Barry Ferguson is ready to make his return to football management with Lowland League leaders Kelty Hearts after insisting he has been “blown away” by the structure, set-up and ambition of the Fife club.
The former Rangers and Scotland captain believes it is the perfect opportunity to get back into the dugout after an ill-fated spell at Clyde, who he left in February 2017.
Many may be surprised that one of the most prominent players of the last generation should choose to operate below the senior game.
However, Ferguson feels he is ready for the challenge and believes Kelty will be getting a more considered and less demanding coach.
The 41-year-old said: “I spoke with a couple of clubs over the last seven to ten days. I’ve decided one just matched the ambition.
“It took me aback if I’m honest, it blew me away. But I’ve got things going on the outside in terms of media and commitments going into next summer.
“So I’ve had to go away and try to sort them out. They’ve been good enough to let me do that. Nothing has been agreed, I’m still talking to them.
“Over the 16 months I’ve been out of management I’ve had various offers to go back in but this has made me that excited and I want to get that bit between my teeth.
“Out of respect I spoke to clubs. I went to speak to them and their ambition and drive didn’t shock me but it was right up my street.
“I’m not going to keep them holding on. There will be an answer before the end of the week.”
Kelty have risen in stature in recent years having moved from the Junior ranks into the East of Scotland League which they won last season, promoting them to the Lowland League.
They have ambitions to follow Edinburgh City into the SPFL and Ferguson believes hey have the capability of doing so.
He said: “They have got a full pathway through the club from five-year-olds to 20s, they have just started a women’s team and they are revamping their full pitch.
“They have got planning to build two new stands and they have got a clear vision of where they want to go.
“Other clubs I spoke to didn’t have a clear vision. It is about taking them to where they want to go and they want to be the best they can be. It just ticked the boxes for me. I was really impressed with them.
“I had a few people saying to me why are you going to that level? Well, you know what? I can’t pick and choose.
“I just want to go and coach and try and make people better. They showed an ambition and drive that excited me. Other clubs were great but they didn’t show the same ambition as them.
“I need to do things differently. I was highly strung and demanding. Listen, I will still demand but I need to reign it in a wee bit.
“I have learned lessons, I am not embarrassed to say that. I am excited about it and hopefully I can get something sorted. If I can’t, I just need to move on.”
In tandem, Ferguson is looking forward to captaining Scotland at the Star Sixes event at the SSE Hydro in January when former stars of the home nations, the Republic of Ireland and a Rest of the World select will battle it out.
He is taking it very seriously, setting up a training regime for his squad that includes former Celtic stars Jackie McNamara, Simon Donnelly and Robert Douglas. He said: “I want to challenge and try to win it. We’re taking it seriously. All the boys are up for it.
“We start pre-season at the start of November. That’s how seriously we’re taking it!”
Former Rangers stars Jorg Albertz and Marco Negri will feature in the Rest of the World side, skippered by Robert Pires, with Michael Owen captaining England.
l Star Sixes reunites the world’s greatest players in national team colours to renew old rivalries in six-a-side action. SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 4-6 January. Tickets from £20/£10 at www.thessehydro.com