Monday, January 11, 2010

Killie me softly (Updated)

Update


Kilmarnock have confirmed that Jefferies and Billy Brown are to leave the club by mutual consent:
"An agreement has been reached among Kilmarnock Football Club, team manager Jim Jefferies and assistant team manager Billy Brown which will allow Messrs Jefferies and Brown to leave the employment of the club with immediate effect. 
"The agreement was reached by mutual consent."

The background


It’s never been all that difficult to spot the difference between Jim Jefferies and a man with a vivacious love for life.

Right now, however, his grumpy git demeanour looks to be entirely justified. Kilmarnock seem to be in the midst of the kind of internal bun fight that would have Gordon Brown nodding in recognition.

Like most Scottish clubs Killie are currently enduring the painful belt tightening that is the inevitable consequence of a good few years of financial silliness. As always in these situations the manager is punished for the recklessness of the board. And then he finds the board blaming him when the results begin to suffer. Such is the manager’s lot.

Jim Jefferies is too long in the tooth not to expect that. And he is certainly bloody minded enough to see it out.

But I’m increasingly of the view that it might be the right time to jump ship for JJ.

We all knew something was seriously wrong when the Kilmarnock players threatened to strike in the summer over the clubs refusal to pay the wages needed to move Gary Locke into a permanent coaching position.

Jefferies weathered that storm like he’s weathered so many over the years. Things haven’t improved as the season has worn on. His threadbare squad has struggled, the lack of strength in depth meaning consistency was all but impossible to achieve.

And now, it seems, the Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston has tried to persuade JJ’s current head boy, Kevin Kyle, to dish the dirt on the boss.

It must be said that Johnston has denied the claims, even suggesting that it was Kyle who originally raised concerns over tactics, and threatened to discipline the gangly striker for mouthing off to press.

A storm in a teacup? A manufactured media mash to fill the vacuum caused by a disrupted fixture list and a quiet transfer window. Or even an elaborate move by Kyle to engineer a move to pastures new?

It could be all of these things. But it has served to further strain relations between a chairman hell bent on cost cutting and a manager desperate to galvanise his struggling team.

It has also given Jefferies an exit strategy. If he leaves now few would blame him. He’s seen as one of Scottish football’s more decent guys and he deserves more than to be the victim of a cack handed conspiracy of whispering idiots. Walking now lets him control his own destiny.

Staying out of loyalty to the supporters and players would be laudable and in character. But at this stage in his career does he not want more than a battle with SPL survival?

There are options out there. Dundee United and Motherwell would probably sit up and take notice if an experienced Scottish manager suddenly announced his availability.

And Kilmarnock, with their small but reasonably solid squad, would probably benefit right now from an injection of enthusiasm from a younger man. The board would be able to set out the constraints and ambitions of the club to a new manager from the start. That would remove the resentment that Jefferies and his staff obviously feel about the shifting sands that have blighted Rugby Park recently.

Sometimes a parting of the ways is the healthiest option for all concerned. Who knows, we might just see Jim Jefferies smile before January is over.