GOT TO DESIRE
City full-back he plucked from obscurity whilst managing Dundee.
“Andy was just a wee boy selling programmes at Hampden,” explains McNamara. “He was playing for nothing at Queen’s Park Amateurs.
“We signed him for £5,000, brought him up to St Andrews with his parents and explained what we’d do – build up the strength in his legs, develop his body and give him a chance to play.
“Twelve months later he’s playing for Scotland and in the Premier League. We sold him for £2.85m. His story is just phenomenal.
“At 15 he was told he was too small. Now look at him. But the kid had that fire in his belly. When you see that, you know they’ll succeed. Desire always overcomes ability.
“The challenge for me is coaxing that fire out of the ones who just have the talent.”
McNamara’s own fire was instilled by his dad Jackie snr, a defender for Hibernian in the seventies and eighties, then honed by his experience in the Celtic Park pressure cooker where anything but perpetual victory was a failure.
“Looking back, the biggest things I miss are the Champions League nights and the Old Firm games,” says McNamara, who left Celtic to join Wolves in 2005. “I loved playing Rangers – the pressure and the hype and everything that surrounded it.
“What I don’t miss are the other games. They became mundane, difficult to enjoy. The expectation was to win by a margin. If you beat a team 4-0, somebody would say ‘Come on lads, I had 5-0 on my coupon’.
“But it did instill standards. My first game for Wolves was against Southampton, away at St Mary’s. We drew 0-0 and, after the game, a few of the boys were saying it was a great result. I was seething – I still had that mindset of needing to win everything.”
Though injuries ensured his time at Wolves was swiftly forgotten by fans, McNamara enjoyed his two-year spell south of the border.
“Glenn Hoddle signed me and he was a fantastic coach,” he adds. “Then I got to work with Mick McCarthy – a big contrast to Glenn but a great guy who treated players properly.
“What kind of manager am I? I like to treat players the way I wanted to be treated. Even as captain of Celtic, I was never a big shouter or pointer.
“I think I’m the same as a manager. I want people to play with freedom and not be afraid to make mistakes.
“A captain for me is someone who leads by example, sees problems on the field and encourages those around him.
“It’s a tough job for players now. With 24-hour coverage and social media, it’s totally different from when we played. We had 60,000 people telling you if you were good enough and a guy in the local paper giving you a mark out of ten. Then it was all over. Now, it’s non-stop.”
And that includes on the pitch, where McNamara says his players will be released from the shackles of ‘Fear Football’.
“I want the players to express themselves and take the game to the opposition,” he explains
“Most of all, I want to see that fire – the desire to be better than this. Give
me that, I’m happy.”
ON THE UP: Andy Robertson scores for Hull at Brentford in midweek PRESSURE: Jackie McNamara during his Celtic days