A hectic schedule is second nature when the tasks of running a football team accumulate so readily, and there is little comfort in a sudden bout of personal space. For the first time in 24 years, Derek McInnes is not directly involved in the game, but he already is filling his calendar with tasks. "I'll make sure to use this time wisely," he said. "But I'm eager to get back to work quickly."
It is a form of coping, after his sacking by Bristol City two weeks ago. McInnes has been carrying out some media work and also intends to visit clubs across the country to watch training and catch up with other managers and their methods. There is quality time with his wife and children, too, which is the greater consolation that accompanies stepping away from the frenzy of his career.
Nonetheless, the Scot will know of the many colleagues who find themselves out of management for long periods of time. Restlessness is part of the severance package.
"I've still to get sorted properly at Bristol City, there are a few loose ends to tie up there," McInnes said. "But I'm just enjoying getting to know my kids and wife again. The job does grab you and it's full on, so the last couple of weeks have been a huge change in my life. But I'll prepare to get back to work as soon as things are sorted with Bristol City.
"It's my first break since I left school. I went straight from playing into a managerial job then into another manager's job. So it's important I use the time wisely. When you're in a job, people always say you should go to this club to try to get ideas, [or go] on courses to keep educating yourself but it can be difficult to find the time to do as much as you'd like."
McInnes, 41, was linked to the managerial vacancy at Dundee United, where he spent three years as an authoritative and influential midfielder, but Jackie McNamara is likely to be confirmed today as Peter Houston's successor. The vacancy may have arisen too soon for McInnes anyway, because there are still contractual details to be finalised regarding his departure from Ashton Gate.
"If Dundee United were keen on me as a manager, I'm sure I'd have known about that," he said. "But I'm keen to get back to work, wherever that may be."
Every job opportunity that arises will catch his eye. The temptation will be to seize on the next vacancy that occurs, but choices have to be more considered. In hindsight, McInnes might wonder if leaving the stability of St Johnstone for Bristol City was the right move, but he is also convinced that, with certain additions to the squad this month, he would have led the npower Championship's bottom side to safety.
He spent only 15 months at Ashton Gate, inheriting a team that was in relegation trouble, saving them from the drop, but then encountering further difficulties this season.
McInnes' work at St Johnstone was continually impressive, leading the club to the first division title then establishing them in the Premier League. He was widely considered to be among the leading young managers of his generation, but setbacks don't discriminate on the basis of reputation. He will always feel that his work at Bristol City was left incomplete, but even painful lessons have to be learned.
"The next job is important," McInnes said. "I worked with Geoff Brown at St Johnstone which was a real solid relationship. That's really important, that you have that network of support behind you as a manager. For all the limitations we had at St Johnstone, we had a great working relationship. I have plans, my wife has plans for the next few weeks, but managing is what I do and I'd like to think wherever I go, the experiences I've had, good and bad, will serve me well.
"Bristol City hasn't soured me. The situation I inherited was a lot graver than the one they're currently facing. We managed to keep the club up from a real desperate situation. We always knew it was challenging, because we had to reduce the wage bill by half, but we still felt January was an important month. If we could have got one or two defenders in, we had players middle-to-front who could have kept us in the league. It was disappointing, but I wish them well. They're good people and there's a fantastic support, who were really kind to me."
There will be an opportunity for redemption in time. McInnes travelled widely as a player, including a spell in France with Toulouse, as well as featuring in the top flights in Scotland and England, so his record remains persuasive enough for another chairman to offer that chance. It is only patience that he will need to find to guide him through a spell on the sidelines. "Every experience you can learn from, and I certainly learned in my time [at Bristol City]," McInnes said. "I'm disappointed, but we move on."
Contextual targeting label: