Sky's not the limit for Pars coach McCann
Published 2 Oct 2012 11:00 0 Comments
Photo: Craig Brown.
AS A Sky Sports pundit he's analysing the best in Scottish football and Neil McCann is now bringing that know-how to the Pars' title bid.
The former Scotland, Hearts and Rangers winger is combining life in a cosy TV studio with a sodden Pitreavie training ground as he takes his fledgling steps as a coach.
Having worked under Jim Jefferies as a player, the 37-year-old is now learning from the old master as they try to take Dunfermline back to the SPL at the first time of asking.
In an exclusive interview with Press Sport, McCann said, "As you get older and more experienced you start thinking about the coaching side and ways to stay in the game.
"My second time round at Hearts I had a couple of horrible injuries and I started doing my badges.
"Jim invited me in for the first day of pre-season and it's gone from there.
"I will graduate with a UEFA Pro Licence at the end of this month, coaching is something I am passionate about and it's a great opportunity to learn from the gaffer and Gerry (McCabe) and work with the first team."
He continued, "I want to be a manager some day, definitely, but right now I'm really enjoying working under Jim.
"I've always admired him as a manager in terms of how his demands are placed upon the team, his man-management is very good, he's well respected and I was also successful under him.
"He took me to Hearts from Dundee and definitely improved me as a player and it's something I've never forgotten."
McCann is currently working at Dunfermline without a contract and he's not being paid by the club.
He said, "I'm on the staff and have been since the first day of pre-season but at the moment there's nothing signed contractually and I'm quite happy just coming in and working away.
"I'm doing it as an experience and to help the team but the pleasing thing is Jim and Gerry have let me in, I'm hands-on with the team and the boys have been great with it."
Swapping the shirt and tie for the tracksuit hasn't caused him any difficulty either and he explained, "To be able to learn the trade and also do my job at Sky, which I love, is the best of both worlds.
"The two roles complement each other at the moment and Sky are very happy with what I'm doing here.
"I'm still heavily involved in the game, whether it's punditry or co-commentary, I'm watching a lot of games and meeting different players and managers while the coaching side is something I've always wanted to do."
His job at Sky requires him to comment freely on SPL players and, after a career of titles, cup medals and 26 international caps, he's well placed to cast an expert eye over the Pars' current crop.
The report card so far is glowing and he said, "It's a very young team but it's going from strength to strength.
"We won't make any big predictions about what we're going to do but every day we're asking them to do certain things on the park and they're buying into it.
"I think the performance on Saturday, any Dunfermline fan who saw that would have gone away very happy with what they'd seen and I'm proud to be a part of that.
"It's a happy place to come into and everyone, from the kit man and people behind the scenes to the manager and players, is pulling together as a group to help make the club successful."
McCann still looks fit enough to do a job on the pitch and he could easily have been helping his old pal, and member of the Pars Hall of Fame, Jackie McNamara with the Jags' title challenge.
"I'm still very close with Jackie, we did our UEFA Pro Licence together, and it was funny being in opposite dug-outs when Partick came here," he said.
"I played a few games for Dundee when they were in administration and I was going to play for Partick - Jackie asked me if I was interested in playing and helping the young boys - but I ruptured my cruciate ligament in training.
"The opportunity at Dunfermline came up and it's working out well.
"I still work pretty hard and love being involved, if someone pulls out of training or goes off I'm fighting Cabey for the bib.
"Luckily I'm a bit quicker than him!"
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 02 Oct 12