James McDonaugh: Making City slicker is long-term project

James McDonaugh is delighted to be the new manager of Edinburgh City. Pic: Neil Hanna
James McDonaugh is delighted to be the new manager of Edinburgh City. Pic: Neil Hanna
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New Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh decided to take his first steps in management with the League Two club after seeing qualities that matched his own.

The former Hibs Under-20s coach was appointed as Gary Jardine’s replacement yesterday, having left his role as first-team coach at Falkirk following manager Peter Houston’s sacking.

He took training for the first time last night ahead of his bow in the dugout in Friday night’s William Hill Scottish Cup second-round tie against Stenhousemuir at Ainslie Park.

“I think the club maybe mirrored myself a wee bit in the sense that they’re a forward-thinking, ambitious club,” he told the Evening News. “I’m not in a hurry get it done tomorrow – it’s a long-term project, a local team for me with good facilities and infrastructure. I met the chairman, Jim Brown and (sporting director) Jim Jefferies and thought it seemed like a good move for me.

“I was always open-minded about what was going to happen next. I’m not somebody that’s adamant that I need to do this or that. Of course, I’m ambitious but being a manager wasn’t a must. I was quite open to any avenue, whether it be back to academy football or first team. I always said I would like to be a manager but I didn’t want to put a timescale on that. You know when the time is right and I felt that time was now. Obviously, we’ll find out over time whether it was.”

McDonaugh, 39, was keen to acknowledge the job done by predecessor Jardine and his coaching team.

“I think we’ve got to pay tribute to what’s happened before us,” he said. “Gary did a great job. I don’t know him personally but as an outsider looking in, him and the players took the club into a good position. Obviously, things have changed but we just need to pick the boys up and get going.

“We’ll look at everybody, give them a fair chance and try and pick a team. It’ll take a bit of time with them only training twice a week which will take longer compared to when you’ve got players full-time every day and see their characters about the place. We’ll take it step by step. It’s not a case of coming in and changing things too quickly. We must get a base to start from and take it from there.

“It’s going to be a change for me too. The last two weeks have been difficult in that they’ve been the first two weeks I’ve been out of full-time football in eleven years. I’ve worn out my living room carpet pacing up and down so I’ll need a new one! It’s good for me in that I’ve not got anything during the day but I’ll use my time wisely and try to do everything I can.”

City striker Craig Beattie has been promoted to player/assistant manager, while former Hibs youth coach and Preston Athletic manager Colin Jack comes in as first-team coach. “I thought it was vital to keep Craig,” said McDonaugh. “He’s got the respect of the players and a playing career you’ve got to respect. He’s played for two massive clubs up here (Celtic and Hearts) and been capped for Scotland seven times.

“Colin I’ve known for a number of years. He’ll come in with similar views on the game to me and, between us, we just need to do whatever it takes to try and get the boys picked up again.”

There are also some familiar faces from McDonaugh’s time at Easter Road. “I’ve worked with Lewis Allan and Calum Antell before and Sean Mackie in his first spell with Hibs,” he explained. “I’ve seen a number of the other boys over the years as well. I’m pretty sure Marc Laird was playing under-11s when I first started coaching – I’ll need to have a chat with him and see if it actually was him! I remember a young boy with a lot of talent playing for Hutchie Vale so it was either him or someone with a similar name! There’s a lot of talent in the squad and I’m excited to work with them.”

McDonaugh admitted that SPFL safety is the obvious target, but was reluctant to look too far ahead.

“You can sit here and set targets for what you’d love to do but we need to take each game as it comes,” he said. “I know it’s the old cliche, but we have to deal in reality. We’re sitting just above Cowdenbeath, who are bottom, and we want to look up the way. We’ll fight for everything to get started and wherever that takes us after that, then great.”