STEVE Clarke has been rightly heartened to see an increasing number of talented young Scottish professionals go overseas to ply their trade in recent seasons.

He firmly believes the experience which the likes of Jack Hendry, Aaron Hickey and Lewis Ferguson, to name just three, have gained playing on foreign fields have benefitted the national team enormously.

His is confident that Josh Doig, the Hellas Verona left back who has been drafted into his squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Norway after Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney were ruled out by injuries, will not find the step up to full international level too demanding if he is called upon in the next fortnight after spending a season and a half in Italy.

Coaches, not just players, can increase their skillset and knowledge enormously by leaving their homeland as well. So a big high five to Robbie Neilson for moving to the United States this week and joining USL Championship franchise Tampa Bay Rowdies.

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The softly-spoken Scot will doubtless become an even better manager working in that ultra-competitive league on the other side of the Atlantic in the years to come.

The antipathy felt towards Neilson by certain supporters of Hearts, the club he had represented for 10 years as a player, was always a bit bizarre given how well he did during both of his spells in charge.

Fans staged angry protests outside of Tynecastle and demanded he be sacked when, admittedly after a Scottish Cup defeat to Highland League minnows Brora Rangers, his side was sitting on top of the Championship.

A large number of them remained unconvinced the former Scotland centre half was the right man to lead them forward even after he had steered the Gorgie outfit to third place in the cinch Premiership and the Scottish Cup final in their first season back in the top flight. He should underline what a good manager he is in his new role.

The Herald: It is a shame that Lee McCulloch, his assistant at both Dundee United and Hearts, will not be taking up the invitation to join his old compadre Stateside. Or even be donning his tracksuit again and returning to coaching in future. The former Motherwell, Wigan Athletic, Rangers and Scotland player has a wealth of experience and a great deal to offer.

McCulloch, however, has decided football has become too “laptopy” for him. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland before he did co-commentary work at Rangers’ fourth Europa League group game against Sparta Prague at Ibrox on Thursday night, he revealed that he is going to be concentrating on media work moving forward. 

"The invite was there, but I've chosen not to go down that path again,” he said. "I can't see myself going into coaching, assistant managing or managing. I just don't think it's for me. The coaching side of it has changed a little bit, it's quite laptopy and not enough on the eye.”

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McCulloch is not the only individual of his generation to feel a little disillusioned with the data-driven sport football has evolved into. Supporters of a certain age all bemoan what the game they love has become whenever they spot a young up-and-coming manager clutching an iPad on the touchline or speaking about xG in their post-match interviews.

Gavin Strachan, the gifted Celtic first team coach, was lambasted by supporters of the Parkhead club when he was filmed in the dugout looking at his laptop during their catastrophic 2020/21 season. It was, for some deranged onlookers, the clear reason their bid to complete 10-In-A-Row had imploded in such spectacular fashion

After appointing Benfica analyst Antoine Ortega to his backroom team early last year, the then Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou joked that he was not especially au fait with the terminology favoured by so modern day football enthusiasts. “The one that gets me is XL because that’s all my clothes,” he said. “The analytics thing is well beyond me.”

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The Greek-Australian, however, certainly used the facts and figures he was supplied with by his colleagues to devastating effect. And he has continued to do so since moving to Spurs back in June. His side are just a point off top spot in the Premier League thanks to a mixture of his old school know how and new scientific methods. 

Postecoglou is not the only older coach to do so. Carlos Ancelotti has not won the Champions League, the Copa del Ray and La Liga  titles since returning to Real Madrid in Spain two years ago by ignoring the reams of data which the Bernabeu boffins supply him with on a daily basis.

But having a keen eye for a player, being able to put on intense and interesting training sessions, showing sound man management skills and commanding the respect of your charges are all, as Ange, Ancelotti and many others have shown, qualities which are every bit as important in football management in 2023 as they have always been.