Gary Irvine can count on the support of Gordon Strachan, Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty as he takes his first steps on the managerial ladder at Forfar.
Irvine has been appointed on a permanent basis by the Station Park club after they were impressed with Forfar’s late, yet unsuccessful rally towards League One survival under his short spell as caretaker player-boss.
And with Irvine now keen to make his mark to try and mastermind a League Two promotion push he won’t be afraid to lean on the shoulders of some of Scottish football’s most experienced coaches.
Irvine began his career at Celtic during the Strachan era and worked with both Docherty and McInnes at St Johnstone.
“I’ve had great support from people like Tony Docherty, Derek McInnes and Gordon Strachan.”
All three have managed at the very top during the last few decades.
Strachan enjoyed a 24-year managerial career with Coventry, Southampton and Middlesbourgh and spells at Celtic and Scotland.
And McInnes and Docherty worked together at St Johnstone, Bristol and Aberdeen over the last 14 years.
Irvine, 36, tookover from Stuart Malcolm in early April and worked closely with Docherty in the League One run-in.
“Tony has been a huge source of support to me since I started,” said former Dundee and St Johnstone star Irvine. “He was assistant manager to Derek McInnes when I was a player at St Johnstone and I always had a great rapport with him.
“He is regarded as one of the best coaches in the country and has a wealth of experience from his time at St Johnstone and Aberdeen.
“You don’t get asked to come along and support the Scotland squad if you aren’t a top coach so having him with me at Forfar has been great.
“He’s promised me his support whenever I need it. He’s always on the end of a phone and always willing to come in and help me in person.
“I’ve had great support from people like Derek and Gordon Strachan. I think the board at Forfar have recognised that I have very experienced people willing to back me.”
Irvine’s appointment comes after he helped Forfar win two out of their three final games in a last-minute survival surge.
Their late revival wasn’t enough to keep Loons in League One but does suggest that better times could be just around the corner for the Angus club.
“I want my players to think positively,” added Irvine. “I want them to remember what they achieved in the last few games and take that into next season.
“I’m a very positive person and as a player I’ve always been a hard-working, honest professional.
“My goal is to have a team that reflects my character with players giving their very best week-in, week-out at a club that is very professional in its’ outlook.
“The season has ended and we have to accept we have been relegated. That’s a reality we can’t hide from.
“It’s not nice but it’s not a time to look back, it’s a time to look forward and this is the start of a new journey.
“I want my players to be confident, brave and to work hard and I want our club to be professional in everything it does.
“Forfar is a great club and the town is very proud of its’ football team. The club has a great history and I want to play my part in bringing future success to it.”
Forfar chairman Scott Murdie has praised Irvine for the ‘superb relationship’ he has built up with the players during his short spell as caretaker.
“We were delighted to offer the manager role to Gary,” said Murdie. “He impressed the board as a player, captain and in recent weeks in the interim manager role.
“His organisation and attention to detail have been first class and he has built up a superb relationship with the players.
“Gary is already working to build a squad that would be competitive back in League One, which is obviously our primary aim.”
“We were very impressed with Gary’s interview. It was one of the best that any of us have been involved with – both in football and in our varied professional lives.
“He had prepared in a meticulous and thoughtful manner, covering all aspects of the role of manager and addressing the challenges the club faces.
“He provided a thorough and insightful analysis of the squad and where we need to strengthen to compete in League Two.
“Gary is already working to build a squad that would be competitive back in League One, which is obviously our primary aim.
“He knows it will be a tough job but he displays a quiet, assured determination to meet the challenge.”