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Jan 14, 2010

SPL clubs playing the generation game

Even the beautiful game can experience a fashion craze. The latest one threatening to sweep through football clubs north of the border is certainly beginning to catch on. It now seems to be en vogue to go old when it comes to appointing your next manager in Scotland. Motherwell sparked the recent revolution when they turned to former Scotland boss Craig Brown after opting to axe the outspoken Jim Gannon.

That move for the veteran has triggered a chain reaction, with 69-year-old Brown tipped to be at the helm until the end of the season at Fir Park. Perhaps what surprised commentators most was the fact Brown appointed Archie Knox as his right-hand man, albeit with the pair in charge on an interim basis.

Most pundits had predicted Brown would be in place to attempt to nurture and develop a younger man before bowing out gracefully. Maybe he just feels comfortable working with a more experienced man and Knox, at 62, certainly fits that bill.

However, Brown's renaissance has captured the imagination of other Scottish Premier League clubs with Kilmarnock interviewing former Motherwell manager Tommy McLean following the departure of Jim Jefferies.

That could have prompted McLean, who at 62 is seven years younger than the interim Motherwell boss, to sever his ties with the Scotland youth set-up to return to club management.

But Killie have now offered the Rugby Park role to former Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood, who left Pittodrie in the summer. Calderwood, 54, is another experienced manager but will certainly feel he still has lots more to offer if he decides to accept the position.

Golden oldies Brown and McLean aren't the only 60-somethings in the game as Rangers gaffer Walter Smith is now 61. Maybe they are all seeking inspiration from one of Scotland's most famous exports - Sir Alex Ferguson - who recently celebrated his 68th birthday. Perhaps the more mature approach is the way to go as experienced managers can offer a different approach to a man looking to make their mark in the sport.

There could be further scope for yet more interesting managerial moves with Motherwell, Dundee United and of course Kilmarnock seeking permanent appointments.

Brown and McLean may well be in strong positions to stake their claim for new challenges, but Jefferies is another free agent after suddenly ending his eight year tenure at Rugby Park, while George Burley is also looking for a club position following a disastrous spell in charge of Scotland.

Jefferies had been quoted as a candidate for the United job but reports now claim he's out of the running for that post. Yet Dundee United will have to move quickly to land their new man after caretaker Peter Houston ruled himself out of the reckoning.

The Tannadice powerbrokers had identified Bohemians boss Pat Fenlon as a replacement for Craig Levein, who left the Terrors to become the new Scotland manager. United baulked at the compensation figure the Irish club demanded after initially offering £90,000 only to be told they needed to at least double their offer. The Arabs faithful will have been shocked at being priced out of their bid to land a relatively unknown manager from Ireland, so the pressure is on the board to find a successor for Levein.

And Knox has also been quick to make his own pitch for the Dundee United post as he knows he could have a very short shelf life at Motherwell. Queen of the South boss Gordon Chisholm has also been listed as a potential candidate.

Houston will certainly be hoping the new man is appointed soon as he's struggled to shine operating in the huge shadow Levein has left hanging over the club.

He's won just once in the SPL and that came in midweek away to Hamilton Academical courtesy of a David Goodwillie strike. That will have given Houston some light relief, but this weekend he faces a much tougher test when Hibs roll into Tannadice.

Both clubs are competing for third spot in the league, although the hosts have certainly lost impetus in their league charge following Levein's exit.

The encounter between the pair is certainly the game of the day in the SPL with the Edinburgh club out to extend their lead over United in the race for third place. Houston will be much happier now that he's won his first league match in charge and will certainly be going all out to end his short spell at the helm on a high.

However, the victory over Hamilton won't change his mindset on the managerial position, even though United were worth their victory.

Whoever comes in as boss at United, Kilmarnock or Motherwell on a permanent basis, don't rule out all three clubs playing the generation game by opting to appoint a more mature manager.

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