything from. It was not just me that did not want to play for him. As soon as your players do not want to play for you, you are in trouble.
“Roeder accused me of not trying and that is the one thing I have always done. He never said it straight to my face either and, in general, he was an angry guy but there is no point in having any bad feelings as that is the way he wanted to go.”
Murray added: “Everyone says things in the heat of the moment and I have seen top managers do that and then apologise a couple of days later and that keeps the dressing room on board. As soon as you lose the dressing room you are finished.
“On the other side, Colin Calderwood was a great guy and we never played well enough for him and he got the sack, so management is certainly not easy.”
Murray left Hibs in the summer after a testimonial and, after failing to win a contract at a Dunfermline, he played one game as a trialist for Brechin before heading west to the States.
“I was out there coaching kids and only came back to Scotland on Tuesday. I was here with the Dumbarton people yesterday. We had some contact a few weeks ago and then it went quiet and then last week we started talking again.
“I was looking to get back into football in Scotland and had noticed a couple of clubs were looking for managers so my agent took things up initially.”
It will be a while until Dumbarton fans see Murray combining his roles as he explained: “I have the playing side of things as well but I am a few weeks away from playing. I could run 10k but I am not match sharp enough to play at the moment.”
Murray has been preparing himself for management, although his plans were interrupted by Hearts. He explained: “I completed my UEFA B course last year and will go for the A one next year. I was going to do it this summer but it was two days after the Hearts and Hibs cup final and I was lying low.
“I have done some coaching at Coldstream and then Spartans and took Hibs under-17s for training. Getting into management is something I have wanted to do.
Assistant manager Jack Ross is staying on after a spell as interim manager, with Murray set to lean heavily on him. Murray said: “I do not know a lot about the players but Jack knows them well and he will take the team for the game at Dunfermline on Saturday. Although, ironically, I do know a bit about them after my spell as a player before I went to America. I know Jim Jefferies well too and his assistant Gerry McCabe used to be at Dumbarton, so it is quite an ironic meeting.”
Murray went off to meet his players last night and said: “The Scottish Cup tie with Hamilton next Saturday will be my first game in charge. I am very keen to get going.”