New York City manager Jackie McNamara ready for English test
WHY did Jackie McNamara turn his back on Scotland to saddle himself with an ailing club in League Two?
“I just wanted a bit of variety,” smiles the new York City manager, who left SPL outfit Dundee United in September. “We played Celtic seven times last year. Aberdeen five times. Dundee five times. It was getting boring!”
Not that there’s been much variety at Bootham Crescent recently. Stodgy performances and grim defeats have been churned out with depressing regularity; another year of fending of the Conference seems a certainty.
Yet McNamara, appointed on Wednesday following the sacking of Russ Wilcox, has made a career of wringing blood from stones.
First in a decade at Celtic that yielded four league titles, six domestic cups and a player of the year award.
“As a player, I was no superstar,” admits the defender, who also won 33 caps and played in the 1998 World Cup for Scotland.
“But I spent ten years with Celtic at a time when they were spending millions of pounds on some of the best players in the world – Paul Lambert, Henrik Larsson. I won over Martin O’Neill. It was a constant fight to reinvent myself, to prove that work could beat ability.”
Then came a coaching career taking in stops at Partick Thistle and Dundee United. “I had very little in the way of resources at Partick,” he explains. “But we still got them to a cup final and second in the league. “At Dundee, the manager resigned, saying he couldn’t take the club forward due to budget cuts and everything else. We signed hungry players with a bit of fire, people like Nadir Ciftci who is now at Celtic. We got to the top six, the semi-final of the cup.” Hunger and fire are McNamara’s buzzwords, constantly repeated as he explains how York can overcome ostensibly superior opponents.
By way of illustration, he points to the rise of Andy Robertson, the Hull
POINTING THE WAY: Jackie McNamara during his time at Dundee United and, inset, at his York unveiling with assistant Simon Donnelly