The wheels are in motion as Dunfermline Athletic seek their next head coach.
The Fife outfit fully expect to be inundated with applications for what remains a very attractive post following the resignation of Stevie Crawford, while the bookmakers’ have already drawn up their speculative lists of candidates.
This recruitment process will be a pivotal and exceptionally interesting one, given this is the first time the Pars’ German investors, DAFC Fussball GmbH, will have a say on such a matter.
Will that lead to a left-field appointment? Or will it be a more familiar face? Here, Courier Sport weighs up some of the options already linked with the vacancy — and shines a spotlight on some others worth consideration.
Montrose manager Petrie is the bookmakers’ favourite and a widely popular candidate among the Pars’ fanbase, having been a club legend during 10 years at East End Park from 1993 onwards.
He made 296 appearances for Dunfermline — number 18 on their all-time list — before spending four years in Australia. He ended his playing career with Ross County and since then, his coaching trajectory has been an upwards one.
Petrie, 51, left his job at the helm of Broughty Ferry to take over Montrose when they were at the foot of League 2 in December 2016, subsequently leading the Mo to the title in 2018.
He has solidified the Angus outfit’s status in League 1, continually punching above their weight, playing some excellent football and — this season — securing a playoff place.
Petrie’s stock has soared and many feel that this is his time to take a job which almost seems his destiny.
Currently the manager of League 2 Stirling Albion, former Dunfermline skipper Rutkiewicz is quietly carving out a reputation as a fine young manager.
He has earned rave reviews for his work ethic, man management and style of play, while narrowly missing out on a promotion playoff place this season.
Rutkiewicz, 41, was recently rewarded for his efforts with a new contract until the summer of 2022, meaning that — barring any exit clauses — the Pars would be required to pay compensation.
Nevertheless, he fits the bill of a young, promising coach and, although untested at Championship level, he could feasibly operate under a more experienced director of football or sporting director, should Dunfermline decide to implement that structure.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for John Kennedy when the impending new era at Celtic begins.
Should he search out pastures new, Dunfermline could make a real statement of intent by pursuing the former Scotland defender, who made it to the final two candidates when Hibernian ultimately appointed Jack Ross in November 2019.
The 37-year-old has been tasked with steadying the ship at Celtic in remarkably testing circumstances but remains highly-rated and will not be short of offers going forward.
This may seem like a retrograde suggestion, but there is substance.
Courier Sport understands that Campbell’s relationship with Dunfermline is very healthy since the change of regime at the Pars.
So much so, that when the Fife club have previously considered contingency plans in the event of a change in management (common practice at every club) Campbell’s name has been mentioned.
Campbell has worked miracles at Arbroath and, having been sacked when Dunfermline were leading the old First Division in 1999, there will always be a sense of unfinished business — even at the age of 67.
However, the veteran boss is thought to be sceptical about the notion of working with a sporting director or director of football and, if that is the future at East End Park, Campbell would likely rule himself out of consideration.
Dunfermline looked internally for their previous appointment, promoting then-reserves manager Stevie Crawford to succeed Allan Johnston 28 months ago.
While he did not succeed in leading the Pars back to the top-flight, he was far from a disaster. If the Fifers were to pursue a similar route, Whittaker would be an intriguing option.
The former Rangers, Norwich City and Scotland defender has peerless experience as a player, winning 31 international caps, starring in the English Premier League and claiming nine major honours. Add to that, a UEFA Cup final appearance in 2008.
He has made no secret of his passion for coaching and was part of Crawford’s backroom staff throughout the 2020/21 campaign, combining that with his playing commitments. He is also in the process of attaining his necessary badges.
Should the Pars decide to go with a younger head coach allied with an older head above him, Whittaker could be the sort of name in the frame.
Meggle, 46, is one quarter of the DAFC Fussball GmbH investment team which has purchased 30 per cent of Dunfermline Athletic, with a view to increasing that to a majority stake of 75.1 per cent over the next 12 months.
One of our new investors, Thomas Meggle, firing past Oliver Kahn during a historic 2-1 win for @fcstpauli_EN over Bayern Munich.
How does that rate against a certain goal at Ibrox Mr Leishman😎 👀 https://t.co/NNzWwN4Dsk
— Dunfermline Athletic (@officialdafc) September 2, 2020
The group is already represented by two members on the board of directors and, as such, will play an active role in selecting the next manager and shaping the structure in which he operates.
Meggle’s role within that will be fascinating.
Meggle’s appointment as boss is certainly the least likely outcome (the conflict of interest, for one thing, would be quite something) but, having served as assistant manager of St Pauli for three years — stepping in as interim manager on two occasions — he has the chops at a good level.
A sporting director role — which he also held at St Pauli — is perhaps more likely, or he could simply choose to be a mastermind and sounding board from on-high.
Either way, Dunfermline fans will soon be very familiar with Meggle and he may be a driving force behind the Pars selecting a left-field continental candidate.