Airdrie player-boss Rhys McCabe excited by challenge after club avoid ‘merry-go-round’ appointment


Rookie boss Rhys McCabe admits only time will tell if Airdrie appointing him as Ian Murray’s successor is a wise move.

But he says he is excited by the challenge after the Diamonds went outside the box in making him the SPFL’s youngest manager at the age of 29.

The midfielder, who joined the club last season, takes the reins in a player-manager capacity and has brought club captain and cousin Callum Fordyce on board as assistant manager.

They replace Ian Murray and Scott Agnew who both joined Championship side Raith Rovers last week, bringing an end to Murray’s four-year stint at New Broomfield.

Airdrie chiefs moved quickly to replace the man who led the club to the Championship play-off final in the last two seasons, but their bold appointment took many by surprise as they opted to give youth a chance rather than go for an experienced head.

It is a refreshing approach McCabe is all for, even if it wasn’t him landing the role, but he knows the club are taking a chance.

I have told Lanarkshire Live Sport : “I know through my playing career you see the same managers being put from club to club and it’s almost like a merry-go-round.

“So if it wasn’t me [being appointed] I would be supportive of it anyway, with regards to trying something a bit new.

Rhys McCabe is Airdrie player/manager

“Fresh ideas, maybe a different approach to what clubs are used to.

“Who knows? It might be good or bad. Time will tell.

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“But I would be fully supportive of it, even if it wasn’t me.

“If it was someone else in the league and a club was giving them the opportunity and backing to go and implement a modern style that they like, they would gain my support straight away.

“So I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m excited to get going and eager to get back on the pitch with the players.

“The job that Ian had done over the past few seasons was great. Narrowly missing out on promotion was hard to take but it’s a good opportunity for me now.

“I’ll still be looking to play as much as possible, so it’s not like I’m hanging up the boots and just focusing on management.

“We will have a good support structure in place to help me as much as possible, but I still want to help the team on the pitch as much as I can.”

The reaction has been hugely positive from the Diamonds faithful as they hope they’ve found the man who can get them over that elusive final hurdle to the Championship.

And McCabe – who quickly earned hero status at Airdrie last season with his stunning goal in the League Cup win over Motherwell – admits he’s been blown away by the backing he has had since his appointment last Thursday.

He added: “I’ve had messages of support and the relationship that myself and Dycey have with the fans already is great so it has been nice to see some of the things people have sent me about the reaction from the supporters.

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Rhys McCabe sends the ball over the wall and into the Motherwell net
Rhys McCabe sends the ball over the wall and into the Motherwell net

“It’s humbling and great to see.

“The support we generated last year was a big thing and I want to keep that connection and bring everyone together again next season.

“We saw in a few of the games – the Montrose play-off game especially – that having their support there can be a real added advantage for the players.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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