FROM the depths of despair at Dunfermline Athletic, to the salutary lessons that enlightened his outlook and shaped him as one of Scotland’s brightest young managers, Jim McIntyre – with the power of hindsight – believes being sacked by the Fife club remains the best thing to have happened to him in his career.
The despondency surrounding McIntyre in March 2010, just ten months after he had led the Pars to the First Division title, might have consigned weaker characters permanently to the fringes of the game.
Instead, the 42-year-old former Dundee United, Reading and Kilmarnock striker took careful stock, re-fuelled on self-belief and set about bouncing back in compelling fashion.
A show of faith from Derek McInnes at Bristol City allowed McIntyre a foot back in the door before Queen of the South harnessed his drive and talents to good effect.
After a fourth-place Championship finish last season and a bright start this year, Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor sidestepped the big-name allure of applicants such as John Hartson and Winston Bogarde to place faith in the Alexandria-born Scot.
For McIntyre, backed by close friend Billy Dodds as assistant, it is the next step up in his career – and an exciting one at that.
Reflecting on the end of his four-year Dunfermline managerial stint, when he was replaced by Jim Jefferies, the new County boss said: “I learned a helluva lot from what happened at Dunfermline.
“Sometimes you can be too loyal. Your team’s just won the league and you’re on the crest of a wave. We had good players down there, but ultimately you are dictated by your budget.There were games we should have won and you learn from that. What you really need to do when you lose your job is self-analyse. You can’t look for excuses.
“You’ve got to sit down and determine exactly where you went wrong. That’s something I did. There’s no guarantee you’re now going to get things right, but I’d say I’m now a far better manager than what I was then.
“I was out of work for a month and then went down and assisted Derek McInnes at Bristol City in a scouting capacity. I went back in September and was there until the following February. You analyse everything – your decision process, your recruitment process, your tactics, every little detail you can.
“You sit down and really look at where you could have done better, decisions made at key times. There will always be influences that didn’t help, like your injury situation. We had a lot, but I don’t like making excuses.
“There were games we should have won regardless of injuries.
“Dunfermline were great for me. It is a great club. I got handed the job as a player and it was a great four-year learning experience. It made me more determined – absolutely. You can either sulk off and look to do something else with your life or else you can get back on the horse. I was lucky enough that Derek McInnes showed faith to take me down to Bristol City and that, in turn, helped me win an opportunity at Queen of the South.
“I was confident I could get back to this level. Sometimes you need to suffer losing your job to improve. And there is no doubt my time down at Bristol City with Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty in a great league like the Championship definitely improved me.”
McIntyre didn’t apply for the County job, but was approached on the strength of chairman MacGregor’s feedback from influential, un-named characters at the higher end of the game.It says much of the esteem in which he is held around the country that his name kept cropping up in conversations.
Queen of the South gave County permission to speak to McIntyre, which the Dingwall outfit did twice in two days, before he slept on their offer of a one-year rolling contract and then accepted a second crack at Scotland’s top flight on Tuesday.
McIntyre said: “Ross County are two to three gears ahead of Queen of the South and the facilities are superb. It is a great place for players to learn. The club is in a fantastic place and it was ultimately a no-brainer for me, despite the tug at the heartstrings at Queen of the South.”