Gary Locke admits the sound of silence from his phone was deafening when he found himself out of work after leaving Kilmarnock – which is why he was so delighted when Raith came calling.
The 40-year-old was officially unveiled at Stark’s Park yesterday as successor to Ray McKinnon, who of course, left the club to take charge of Dundee United.
Locke began his managerial career under the most trying of circumstances overseeing Hearts when they had been hit with a 15-point penalty for entering administration with the club also banned from signing players.
The Jambos ended up being relegated that season and Locke was sacked but he then became assistant to Allan Johnston at Kilmarnock.
When the latter left the managerial post, Locke took over but this season was a disappointing one for the Ayrshire side and he announced he was resigning at the end of January.
Now, he is just delighted to be back in management at Raith.
Locke said: “When you are a manager, the phone is ringing non-stop – it is 24/7 – then when you are out of the game, you don’t hear from as many people and you certainly find out who your friends are.
“It can get a bit worrying when you go a period out of the game and people forget you were ever involved in it.
“So I was over the moon when I got the call to meet the directors at Raith. I was positive about everything they had to say. They are a great, well-run club that won’t spend money it doesn’t have.
“The great thing is I am coming into a football club which is very high in confidence after the season it has just had.
“Everybody here is very much pulling in the same direction and wants to get success. Hopefully we can replicate what they did this season.”
Locke certainly had his critics when he was in charge at Kilmarnock but he does not believe what happened there has had any lasting effect on his standing in the game, saying: “Not really. My reputation is very much intact.
“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I felt I did the right thing at Kilmarnock but there were one or two things, which I don’t really want to go into, that stopped me from doing the job to the best of my ability by the principles that I have.
“The right thing to do was to give someone else the opportunity to take the club on.
“Kilmarnock was a very difficult job – I won’t lie. They have made a lot of cutbacks and it is difficult to keep challenging at the right end of the table when you have to cut your cloth every season.
“That is a chapter of my managerial career which I have obviously learned a lot from, but that is closed now and I just want to do as well as I possibly can here.
“I want to look forward and I’m really looking forward to working with Raith Rovers and with the board, with the local community and with the supporters.
“Hopefully this is a first real chance to stamp my mark on a club.”
Locke will inherit the nucleus of the Rovers squad that did so well under McKinnon.
That is something the new manager appreciates and he is determined that Rovers will be jousting in the play-offs once again next season.
He added: “I’m inheriting a really good squad. I take my hat off to Ray. I know him really well, I did my Pro Licence with him and he did a remarkable job.
“It is about me carrying on what Ray did. The players should be full of confidence.
“I think the play-offs need to be our target. We need to aim high.
“Just look at Leicester in the Premier League. Nobody had them down to win it, but with hard work, spirit and everyone pulling in the same direction, they showed what can be achieved.
“I’m well aware it will be tough as there are a lot of big sides and good sides in the Championship.
“The Scottish Championship now resembles the English Championship a bit in terms of the big clubs that are there but we need to aim high.”
Locke admitted he hadn’t had time to select his backroom staff but he is hoping to sort the situation out as soon as possible.
He said: “I’ve got one or two ideas and I will sit down with the board and hopefully make appointments as quickly as we can. It is important to get everything in place.”
Meanwhile, Raith announced last night that defender Craig Barr has signed a new deal with the club.