New St Mirren manager Oran Kearney won’t be shooting starry-eyed glances at Brendan Rodgers when he kicks off his Paisley reign tonight against his coaching hero.
The new Buddies boss is looking forward to pitting his wits against another Northern Ireland-born manager working in Scotland when Celtic visit the Simple Digital Arena.
The former Coleraine chief – who hopes a deal for Anton Ferdinand can be rushed through in time to see the ex-West Ham defender face Celtic – is a big fan of the double treble-winning Parkhead manager.
“I’m looking forward to locking horns with Brendan – professionally and from an ambition point of view,” said Kearney. “He and Michael O’Neill are the standard bearers for what can be achieved for coaches from my country.
“Both those guys have been exceptional in what they have achieved in a short period of time.
“I had a good conversation with Brendan and also (Hibs boss) Neil Lennon before my first interview in the summer and when I was flying across here on Saturday I got a nice text from him welcoming me across and saying he was looking forward to Friday.
“Did I ever think anything like this would happened to me? It’s hard to say.
“But now that it’s real, I’m not going to be standing ogling Brendan and looking for autographs.
“But I will have an immense amount of pride to stand on the touchline and manage my team for what I hope is the first of many times.
“It’s a cracking game and if I had the choice it’s the one I’d want for my first.
“We’re confident, if we do our job you never know what can happen.”
Kearney confirmed talks with Ferdinand are ongoing and hinted he would be ready to throw the 33-year-old straight into action if possible.
“We’re in negotiations but it’s a matter of whether we can get it over the line in time,” he said. “In an ideal world, to have his experience would be very valuable.”