Lee McCulloch has refused to rule out becoming the next manager of Kilmarnock. We know this because, when asked several times yesterday whether he wanted the job vacated by Lee Clark on Wednesday, he took pains not to say that he didn’t.
That was in marked contrast to his demeanour 13 months ago when he was appointed interim manager following the resignation of Gary Locke. Back then, he made no bones about his lack of interest in being the main man but,things have now changed.
“I’m not going to say I’m not interested in the job,” said McCulloch. “That would be wrong but I’m not going to say anything else.
“The most important thing is to take training this week ahead of our game against an Aberdeen team that’s just scored seven goals [against Motherwell].
“It’s a great chance for the players to go out and show everybody how good they are live on TV. You can’t beat playing in those games.”
As he drove south to take up his new job with League One strugglers Bury, Clark, pictured right,expressed the opinion that appointing McCulloch would guarantee the Ayrshire club a smooth transition and that he could not imagine a more suitable successor.
“It’s great that he thinks I’m the best man for the job,” said the 38-year-old, who will take charge of the team for Aberdeen’s visit on Sunday. “I learned so much from him. He’s a great character – a man’s man – but he also knew the game.
“He probably had a different management style from the previous ones I played under but I took a lot from that and I’d like to thank him for his comments.”
Clark brought 25 players into Rugby Park during his year in charge at Rugby Park but argued that Kilmarnock could reduce the mayhem managerial changes often generate by allowing McCulloch to pick up the baton.
“The club would probably benefit from a bit of stability, a bit of continuity,” McCulloch added.
“They would benefit from that in the dressing room as well because of the amount of changes there have been in the past two windows.
“I’m not being negative at all. I just feel that some continuity could be beneficial.”
Of course, there is mayhem and there is mayhem. Five years ago, McCulloch was the club captain when Rangers descended first into administration and then liquidation; managing Kilmarnock, one assumes, would be a breeze compared to what he dealt with then. Not that he sees himself as a manager just yet, you understand.
“I’ve only been on this side of the fence for a year and a half now,” he said. “I’ve been the captain of a big club going through a bit of turmoil and had to help with things off the pitch with players and so on.
“But, outwith that, I helped the manager with different things and I learned from that experience and, in the last 18 months, I’ve done my best to learn more.
“I’m a young coach looking at the likes of Derek McInnes and other managers like Alan Archibald and Paul Hartley. I want to learn from them. That’s how I was as a player and it’s the way I will always be.”
McCulloch, who also played in the English Premier League with Wigan Athletic, has plenty of experience as a player but appointing a rookie manager is always a risk. That would not deter him from accepting the job if it were to be offered, though.
“Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, either in management or as a player,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m about to do that but I’m not saying I’m not either. I really don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s the truth.
“I know there are people going: ‘He’s desperate for the job’ and some are saying: ‘He should get it’ while others are saying: ‘He shouldn’t get near it’ but the most important thing is the club.
”They need to get stability. It’s not about Lee McCulloch. It’s not about anything else; it’s the club and the board making the right appointment for the club and the fans.”