Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes admits seeing his former club sack Steven MacLean underlined the increasingly challenging environment for young managers in Scottish football.
MacLean was sacked by St Johnstone on Sunday five months after signing a three-year contract.
The former Saints striker had taken over on a caretaker basis from Callum Davidson late last season and led the Perth club to cinch Premiership safety.
His preparations for this season were undermined by a slow start to their summer transfer business but the club removed him and assistant Liam Craig after a 4-0 defeat by St Mirren left them without a win at the foot of the cinch Premiership table.
McInnes, whose side face Saints in Perth on Wednesday, said: “I am really disappointed a young manager has lost his job so early in the season.
“We are now on three casualties and we were not even in November. It’s so disappointing to see that.
“You see a lot of clubs appointing from within and a lot of first-time managers in the Premiership at the minute.
“They deserve the same opportunity and time to see things through. But we all know how difficult it is to get time.
“I feel for Steven and Liam. Liam is someone I know really well, he was my first ever signing as a manager. Two boys who gave so much to that club.”
Until this year, St Johnstone had not sacked a manager since John Connolly in 2005, enjoying success under Owen Coyle, McInnes, Steve Lomas, Tommy Wright and Davidson – most of them first-time managers.
But they have now made two changes inside six months and McInnes knows that is the way football has been heading.
“Unfortunately I don’t see it changing,” he said. “St Johnstone have been very good, going back a while now, their managers have all moved on. Their last two managers have lost their job, that’s the first time they have sacked managers for a while.
“And how long is enough time? We are not even a quarter of the way through the season.
“Clubs appoint managers with the intention to support them and give them an opportunity, and they have got to accept there will be bumps in the road and times where things aren’t going accordingly.
“But every club has their own reasons for making changes.
“I just think that it’s becoming more and more challenging for managers to keep their head above water.
“I am sure he will be good enough to go on elsewhere and hopefully he gets another opportunity elsewhere, whether he wants to stay as a manager or be part of a staff again. He was a really important member of Callum’s staff.
“He and Liam served that club so well and I am sure their reputation hasn’t been damaged.”
St Johnstone are under the caretaker charge of Alex Cleland, a former Rangers team-mate of McInnes.
“In terms of preparation for the game, it’s a wee bit of the unknown,” said McInnes, whose team have won their last two matches.
“Alex is somebody I know really well but you never really know what’s going on inside the club and how they are going to prepare for the game. There might be a change of shape, change of personnel.
“Sometimes when a caretaker manager goes in, it’s a fresh slate and maybe players who have not been playing might come to the fore a wee bit.
“We really just need to focus on our performance, be prepared for every eventuality in terms of what team and shape comes in from them, and just try to get to our levels.
“The longer teams like ourselves can stay unbeaten and go on winning runs, and if we can have a few of them spread out through the course of the season, then it will certainly help our aims. That’s the job again, to try and get a similar level of performance.”
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