Malky Mackay seeks help of Brendan Rodgers with key plan

Malky Mackay has asked Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers to help him implement the Scottish FA's 'Project Brave' youth development policy.

Malky Malkay is looking for the backing of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (pictured). Picture: SNS
Malky Malkay is looking for the backing of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (pictured). Picture: SNS

Recently appointed SFA performance director Mackay has already received a pledge of active support from Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes as he seeks widespread backing for the radical plans.

Project Brave includes the restructuring of Scottish football’s academy system, with the current 29 academies reduced to 16, a switch to summer football for the 11-16 age groups, the return of a reserve league to replace the present under-20 set-up and the introduction of a coach-mentoring programme.

Mackay has asked Dick Bate, the former elite coaching manager at the English FA, to help him set up the mentoring system, while a full-time head of coaching at the SFA will eventually be recruited.

Since his appointment as Brian McClair’s successor in the performance director role in December, Mackay has been touring the country to outline the Project Brave ideology which met with some initial scepticism. The 45-year-old former Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan manager insists his presentations have been well received.

He now hopes to strengthen Project Brave’s credibility by adding the endorsement of Celtic boss Rodgers under whom he previously worked at Watford. Mackay laid out his vision to Rodgers at a dinner meeting last night.

“I am absolutely asking him to help and that is something that is ongoing,” said Mackay. “You need your top managers and top people in the country buying into this.

“Project Brave is the performance strategy for Scottish football, not just the Scottish Football Association. It is for the betterment of Scottish football. I am asking for everyone’s help and for everyone to be involved. It is why I have gone to 12 clubs so far and why I am going to get round all 42.

“I have to go to every club and ask them to help and say that we are sitting next to them, not sitting across from them. In terms of the Premiership managers, I will be asking for their help. Brendan is somebody I know pretty well from my time at Watford and down in England.

“Derek McInnes is another one who has already offered help in terms of the various age-level international teams, talking to the players, taking a training session. These are guys who are absolutely at the sharp end, guys who have been there, seen it and done it already. I am going to talk to them and have already spoken to many of them.

“I was down seeing Sir Alex Ferguson last Friday and I plan to talk to Walter Smith, Craig Brown and Andy Roxburgh as well concerning their thoughts going forward and, at times, coming over and being involved in something, whether it be going to one of the international camps, whether it be talking to the coaches, whatever it may be. We need as many helpers as possible involved in this to try and make things better.

“If we talk about this as being for the betterment of the young Scottish player, nobody will argue against that. I have also been to see Neil Lennon at Hibs, while Craig Levein works along the corridor from me (at Oriam).

“Everybody is saying the same thing – they are all desperate for our young Scottish players to be better.”