REPLACING Steve Clarke as Kilmarnock manager was always going to be an arduous task for the Rugby Park board given his extraordinary achievements at the Ayrshire club during the past two seasons.

But by bringing in one former Chelsea assistant to take over from another they have quickly turned the feeling of despondency among their supporters about the departure of Clarke into a sense of excitement about what the future holds under Angelo Alessio.

Alessio may only have worked under his friend and former team mate Antonio Conte at Siena, Juventus, Italy and Chelsea. The high level, though, that he has been involved in the game at as a player and a coach and the success which he has enjoyed in both roles make him an ambitious and interesting appointment.

It is, too, good for Scottish football as a whole. The club game in this country in recent years has been boosted by the arrival of the likes of Brendan Rodgers, Clarke and Steven Gerrard. All three were highly regarded in England and their willingness to work here raised both the profile and standing of the sport as well the interest in it. So will Alessio.

It will certainly add an element of intrigue having an Italian with such an impressive curriculum vitae plying his trade in the Premiership. Will Kilmarnock continue to be a thorn in the flesh of their domestic rivals in the league and cup competitions with him at the helm? It will be fascinating finding out.

European football will certainly not hold any fears for Alessio. He is well placed to deal with for the Europa League qualifiers next month having been involved in the Champions League regularly. The former midfielder also won the UEFA Cup with Juventus back in 1990. He should, then, know exactly how to approach the fixtures.

The 54-year-old has experience as a manager in his own right having spent stints in the dugout at Imolese, Massese and SPAL in Serie C, Serie D and Serie A respectively in his homeland before joining forces with Conte. So being the man in charge, not least being the individual who irate supporters blame when performances and results fall short of expectations, will not be an entirely new experience to him.

It is unclear at this stage exactly what Kilmarnock can expect from their team under their new head coach next term. Alessio will have his own views on the game that he will been keen to put into practice. He will, though, undoubtedly have learned greatly from Conte, who has moved on to Inter Milan, during the past decade. It will be no great surprise, then, if his philosophy is not dissimilar.

His compatriot successfully ended a long spell in the doldrums for Juventus by switching from the 4-2-4 formation which he had previously advocated at Bari, Atalanta and Siena to a 4-3-3 and then a 3-5-2 in order to suit the personnel he had at his disposal. The Turin club, who had gone nine long years without lifting the Italian title, were crowned champions three seasons running.

Conte was renowned as a defensive and counter attacking coach who liked his teams to build play gradually from the back, but who also, on occasion, reverted on long balls upfield. Another trademark of his sides was their willingness to press aggressively high up the park to quickly win back the ball. There is no guarantee his one-time understudy will be the same. But he is sure to have been influenced by his long-term associate.

Alessio is used, no disrespect to Chris Burke, Stuart Findlay and Stephen O’Donnell, to working with a far higher calibre of player than those he will inherit at Kilmarnock. At Juventus he could call on Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro del Piero among others. When he was at Chelsea he worked with the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.

Can he, as Clarke did so successfully, get a group of hard-working professionals to gel and overachieve against clubs with far bigger fans bases, not to mention budgets, like Aberdeen, Celtic Hearts and Rangers? He certainly won’t have significant funds to strengthen his squad. It will be a considerable challenge for him.

Alessio could find his best players are sold in the coming weeks as a result of the success which Kilmarnock have enjoyed. It will be no great surprise if Eamonn Brophy, who made his debut for Scotland against Cyprus earlier this month, and O’Donnell are targeted. Their current employers will be unable to retain their services if suitable offers are tabled.

He should, though, be able to use his contacts in the game in England and abroad to secure the services of players on loan who can improve his side. That was something that Clarke did with noteworthy results.

Having Alex Dyer, who was brought in by his previous incumbent and whose services have been retained, there to assist him should help to ensure that it is a seamless transition. It is sure, however, to be a culture shock for him. Scottish football is different from English football both in standard and many other respects. The track record of foreign managers in the past is mixed to say the least.

Still, Kilmarnock, who had been heavily linked with Livingston manager Gary Holt since Clarke departed, should be applauded for once again thinking outside of the box and taking a risk on somebody different who could, if the gamble pays off, bring continued success and keep their fans filing through the turnstiles.

The response to the announcement on internet messageboards and social media websites yesterday was certainly hugely positive. Even opposition supporters were impressed.

Alessio is far better known as being a No.2 to his friend and former Juve team mate Conte, but that didn’t exactly hinder his predecessor Clarke during the past two seasons.