ALEX SMITH will set a new record as Scottish football’s oldest-ever modern-day manager this weekend – but insists to call him ‘old-school’ would be an insult.
The veteran former St Mirren and Aberdeen boss is just three months short of his 78th birthday, but has been placed in charge of Falkirk in the wake of Peter Houston’s departure.
He outstrips the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Craig Brown and the late Sir Bobby Robbson, who all worked into their 70s, and will come up just short of matching the legendary former Rangers boss Bill Struth, who retired aged 79.
And Smith, who had a pacemaker fitted after a heart scare in 2014 but returned quickly to his role as the Bairns’ technical director, is adamant he remains willing and able to do all he can to turn around fortunes at the club following a winless start to the league campaign.
The ‘father figure’ of Scottish football, whose last full-time job in management ended when he was sacked by Ross County in 2005, claims he still thrives on the buzz of being involved every day in football and rejects any notion his dugout style is from a bygone era.
“I think it probably is some kind of record,” he said when asked about returning to management at his advanced years. “It’s certainly unusual.
“But it’s about how you are and how you feel about the game. I’ve been in football all my life and I thrive on it every single day.
“Because of the type of job I have I can keep myself reasonably fit and sharp. I’m up for the job, okay.
“It’s great, you get that excitement again and that feeling that I wish I was just starting over and I could get another 40-odd years in management. It’s just superb.
“You’ve always got something to prove, and I would want to prove I can manage this club at this stage in my life.
“That the wisdom I hope I’ve gathered over the years can be passed on to the rest of the young players, and I hope it makes them better. That’s always the challenge.”
Craig Levein was described as an old-school manager when he took over again at Hearts recently, with some using the term as a criticism of the former Scotland boss’s more ‘traditional’ style.
But Smith balks at any suggestion he cannot relate to modern-day footballers just because his own career began all the way back in the 1950s.
“I look at that as an insult,” he added. “I don’t like people calling me old-school.
“To survive in football – or any industry – you’ve got to move with the times. I’ve tried to move with the times, apart from using laptops!
“In football, you’ve got to move with the new thinking. You can’t keep looking to the past and saying football was better back then and the players were better back then.
“If you don’t move with the times then the players will turn off you, because you’re not relating to them the way they want you to.”