Lee McCulloch may return as coach rather than manager

Lee McCulloch was replaced as Kilmarnock manager. Picture: Ross Brownlee/SNS
Lee McCulloch was replaced as Kilmarnock manager. Picture: Ross Brownlee/SNS
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Lee McCulloch insists he will learn to become a better manager as he strives to recover from being removed from his first permanent job just eight matches into the Premiership season.

However, he has admitted that he may have to return to a coaching role first and climb his way back up the ladder.

The manager’s office came early for McCulloch, who was caretaker of Kilmarnock from February after Lee Clark left for Bury, having also performed the role the previous year when Gary Locke left, before landing the job permanently in the summer. But no wins in the first eight league matches panicked the Rugby Park board who replaced him with Steve Clarke.

It was a chastening experience but McCulloch is not scared of taking charge of another club in the future.

Now he is planning on shadowing top UK managers to learn more about the business, while reflecting on what happened at Rugby Park.

McCulloch said: “I felt comfortable but I don’t know if I would go back in at that level. I don’t know if I would go into coaching or be a No 2 and take my time to get back up. I’m still sort of reflecting on what happened. I went straight into being assistant manager after finishing playing, then I was interim manager and then full-time manager.

“It did happen pretty quick over a two-year period. It was quite demanding but I still enjoyed it. I have arranged a couple of club visits so I am going to try and learn a bit more. I’m still only 39 so I want to learn as much as I can from other managers. I don’t want to name them but I’m going to mirror a few managers and see how they work.”

It was perhaps typical that Kilmarnock’s fortunes have improved under Clarke with highly creditable away draws at both Rangers and Celtic and a victory over Hearts at Murrayfield. However, McCulloch was able to see the fruits of his labours with the continuing improvement in players he had worked closely with.

He said: “To see the younger players flourish was the most satisfying – Adam Frizzell scoring the winner against Hearts and getting into the Scotland squad, Jordan Jones getting called up by Northern Ireland and Greg Taylor getting into the Under-21s. They are starting to hold down first-team places and getting people talking about them. I take great pride in that.”

McCulloch, meanwhile, believes Malky Mackay can make a compelling argument to be named Scotland manager if he secures a win over the Netherlands tomorrow.

He said: “It’s the perfect opportunity for Malky to show what he can do. Malky is a gentleman and a good manager obviously. It is the perfect chance for him to stamp his authority on the team.”

l Lee McCulloch was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is a proud sponsor of the Scotland national team.