First-time managers: Are they worth the risk for Scottish Premiership owners?

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland
Stephen Glass
New Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass is now one of five current Scottish Premiership bosses currently in their first managerial roles

The appointment of Stephen Glass at Aberdeen takes the tally of current Scottish Premiership bosses experiencing their first taste of senior top-flight management to five.

On the flip side, six managers who were in their debut roles at Premiership clubs have faced the axe in less than three seasons.

Regardless of experience in the dugout, life as a football manager is known for its cutthroat nature. But are the appointments of rookie or first-time gaffers really worth the risk?

BBC Scotland looks at the good, the not so good, and the art of patience when it comes to hiring a first-time boss...

The good...

Last month's Scottish League Cup final brought together two Premiership bosses enjoying stellar debut campaigns.

St Johnstone's Callum Davidson - who had worked as an assistant at the club under previous manager Tommy Wright - came out victorious that day, claiming a major domestic honour in his first season as a manager.

Coupled with a last-gasp ascent into the Premiership's top six, it has been a remarkable first year for the former Scotland full-back.

Davidson's joy meant heartbreak for David Martindale, who steered Livingston to just the second major final in the club's history.

Martindale's league record this season has also gone above and beyond expectations. Since taking charge of the West Lothian side in November, Livingston have suffered just four defeats in 18 league games and could have European football to look forward to with the club sitting fifth heading into their post-split fixtures.

While things ended on a sour note for Neil Lennon this season during his second spell as Celtic boss, his earlier success came after the club put faith in a former captain without any managerial experience.

Three league titles and two Scottish Cups in four years followed, as well as a memorable Champions League campaign in 2012-13 in which Celtic reached the knockout stages of the competition.

The not so good...

Turn back a decade on from Lennon's initial appointment and you will see how things can go wrong with inexperienced managers at the helm.

Liverpool great John Barnes was named Celtic boss in 1999, working under Scotland and Celtic icon Kenny Dalglish, who was appointed director of football. But Barnes would last only eight months in the job after a miserable tenure ended with an infamous Scottish Cup exit to Inverness Caledonian Thistle while trailing league leaders Rangers by 10 points.

This season alone, two first-time managers have been chopped at Premiership clubs.

Ross County dismissed Stuart Kettlewell in December after the 36-year-old - who was placed in sole charge of the team last summer after a spell co-managing with Steven Ferguson - registered a mere three wins from the opening 18 league games of the season.

A month later, Kilmarnock sacked Alex Dyer just over a year after he was appointed Rugby Park boss following a run of 11 defeats in 15 games. Dyer had replaced Angelo Alessio, who lasted just six months and was also new to senior management.

Kettlewell and Dyer were replaced with more experienced managers in John Hughes and Tommy Wright but both clubs are still embroiled in a battle against relegation.

Manager tenure graphic

The patient...

As Gary Barlow might say, in some cases club owners have to show a little patience.

A look in the direction of Ibrox is proof time is needed to ride out the rough times and get it right.

Steven Gerrard, a Liverpool great is now enjoying legendary status in Glasgow. However, it wasn't always rosy for the former England captain.

The 40-year-old's debut season at Rangers was always going to be a period of transition, with the club finishing the previous campaign third behind Aberdeen and 12 points off champions Celtic.

But expectancy levels raised in 2019-20 when they entered the winter break just two points behind Celtic, who had played a game more at that stage.

However, form spiralled out of control at the turn of the year, with Rangers failing to win five of their following 10 Premiership games and ultimately falling 13 points behind Lennon's Celtic at the time of the league's curtailment.

But, with faith from the Ibrox board and an experienced coaching staff in assistant Gary McAllister and first-team coach Michael Beale behind him, Gerrard delivered in emphatic style this season to end Celtic's 10-in-a-row dream and secure a first top-flight title in a decade.

With Scott Brown tipped to be Glass' number two at Pittodrie, could that level of experience and knowledge help bring success to Aberdeen?

'Every appointment is a risk' - analysis

Former Aberdeen defender Willie Miller

Every appointment you make is normally a risk. Stephen Glass is relatively inexperienced but he's young, enthusiastic and he knows Scottish football. Steven Gerrard was young and enthusiastic when he was appointed by Rangers, and questions were asked about that decision at the time.

It's a high bar that's been set by Aberdeen and Stephen has to achieve the ambitions the board have set. Now it's up to him to take the club forward and bring the success the fans are craving.

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