Angelo Alessio, board not holding nerve, underachievement: Kilmarnock have sleepwalked into second tier

As Kilmarnock are now aware, it takes a long while to become an established top-flight club and a short time to lose this precious status.

Kilmarnock will be playing in the Championship next season.

Footage of Kyle Lafferty trying to placate fans behind a tall steel fence stands in very marked contrast to the well-viewed video of Steve Clarke waving “bye bye” to Rangers fans after Kilmarnock sealed third place in the Premiership just over two years ago.

That was the high point of the club's 28 year-stay. Instead of building on this achievement – and Clarke’s almost immediate departure for the Scotland post hardly helped to this end – they have unravelled at an alarming rate.

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Never mind the Championship, Kilmarnock have now been left with barely enough players to enter a tournament at the local Powerleague.

Five players remain under contract. There is a huge rebuild now due. Manager Tommy Wright has been supported by the club’s board.

A message was swiftly relayed to supporters yesterday in response to the scenes that unfolded on Monday night involving severely disaffected fans.

“It's really important that we have confidence in the manager,” said director Cathy Jamieson. “He [Wright] knows what he wants to do, he has a vision for the way forward and as a board we need to back him in that.”

The churn of managers has not helped to bring any sort of long-term planning to the club. On reflection, Angelo Alessio’s tenure now looks like an even stranger interlude between Clarke and Alex Dyer. What was the thinking there? The Kilmarnock board made an imaginative appointment and then appeared to lose their nerve.

Dyer seemed to be fighting a losing battle for much of his own time in charge. When Wright came in, it seemed a good fit. He mentioned 17 players were coming out of contract and how that excited him. “I like a re-build,” he grinned. “I re-built two squads in my time at St Johnstone.”

But these re-builds did not take place in the Championship. It will now be a lot harder to attract players. Kilmarnock have sleepwalked into the second tier. It seems utterly needless.

Gary Dicker, the club skipper, had his exit confirmed on Tuesday evening. While he did not play on Monday night after picking up an injury in the first leg against Dundee, to his credit was still prepared to face reporters.

He was once the beating heart of a side that now looks rudderless. Dicker attempted to assess a collapse that means a club that has left a club that has been a watchword for stability floundering. There are thirty-year-olds who have never known anything other than Kilmarnock as a top-flight side. This is a significant departure from Scotland's top table – the biggest since Dundee United five years ago.

“It’s happened to bigger and better clubs,” reflected Dicker. “That’s how quick life can change, but it’s also football as you’ve seen in the past year. Everything can change in a heart-beat.

“The minute you think you’re alright, that’s the minute you start falling.”

Kilmarnock are now waking up to a new reality of lower-league football.

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