The former Kilmarnock manager, speaking as he opened a new five-a-side pitch at a children's hospice, has been keeping his hand in with grassroots coaching since his departure from Rugby Park this summer. Not only has he been impressed with the standard of the kids at his disposal, he feels the Scotland manager's aim of taking this current group of internationals to France 2016 is achievable.
"I think Scotland can qualify for Euro 2016," said Shiels, a former Northern Ireland under-17 coach. "There are more places. It's 24 teams and Scotland are in the top 24 of Europe. That's a realistic target.
"Scotland is a football country," he added. "Even though it's just five million people, look at the players who have come through in the past. Guys like Graeme Souness, Gordon Strachan, and Billy Bremner were all quality players, but would they all play in the English Premier League with so much competition? I don't know if they'd be up to the standard now. That's seems an unbelievable statement, but there is so much competition with players coming from Europe and that's hampering Scottish players.
"But if our youngsters are in the right hands, I can see us developing players like that again. The way to improve young players is to give them more time with coaches who know what they are doing and I can see that in the programme Mark Wotte has devised. That long-term planning is important and it will take eight to 10 years for Scotland to bear the fruit."
As for his own plans to return to more regular employment, the Shiels phone hasn't exactly been red hot. Even Third Lanark haven't been in contact, he jokes, but the Northern Irishman wouldn't be human if he wasn't conscious that the sacking season is round the corner and that his name may be a source of discussion in certain boardrooms - let's say Hibernian and St Mirren - right now.
He feels any stigma attached to his name for those regular brushes with controversy is wrongly apportioned, but is prepared to tone down the rabble rousing for the right club.
"I don't think I deserve it," he said. "I had three incidents in the season before. I've got a dry sense of humour. Sometimes that gets picked up by the media and becomes a big story. You can say things tongue-in-cheek and it comes out as if you are furious. I think people will look at the football coach. You can look at the work at Kilmarnock and all the club records that were broken." Shiels has a right to be proud of his record. Few provincial sides come out on top in a national final against Celtic, or Rangers, and the Northern Irishman feels it is unfair to compare his record with that of Danny Lennon, another previous League Cup winning manager who finds that silverware affords him little protection from sudden speculation about his job.
"There's a bit of a difference," Shiels said. "When I won the trophy, we had a fantastic season. We beat Celtic at Parkhead for the first time in 57 years; we won at Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee and were unbeaten in the Highlands. The difference with Danny's situation and mine is the only game they have won since the League Cup was against Kilmarnock, and we played nine of the youth team. Danny knows they need to get winning matches and I'm sure they will."
His successor at Rugby Park, Allan Johnston, hasn't had things entirely his own way either - even if this was a season in the Shiels masterplan set aside for consolidation ahead of a push for the top six in 2014/15 and European places in 2015/16. "Case history would tell the club would have got into the European positions by 2016," he said matter-of-factly. "But it's difficult for a new manager coming in when there is a structure in place not normal to a Scottish club."
As it so happens, even in Shiels' absence, rowing about the SFA's disciplinary structure continues apace, with the Dundee chairman Scot Gardiner last week saying that his manager John Brown will have to censor himself lest he suffer the same fate as the Nothern Irishman. "It's a valid comment," said the Nothern Irishman, free to speak his mind for once. "I've always felt I've spoken the truth. I certainly think the system can be improved upon."
Kenny Shiels was speaking as he opened a brand new five-a-side synthetic pitch at Robin House children's hospice in Balloch, which has been built with support from Tesco Bank.