Sometimes a clean break is exactly what’s needed to move forward and progress in any walk of life. 

For Derek McInnes at Kilmarnock, that’s certainly the scenario he’s faced with this summer.  

Numerous players will leave the club over the coming days as their contracts expire, while the process to acquire new additions will be significantly ramped up by the boss and his aide Russ Richardson. 

There will also be a new look to the manager’s backroom staff by the time pre-season comes about in a little over three weeks. That’s mainly because McInnes’ long-term right-hand man Tony Docherty has departed the Rugby Park to take over the reins at Dundee. 

After 14 years working together, the well-renowned No.2 decided to join the Dens Park side as they secured him as Gary Bowyer’s replacement. It was a shock to many, and probably to McInnes himself who insists that the 52-year-old displayed no signs of wanting to go it alone.  

While McInnes wishes his old mate all the best on his new path, he admits it allows Killie to gain freshness as they aim to rebuild this summer, as he pointed to some wisdom passed down from Walter Smith and others. 

READ MORE: The burning issues facing Derek McInnes ahead of Kilmarnock rebuild

“We’ve worked together for such a long time,” McInnes said. “Tony was a youth coach at Dundee United when I was there as a player. He was still in that job when I took him to St Johnstone as my assistant.   

“I think it’s a good opportunity for him. Doc lives in Broughty Ferry, there’s a lot of things ticking the box for him.   

“It allows me to restructure things here and have that freshen, that’s always important for any manager. Any senior manager you speak to, Walter always used to say it, Sir Alex would say it and David Moyes has said it, you need to change your assistant every few years as it keeps things fresh.   

“Dundee’s a good club for Tony to start with and it gives us a real opportunity to start afresh. 

“I don’t think it’s anything he’s been harbouring for a while, but when Callum (Davidson) rejected the chance to join Dundee, suddenly it probably made a lot of sense to Doc to try go for it. The fact he was keen to go for it would suggest that he is ready. I really wish him well with it. It was all amicable.   

“He becomes a rival, which is interesting! We also have Barry (Robson) in the league, we had Callum last year who was an ex-player of mine and Lee Johnson who is an ex-player of mine, it probably just demonstrates how old I am!  

“You always come up against people that you played with or worked with before. Obviously, Tony and I go back a long way. When that fixture comes around it will be competitive as normal.”  

Asked directly about appointing a replacement, McInnes remained coy but provided an update. He added: “Yeah, we’re good to go. I know exactly what we’re looking to do. The new management team will be there in place for pre-season.”  

It’s understood that Chris Burke will not be promoted to become Killie’s new assistant manager. 

McInnes has held talks with all out-of-contract players at the club and has offered new terms to some, with a retained list expected by Saturday at the latest. The former Aberdeen manager admits some discussions were very tough because plenty of those being released have given so much to the cause.  

But with the need to recruit greater quality and run with a smaller squad, such decisions were essential to ensuring Killie are able to kick on next term.  

READ MORE: Dundee announce Tony Docherty as manager after Gary Bowyer departure

He said: “I’d like to work with a tighter squad, I think we had too many last season, not through any fault of our own it’s just the way it was. We’d like to work with four or five less and give encouragement to the younger guys, the likes of David Watson and Bobby Wales came through this season giving encouragement to some of the academy players coming through.  

“We’re predominantly looking to strengthen the starting XI, we want to be as strong as we possibly can be and have that healthy competition throughout the squad. 

“Over the last couple of days, we’ve had a lot of difficult conversations and decisions to make as it is for every manager at this stage of a season, particularly with lads who have done well for me and this club. 

“Either part of a Championship winning team or playing their part in keeping a team up, but I think, like everything, there is a recognition we need to try and change things. The demand changes on me and the club next season. 

“The demand is still to stay in the league, but we want to look further afield now and be 12 or 13 points better off. If we can do that, it gets you into the region of the top six and Europe, which is what we have to try and do. 

“So, there is a lot of pressure on the recruitment part of it and I feel we are more ready to deal with that than last season.”