Interview | New Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh on pain of Falkirk exit, embarking on managerial career & drawing on Jim Jefferies and Peter Houston advice



NEW EDINBURGH CITY boss James McDonaugh insists the lure of coaching is like a drug after bouncing back from his Falkirk heartbreak by embarking on his first managerial role.

McDonaugh was Peter Houston’s right-hand man at the Bairns for three years and helped the club reach a Scottish Cup final and secure successive second-placed finishes in the Championship.

However, he was afforded a glimpse into the brutal nature of the business when Houston was sacked last month following a dreadful start to their league campaign.

McDonaugh and colleague Alan Maybury departed alongside the veteran gaffer, and he readily admits the last fortnight has been among the most difficult of his career. Nevertheless, that did not dissuade the highly-rated coach from stepping into the firing line at Edinburgh City.

McDonaugh said: “It’s been a really tough time out the game. We had three great years at Falkirk and I believe a Scottish Cup final, finishing above Hibs for the first time in my life-time, then to split Hibs and Dundee United was a great achievement.

“But a decision was made based on four league games and that was that. You need to take it on the chin and try to turn the negatives into positives. It is all experience to use in your next challenge and learn from mistakes. Hopefully Edinburgh City are going to benefit from that.

“You go through those bad times and wonder ‘why do we keep going back for more?’ That’s just the lure of the game, you can’t get enough of it. It’s like a drug. If we didn’t have football, what else would we do?

“I knew I wanted to be a football manager and I always said that I would know when the time was right. I would get a feeling for it. When Edinburgh City approached me, I got that feeling. Everything about the club – the people, the facilities, the location, the ambition – was just the right fit.

McDonaugh, who will be assisted by former Scotland internationalist Craig Beattie and ex-Hibs coach Colin Jack, takes charge with City languishing second-bottom of League Two, one point ahead of Cowdenbeath.

He continued: “The club aren’t in the best of positions in the league, and I’ll be dropping from full-time to part-time, so I know it will be a challenge – but I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.

“In saying that, this isn’t a club or a group of players where you walk in and say ‘what am I going to do with this?’ We have some good players here.

“Falkirk played them in pre-season and I was impressed with what I saw. It is a case of bringing the best out of them, getting the confidence up and finding a formula to grow and win football matches.”

McDonaugh boasts a wealth of coaching experience, with he and Maybury responsible for much of the hands-on training at Falkirk in the past three campaigns. Prior to that, he cultivated a fine reputation during four years as the head of academy coaching at Hibs.

However, he knows management is an altogether different challenge and he has vowed not to be too proud to ask for advice.

McDonaugh added: “I’ve actually been amazed by the amount of people from within the game congratulating me and wishing me well. It’s killing my phone battery! Hopefully they stay in touch when I’m trying to loan their players.

“That’s brilliant and you are always looking to draw on the experience and advice of people that have been in the game. I’ve been in touch with Peter Houston every day since leaving Falkirk and at Edinburgh City I’ve got Jim Jefferies as sporting director.

“Guys with that sort of experience are invaluable. You might not always agree with their advice, you might do your own thing – but it would be crazy not to draw on their time in the game.”

McDonaugh’s first match in charge of City comes tomorrow evening when they host Stenhousemuir at Ainslie Park in the second round of the Scottish Cup.