St Mirren: Robbie Neilson says managerial vacancy 'appealing prospect'

Robbie Neilson in the Tynecastle dugout
Robbie Neilson enjoyed a successful stint in charge of Hearts in his first senior coaching role

Robbie Neilson believes the St Mirren manager's position vacated by Jack Ross is a highly alluring role.

Ross has agreed a two-year deal to take charge of English League One Sunderland, having guided the Buddies to the Scottish Premiership last term.

Former Hearts and MK Dons boss Neilson is currently without a club and among the favourites to take over in Paisley.

"It's an appealing job for a lot of people and I'm sure a lot of guys will be desperate to take it," Neilson said.

"St Mirren seem to have a really strong board and understand where they want to get to. It's an appealing one for everyone."

'What are their expectations?'

Former defender Neilson, 37, was promoted from Under-20s boss to head coach at Tynecastle after the club's relegation in 2014.

Under his stewardship, Hearts romped to the Championship title by 21 points in a second tier that also featured city rivals Hibernian and Rangers.

Robbie Neilson parades the Scottish Championship trophy before Hearts fans
Hearts won the Scottish Championship despite the presence of Hibernian and Rangers

Hearts ended their first season back in top flight third, and sat second when Neilson moved to MK Dons in December 2016.

The League One outfit finished 12th in Neilson's first season at the helm, but he left by mutual consent in January this year following a run of one win from 11 games.

Now linked with a return to management at newly-promoted St Mirren, Neilson says understanding the expectations and resources at the club will be vital for Ross's successor.

"There's a lot of positives in St Mirren at the moment, the training ground's great, they've got good momentum," Neilson told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. "But there are also a lot of things that have to be looked at.

"What are the expectations of the fans? What are the expectations of the board? What is the budget? Do they match each other? Does it give someone coming in the opportunity to really drive the place forward, or are you going to be scrapping at the bottom of the league again?

Jack Ross and Lewis Morgan embrace
St Mirren will be without manager Jack Ross and Celtic-bound Lewis Morgan next season

"If it's a club that are really going places, then they have to make sure they finance it and to get someone who is coming in to give them that opportunity to build a squad. They've lost quite a few players over the last 18-20 months. Lewis Morgan's away, [Stevie] Mallan and [Kyle] McAllister before. Three young players you would probably have looked to build your team roundabout when you get into the Premiership.

"You don't have that now so you then go into a market where you're recruiting as a Premiership team, so you have to pay Premiership wages. You're not getting them at the Championship on two and three-year-deals and you can take them up on lower money. It's now going to cost a bit of money."

'There's such a negative vibe'

Neilson believes clubs often place unrealistic demands upon managers, without arming them with the corresponding financial clout.

"I went down to MK Dons and the expectation levels were top-two, and the budget was probably mid-table," he said. "The two don't match.

"We found it difficult to get consistency in results but if you don't match the expectation level, you're out the door.

Robbie Neilson oversees an MK Dons fixture
Neilson left MK Dons in January

"I had an offer to go to a club before I left Hearts and the contract they spoke about had a clause where if they went into the relegation zone they could get rid of you with no compensation. So I said to them, 'if that's going to be [the case], if we get into the top two promotion places, I can move without you getting any money', and it was a totally different story.

"Right away there's such a negative vibe that you have to be so careful."

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