Stirling Albion boss Dave Mackay insists he never doubted the Forthbank club was the best place to start his managerial career after collecting his first Ladbrokes Manager of the Month Award.
After a patchy start to life as a coach in Ladbrokes League 2, Mackay guided his men to an unbeaten March, leaving the previously relegation-threatened Binos in with an outside chance of making the play-offs.
Fresh from a great career in the top flight which finished with St Johnstone, Mackay admits that people close to him advised him to think twice about taking on such a difficult first job in management.
But speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes News, he said: “It’s more of a team award rather than a manager one. The team have to go out and earn the results, so a lot of the credit has to go to the players and staff I have around me. It’s a real team award, rather than an individual one for me.
“I’m delighted because when I first had the offer, I had a couple of people telling me to make sure I knew what I was getting into, but I was always confident it was a great opportunity.
“I would never be arrogant enough to think I could walk into a job higher up the ladder; I could’ve maybe gone into coaching, but I felt that I really wanted to get into management. It’s a good way for young managers to learn the ropes.
“In the lower leagues, you maybe get away with one or two more mistakes than you do at a higher level. I was convinced this was a great opportunity for me and it’s working out that way.
“When we first came in I knew there’d have to be a major overhaul of the squad, which there was.
“We moved about nine out and brought a similar number in. There’s been a big turnaround and it took a little while for results to go our way.
“But I was always confident we had the makings of a decent squad after January, and that things would get better.
“Thankfully, that’s been the case. We’ve won seven out of our last eight now and we have a little chance of making the play-offs. Nobody would’ve seen that coming a few months ago. It’s all down to hard work and belief in each other, really.”
Stirling Albion are currently four points behind Annan, who currently occupy the final play-off spot, and overtaking them with just four games remaining seems like a long shot, but Mackay is just happy he’s managed to steer his players safely away from a relegation dogfight.
He added: “Initially, when we came in, the priority was to make sure we were safe in this league for next season, and thankfully we’ve secured that with quite a number of games to go.
“Now we can start looking up a little bit and see if we can manage to get into one of the play-off spots. It’s a big ask, and we’ll need favours from others, but whilst it’s possible, we’ll give it our best go.”
If Albion are to make the Ladbrokes League 2 play-offs, they’ll need to do it without striker Andy Little, who suffered a fractured skull during training earlier this week.
Mackay is confident the former Rangers man will make a full recovery, but admits the incident left him slightly startled.
He concluded: “He’s OK and should make a full recovery. Hopefully his scans come back all clear and it’s just a matter of a recovery process, which should take a couple of months or so, before he’s back to normal.
“Thankfully, it’s not as bad as it looked at the time. It was an horrific knock and he was out cold for a good few minutes, but hopefully he makes a full recovery and gets back to normal as soon as possible.”
Mackay and his players host bottom-placed side Cowdenbeath on Saturday at their Forthbank Stadium and are priced at 13/10 favourites to claim all three points.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing