Former Falkirk manager Steven Pressley insists the Bairns have come of age after conceding that he was ‘wet behind the ears’ when he riled opposition bosses during the club’s relegation season six years ago.
Pressley, now in charge of English League One outfit Fleetwood Town, is delighted to see Peter Houston’s team on the verge of a return to the Scottish top-flight after fending off Hibs to set up a two-legged play-off final against Kilmarnock.
Ironically, it was Killie that condemned Pressley’s Falkirk to second tier football in 2010 after a dramatic last day relegation decider between the teams finished goal-less at Rugby Park.
He said: “I think the club deserve a lot of credit, they’re in a good place in terms of stability and I think that’s the contrast between the two clubs in the six years.
“There was a rebuilding job at Falkirk that I was part of six years ago. It was about development of young players and to progress the club forward and I think it’s gone full circle.
“I don’t think these things would have been achievable without the academy system being in place and that’s what’s really helped Falkirk get over the disappointment of relegation.
“A lot of players have been sold and the academy allowed Falkirk to trade their way out of a very difficult predicament.
“They were very fortunate that they had that in place and that the likes of former manager John Hughes and his staff, the likes of Ross Wilson, George Craig, all had a vision for the club.
“The vision that those people had has ensured the Falkirk has come back as a much stronger club.
“Their budget has increased now and they are in a situation that they have stability and I think that’s quite a contrast to where we find Kilmarnock now.
“Peter Houston has done a wonderful job and the one thing they have got going into this is momentum, something that Kilmarnock don’t have. Momentum is big in football and confidence is big in football but they have that and I would love to see them carrying the job through.
“I think Falkirk would be a great addition to the Premiership.”
Pressley irked some of his fellow top-flight managers when he made a bold promise that he would keep Falkirk in the league when he took over the reins from Eddie May in February 2010.
Then Kilmarnock boss Jimmy Calderwood was particularly unimpressed and the 42-year-old admits he was naive back then.
He added: “I had made a couple of bold statements in my first real position as manager.
“I had never been a manager before and when I was asked to take over at that time, I had to try to bring a confidence and siege mentality to try and galvanise the group.
“In order to do that – I was a little bit wet behind the ears – I made some statements that ruffled a few feathers.
“I think they were all wound up by it, everybody that was fighting for their lives that season were.
“In hindsight, would I do it again? I don’t know. You always learn from these moments. At that moment, you do what you believe is best and that’s what I did.
“If you asked the players they would probably say that they enjoyed what went with it at the time because we had a brilliant spirit in the group, there was no doubt about that.
“We had a togetherness and a real siege mentality that I wanted to create.
“It was an afternoon, in reflection, that I felt we had the better chances in the game and we could have potentially won it but it wasn’t to be – and the rest is history.”
*Steven Pressley has launched a fierce attack on the SPFL play-off system, insisting it serves to protect Premiership clubs.
The Fleetwood Town manager is hoping former club Falkirk can return to the top-flight by seeing off Kilmarnock in a two-legged promotion decider.
After finishing runners-up in the Championship, Falkirk came out on top in an exhausting semi-final double header against Hibs, who had themselves overcome Raith Rovers at the quarter-final stage.
It is a different story for Kilmarnock, who finished eleventh in the top-flight, as they only have to play in the final.
Pressley said: “I think the play-off system is an absolute farce.
“It is so typical of what Scotland does, everything has to be complicated in order to protect the clubs within the top division.”