Stevie Crawford has not ruled out joining Robbie Neilson at Dundee United one day.
However, he revealed he would have lost sleep had he left Dunfermline to become Neilson’s assistant boss when asked to do so by his pal.
Crawford was the man the new Tangerines boss wanted by his side, with the former Scotland international having been his number two at both Hearts and MK Dons.
The pair will be reunited today at East End Park but they will be in opposing camps, with Crawford having decided to respect a handshake agreement he made with Pars chairman Ross McArthur and stay in his role as reserve team coach.
The respect Crawford has for Neilson shines through every sentence but instead of standing next to his mate in the away dugout this afternoon he will be trying to help the home team secure victory.
Crawford said: “I am delighted for Robbie, first and foremost, that after eight or nine months out of the game he has managed to find himself a club like Dundee United.
“I am really happy for him because I really enjoyed working with him.
“After the highs we had at Hearts we went down together to MK Dons and the first half of the season was great before we didn’t do so well after that.
“We lost our jobs but, while you can’t be too picky in this industry, I think he did his homework during his time out and maybe opportunities came up that he didn’t feel were the right fit.
“He knows this one had to be a positive for him on a personal note.
“Robbie will have a lot of drive and ambition and will have reflected on stuff that we did at Hearts and MK. He will be all the better for that.
“I think United will be a good fit for him.
“But, come Saturday, my responsibility is to watch the game from the main stand and see if there is anything I can pick up that can help the gaffer (Allan Johnston) and (assistant) Sandy Clark.
“I will be desperate for us to get three points.
“When the phone calls are made on Saturday night or Sunday between Robbie and I then maybe I will have that wee edge on him.”
Crawford explained why he decided to stick with the Pars – at least until the end of the season – and claimed Neilson was sympathetic when told his reasons.
He said: “I think Robbie was probably keen for me to try and join up with him.
“But he was also understanding about my situation at Dunfermline.
“We do speak to each other, not every week but there is communication with him if we feel the need to do so.
“That’s the way both our working relationship and friendship was built.
“He knew that when I joined this club I had a responsibility after John (Potter) moved down to Sunderland.
“One of the big decisions, after speaking to the chairman, was to commit for a minimum of this season because it wouldn’t have been fair to the kids, first and foremost.
“I felt it was right to see that out at Dunfermline.
“Now people will put two and two together and say: ‘Does that mean Stevie is going to go at the end of the season?’
“Football is football and you never know what’s going to happen.
“What I will say is that I loved working with Robbie but I am enjoying my role at Dunfermline at the moment. That will get 100% focus.
“Whatever happens in the future will happen but the feelings that I have for this club definitely made it easier for me to turn around to the chairman and say that I would honour his handshake.
“Robbie was fine about it and nothing was done behind anyone’s back or anything like that.
“It showed how strong our relationship is, in a way, that Robbie showed me respect by wanting me to go and work with him.
“It also wasn’t just about honouring the handshake.
“I am keen to be involved in coaching and managing and I am doing my pro licence at the moment.
“Even when I shook the chairman’s hand I knew that something could come up tomorrow that might mean the handshake is broken.
“But when I looked Ross in the eye and we chatted about what he was trying to do here I felt it was right for me.
“I wouldn’t have been able to go to sleep otherwise.
“Having committed to helping the kids at Dunfermline I was able to sleep easily and sometimes in life you have to do the right thing.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work with Robbie because I enjoyed it before and he knows that.
“There is a just a professionalism for me that when you commit to something you see it through.
“The alternative is that you go back on the handshake and get labelled that type of person.
“So Robbie asked the question but he sort of knew my answer anyway. He said in a backhanded compliment that that was why he liked me being his right-hand man. He had that trust in me.
“The friendship is still there and football being what it is you never know what is going to happen in six months’ time, or a year or three years.”