Derek McInnes hoping to bring exciting football back to Kilmarnock

The former St Johnstone, Bristol City and Aberdeen manager is determined to ensure he and the club earn a swift return to the top flight.

By Press Association Published: 6 January 2022 - 6.16pm

Derek McInnes recalled the excitement that Tommy Burns and Steve Clarke brought to Kilmarnock when he agreed to return to management in the cinch Championship.

The former St Johnstone, Bristol City and Aberdeen manager is determined to ensure he and the club earn a swift return to the top flight and believes the potential will then be there to aim for European places and silverware.

McInnes succeeds Tommy Wright, who paid the price for three consecutive league defeats, but Killie are only five points off the top with a game in hand.

McInnes, who has been joined at Rugby Park by former Dons coaches Tony Doherty and Paul Sheerin, said: “I don’t want to be in the Championship any more than the club want to be in the Championship.

“It’s up to us all now to be a Premiership club because I think we can all safely say when Kilmarnock are a Premiership club, they are ahead of a lot of clubs in terms of what they can provide – the potential, the support, everything else.

“I want to help the club get there but at the same time it’s important that we knuckle down, respect the league and work hard.

“Hopefully this time next year we are talking about being a Premiership club, in the top six, trying to fight for Europe.

“That’s what can be done. It has been done here before and we will look to try and do that again.”

The 50-year-old added: “I played against Kilmarnock when it was really thriving under Tommy Burns’ team.

“Tommy Burns really lit the fire here and got the supporters engaged. Stevie did it more recently and we saw the capabilities of the team as well.

“I am fully aware of what can be achieved here. I do think for a club like ourselves, cup success in time should be something we strive for.

“But also that consistency of performance. Kilmarnock have been a very consistent Premiership club for a long time and for whatever reason find ourselves out of the top flight. We need to address that.”

McInnes led Aberdeen into Europe in all seven of his full seasons in charge – finishing second in the table on four occasions – and also secured the League Cup in 2014.

The former Rangers midfielder believes he returns to the game a better manager after his break.

“I have been out now for about nine months,” he said. “I have really enjoyed the break, I tried to take the positives from that.

“Having worked 14 years almost continuously and since I left school as a player, you are constantly involved.

“Being a manager is all-consuming and when you have a chance to come out the game you have to use the time wisely.

“I feel I have had a proper break. I feel I am a better manager than ever – most experienced managers will say that.

“On the back of what we achieved at Aberdeen, we are confident we can get something similar going here and make those improvements.”

McInnes stressed he had a good squad available to him but will look for help in the transfer window.

“I had positive chats with the board and I think part of the reason why I am here at this moment in time potentially is that we do have that option to try and make necessary changes,” he added.

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