The Big Interview – Alan Kernaghan

New manager Alan Kernaghan yesterday gave the web site an extended interview. We were very encouraged by it and I’m sure you will be too. Thanks to Alan.

What ideas to you think you can bring to the club? – I think it’s important to get everyone going in the right direction, which is important for stability and success. I think it’s important as well that we sort out the Youth side. We need a sort of half-way house. At the moment we’ve got great kids coming up at under 10′, 15’s 16’s etc – but then it stops. We need to try and get something between the under 16’s and the first team, be that an under 18s team, under 21s or whatever. That’s one of the major things. On the first team front, there’s not really much that we can change there it’s just a bit of tinkering as opposed to major changes.

Was it always your ambition to be a manager? – Not when I was younger no. I saw what managers had to deal with and it’s quite difficult, there’s so much more in the background you have to be aware of. The commercial side of it is very important especially for a club like ourselves. Getting people through the gates is very important so I’ll have to have a hand in all that. When I was younger it didn’t appeal to me. I’ve always enjoyed coaching and giving my ideas to other people but only in the last three or four years I have changed my opinion on that. It’s come round quicker than I expected, maybe two years earlier but I’m happy to take it on and I feel that I’ll be able to do what I want to do.

How can you help increase the size of the home crowds? – The first thing is to get results on the park and play attractive football and that in turn will hopefully give us more media coverage and in turn bring more people in. You have to make things more attractive whether that be going out to schools or anything in the community, we have to be seen out there. The players probably won’t like it at first but I did a lot of it when I was younger and it certainly helps. You mature as a person to be able to speak in front of people. It is daunting at first but we need to be seen in the community. It might not happen this season but definitely next season.

A section of the support might see you as the cheap option – does that bother you? – No not really, we are all entitled to our own opinions and some are good and some are bad. I myself have questioned things that have happened at other clubs. I’ve become quite thick skinned during my time in football. I hope to be able to turn them all round and that’s part of the challenge.

What do you think your best strengths as a manager will be? – I think it will be motivating the players. Getting them to go in the right direction is vital. If we have even a half of a thought that we are doing the wrong thing then it affects everyone else because players talk. On the training ground it’s important we go through things, it can sometimes be very boring but come match day it can be the difference between winning and losing.

The Chairman stated he wanted a manager that was young, hungry, aggressive and experienced. Do you think the other three qualities can make up for your lack of experience? – I’m certainly hungry. To answer your question, yes.

Do you think Clyde are capable of playing in the Premier Division? – I think the transition from where we are now to go the Premier is enormous. But we have to take strides to achieve that. I think if we’d gone up this season we would have been lost to be fair. But the potential is here and with one or two other bodies we could make it.

Would our small support be a problem if we went up? – The Premier league teams bring more fans and in the Premier you are going to attract more of your own fans anyway. If not to watch us then certainly to watch the opposition. Rangers and Celtic speak for themselves, we’re obviously very close to Motherwell and people like that so there would be more attraction.

Do you feel you can attract quality players to the club and also keep the existing ones, for example Simon and Jamie? – We are making strides already with those two, hopefully we’ll be able to persuade them that this is where they should play their football. As regards to other players well that remains to be seen really. That’s still unchartered waters for me. It’s certainly something I’ll have to work at to try and attract them and obviously if we’re doing well it makes it a lot easier. Where I’ve played football I’ve made a few contacts, Man City and Middlesbrough. Also I’ve got a good friend who is at Man Utd and people all round Scotland through coaching courses and my time at St.Johnstone. So I’ve got quite a few but I need more. The only way to achieve that is to get out and do some night work, watching games as much as I can.

What’s your view on the part time/full time squad system and what do you feel is the best way for the club to go forward? – Full time is the best set-up. The set-up we have at the moment is difficult but we work round it the best we can. Especially with Pat and Bryan being in the team most weeks. In training we work on things with the full timers and hopefully over time it comes off but when Pat and Bryan come in you feel you have to explain things to them, maybe on the tactics board, whereas if you could show them once as opposed to talking to them time and time again it would be better. But the part- timers definitely have a future at the club.

Did you employ Billy and Andy yourself or was it decided for you? – Well, Andy made it clear that he didn’t want the job and I don’t think Billy was too keen on it either. The Chairman was clear when I spoke to him that he wanted Billy to be the number 2 and Andy to remain as a coach. I’m more than happy, I’ve got to know them quite well in the time I’ve been here and I think I can trust them. I think that’s very important, not having anyone talking behind anyone else’s back.

Do you feel the squad suffers without a reserve team? – It does, but it’s expensive. You’d need maybe another seven or eight players in the squad so you’d have their salaries to pay, and then you’ve got transportation and things like that. Financially, I don’t think we can take it on as yet. But it is something we will look at in the future. It doesn’t help though because we’ve got players here that haven’t played for seven or eight weeks and it’s frustrating for them. I can understand that, still being a player myself, you want to play. That’s why you train, so you can play on the Saturday and if not then at least in the reserves.

Are you worried about relegation? – I’m not worried about it, it’s something we have to face up to but hopefully it won’t be anything to do with us. The next 10 days are big. But you’ve got to play them and that’s just the way it’s come about. If we get two results out of the four we won’t be in a bad position. But obviously we’re hoping to get four results out of four. But there’s no way of denying it they are vital games.

You were at USA ’94 – was that a good experience? – It was a great experience, but I was bitterly disappointed I didn’t get to play. I had my kit of off and everything at the sidelines but big Jack changed his mind. But it was great to see the insides of one of the biggest competitions in the world. A great experience but tinged with annoyance because I didn’t get my chance. I played in seven of the eight qualifying games so you’ve done quite a bit to get there. I was a bit unfortunate that things weren’t going very well at the time with Man City and I took that on to the stage with the Republic. Phil Baab had just signed for Liverpool and was on the top of his game so circumstances led it to be how it was.

What has been the most enjoyable moment of your career so far? – I think it was probably leading St.Johnstone to the League Cup final, that was enjoyable. Up against Rangers and a full house at Celtic Park – it was a great experience it really was. I felt proud to play in that game and also proud of my team mates. We lost the game but we didn’t go down in a bad way and gave it our best shot. I’ve played in big games before but for a lot of the lads it was their first time.

Are you going to continue playing? – At the moment I’m struggling so I’ll probably have to wait until the summer and make a decision then. I’d like to be available at least, but I think it would be difficult to do the two jobs.

Once again thanks to Alan for the big interview.