SPL focus

London calling for Saints boss McInnes

May 10, 2011
By Andy Moir
(Archive)

Derek McInnes has long been hailed as the new Owen Coyle and this summer he could be about to follow his mentor's lead.

Derek McInnes St Johnstone
PA PhotosDerek McInnes is hot property in Scotland after leading St Johnstone to the Scottish Cup semis

Coyle's stock has risen considerably since he left St Johnstone for Burnley four years ago. Now he's rubbing shoulders with the elite of the English Premier League as the boss of an impressive Bolton side.

McInnes, who succeeded Coyle at McDiarmid Park, has also been attracting admiring glances from down south as the Perth club continue to prove a healthy breeding ground for young managerial talent.

The Saints boss, who has worked to a tight budget, has been linked with a number of vacant posts in England and recently confirmed he has spoken to Brentford, though he has refused to publicly discuss a possible move to the League One side.

The Bees made an approach for McInnes over the weekend after parting company with manager Andy Scott in February, but the Saints boss has not been forthcoming about what he makes of the approach from the London club.

"I can confirm that I have spoken to Brentford," McInnes said on Monday. "But that's all I am going to say about the matter at the moment."

McInnes boasts an enviable track record with St Johnstone. Since taking charge in 2007 he has guided them to promotion to the Scottish Premier League and to the Scottish Cup semi-finals this season.

It's easy to see why clubs have come calling for the 39-year-old, who has previously been linked with vacant managerial posts at Watford and West Brom in 2009, with the Saints comfortably clear of any relegation battle again this term.

St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown has previously gone on record as saying it is almost inevitable the former Rangers and West Brom midfielder will look to further his managerial career in England. However, Brown has urged McInnes to resist Brentford's overtures, claiming he'd be selling himself short by moving to a League One outfit.

"Brentford have approached us but they have not discussed or agreed compensation for Derek McInnes," Brown said. "They told me they believed they had agreed terms with Derek but I have spoken to him and he assures me no one has agreed anything. They have spoken to his agent.

"But we have always maintained that if a manager believes he is improving himself by moving on, we will not stand in his way. That makes it difficult for us as we aren't in a position to match the financial rewards on offer down south. But, for obvious reasons, this opening at Brentford is not what I would call a high-profile job. It's not the sort of post I believe Derek should be going for."

Brown fears McInnes could still be tempted by the lure of cash to splash in the summer transfer window.

"Brentford do seem to have a decent budget for new players and they obviously see him as the man to take them into the Championship. That might be a temptation. But I would be disappointed if Del took this job because I believe he deserves a bigger club.

"When we lost Owen Coyle to Burnley, they were a Championship side with aspirations of reaching the Premiership. That was an obvious attraction. He took them there and moved on to Bolton. It worked out well for him. The ultimate aim for a manager has to be managing in the English Premiership and there has to be a better chance of that by starting off in the Championship rather than League One."

Derek McInnes West Brom
PA PhotosMcInnes played in the English Premier League with West Brom but will he be back as a boss?

McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty signed two-year contract extensions earlier in the season and the McDiarmid Park chairman is sure to demand a fair compensation fee.

"Our fans do not want to lose him but I know that Del will not be here until the end of his days," Brown said. "However, he is busting a gut trying to bring together a St Johnstone squad for next season. I really hope that continues."

Saints midfielder Jody Morris was also full of praise for his boss and echoed the chairman's sentiments that it's only a matter of time before McInnes moves south. The former Chelsea man, who played under Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri at Stamford Bridge, rates McInnes as highly as any manager he has worked with.

Morris has not been surprised to read about all the predatory glances that have been cast north, though he is hopeful McInnes will opt to continue his managerial education at St Johnstone for the immediate future and spurn Brentford's advances.

"It is no secret that there has been interest in Derek before," Morris said. "He is a top manager. I have worked under some decent bosses and I'd certainly put him up there with the best. Derek's passion, his attention to detail and the confidence he gives his players means there will definitely be a few people trying to take him away this summer.

"That is the nature of the beast. When someone is coming up in management and doing well then bigger clubs will want to come in for them. From a personal point of view, I hope he doesn't go anywhere but we will see what happens."

If McInnes does follow in Coyle's footsteps it would only further strengthen the argument that working in Scotland is a great grounding for rising managerial stars.