Alan Stubbs admits he used to try and kick Steven Gerrard when the pair were on opposing sides in the Merseyside derby. Now the new St Mirren manager gets a kick out of the fact they will be trackside rivals in the Scottish Premiership next season.
Gerrard’s decision to choose Rangers for his first foray into management will prove “eye opening” for the Liverpool legend, according to former Everton and Celtic defender Stubbs. “He’s been an incredible player and someone I have had the privilege of sharing a pitch with,” said the former Hibernian manager whose first competitive encounter with Gerrard only came after he moved to Goodison from Glasgow in 2001. “I’ve seen him being, more often than not, the person who single-handedly won derbies against us by producing a moment of magic. It seems a bit weird that our rivalry starts again off the pitch.
“I had a text off him a couple of days ago to wish me all the best. I said the same to him. Knowing Steven, the type of character he is, he’ll be absolutely relishing the challenge. His playing chapter is closed, he’s had a year at Liverpool with the under-18s and it’s probably whetted his appetite in terms of the bigger picture. Privately he’s had a few offers to go in, not felt they were right, but he’s jumped in now. Did I see it coming? No, but good luck to him. I admire his bravery more than anything – it shows a bit of balls.”
Stubbs now appears to accept he was more foolhardy than brave to leave Easter Road for Championship side Rotherham in the immediate wake of ending Hibs’ quest for their footballing Holy Grail two years ago with a first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years. A miserable run that brought only one win in 14 league matches resulted in Stubbs failing to last five months at the Yorkshire club and thereafter being out of the game until St Mirren last week brought him on board in a move that will see him manage in the top flight for the first time.
Stubbs conceded he has had “plenty of time to reflect” on what kind of manager he will be this time around following his two years in the Championship with the Easter Road side and an ill-judged stint with Rotherham.
“It is coming up for 20 months,” he said of his time out of management. “Probably the first six months was the most reflective in terms of looking back not necessarily at what I had done right but at what I had done [wrong] for the next time. It seems a little bit unkind because in the last month I have seen some quotes from certain managers. I remember one from Brendan [Rodgers] who was asked what advice he would give to young managers and it was: don’t be in a rush. When I look back that was me. I was in a rush. I think in any walk of life when you have a taste of success early you think it is just going to be an upward spiral and I didn’t think enough about the move. I jumped in too quickly.
“I didn’t do enough due diligence about it. I am surprised at myself that I didn’t but I didn’t. Sometimes adversity can make you a better and stronger person and I certainly think that this time around I won’t make the same mistakes. I can’t make the same mistakes again. That is the way management is. There might be a little bit of a change in terms of the way I go about it and the people I have around me.
“In the 20 months I have had four offers and two interviews so it is not as if I have been twiddling my thumbs. I have been wanting to get back in but as a result of my last experience I have said no to them. So I am hoping that has stood me in good stead.
“Speaking to the people at St Mirren they seem good people. They seem like people I can work with and who are going to be very supportive, which is important. I am not saying the people at the last club were bad people. They were just different to what I had worked with. Different to Leeanne [Dempster, Hibs chief executive] and George [Craig, Hibs director of football] and people behind the scenes. When you don’t have that it makes you appreciate what you had.”
l Alan Stubbs was speaking at the McDonald’s & Scottish FA Community Football Day in Dalgety Bay. These football days are taking place across the UK this summer for thousands of children. www.mcdonalds.co.uk/communityfootballdays