The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND -

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

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