LEE McCULLOCH has been here before. Almost 12 months ago to the day, he sat in the same seat, surrounded by a club crisis, answering questions about not just the future direction of the club but of his own destiny to go along with it.
Following Gary Locke's resignation last January, it was the mature head of McCulloch that the Kilmarnock board turned to in their interim hour of need. It proved to be a fruitful exercise for the then 37-year-old as his 100% unbeaten record would testify to, a 0-0 draw at Ibrox followed up with a 2-0 away win away to Motherwell signing off on a steep but smooth learning curve.
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The situation of getting Kilmarnock through another state of flux is familiar to the Rugby Park club's go-to guy, but there is the merest of hints that the mindset of the player/coach is now different to the one which appeared closed off a year ago to taking a full-time leap into the world of management.
“I’m not going to say I’m not interested in the job. That would be wrong but I’m not going to say anything else," said McCulloch.
“I think the most important thing is to take training this week ahead of our game [on Sunday] against an Aberdeen team that’s just scored seven goals.
“It’s a great game for the players to go out and show everybody how good they are live on TV. You can’t beat playing in those games.
"I have only been on this side of the fence for a year and a half now. I have been the captain off a big club going through a bit of turmoil and had to help with things off the pitch with players and so on. But outwith that I helped the manager with different things and I learned from that experience.
"The last year and a half I have done my best to learn. I'm a young coach looking at the likes of Derek McInnes and other managers like Alan Archibald and Paul Hartley - I am looking at these guys and I want to learn from them.
"That's how I was as a player and it's the way I will always be."
It is unclear at this stage if the Kilmarnock board will look to make an interim appointment or a permanent one - McCulloch has only been asked to deal with this weekend's match against Aberdeen at this point - but a long-term managerial acquisition would surely be more beneficial for a club that goes through managers like Donald Trump goes through hair spray cans.
Excluding McCulloch, Kilmarnock have had five managers in the last six years, not to mention 45 player transactions during Clark's reign. Is it little wonder that so many supporters have grown disenchanted with what they have seen?
“Probably the club would benefit from a bit of stability, a bit of continuity,” said McCulloch. “The other side of it is that they would benefit from that in the dressing room as well, because of the amount of changes there have been in the past two windows.
“I’m not being negative at all. I just feel that some continuity could be beneficial. “I haven’t thought about what I would do in the training session if I ended up as the Kilmarnock manager.
“Everything happened so quickly, so it’s about just trying to get prepared. If I were in the frame for the job, I would have to be just as comfortable with the decision as the club.”
It is clear McCulloch has grown fond of Clark during their year together at Kilmarnock. The Englishman was a character hard not to like, and his infectious personality and enthusiasm permeated through the Rugby Park home dressing room last season to held keep them in the Ladbrokes Premiership. It may remain unclear if his understudy will be given the chance to follow in his footsteps a year on, but McCulloch believes he is more capable now to deal with the task that now faces him. Short term or otherwise.
“I'm not going to say I'm experienced,” he said. “There are managers out there that have loads.
“Something Mark McGhee said always sticks in my head from the last time I was in charge. I took the team to Motherwell and was speaking to Mark before the game and I was nervous.
“And Mark says to me, 'nothing changes. I've got over a thousand games under my belt and I'm still learning.
“Every manager is still learning.
“I've only been coaching full-time for a year and a half but I've got the required experience it takes to be a manager in the future. Be that the near future - or now. Whatever.”