Steven MacLean has admitted that the summer rebuild at St Johnstone was a bigger job than he thought it would be.
In his first interview since being sacked as Saints boss, MacLean has reflected on the work that had to be done in the close-season against a backdrop of a big budget cut to address a seven-figure financial loss.
The former cup winner took over from Callum Davidson and helped keep the Perth club in the Premiership.
But he was relieved of his duties at the end of October following a 4-0 defeat to St Mirren, with Saints winless and bottom of the table.
“Keeping the club up was a great achievement for us and we then turned a lot of players round,” said MacLean, who conducted the Scottish Cup quarter-final draw on Sunday.
“I think 17 players left the club.
“But it was a great opportunity for me and I probably wouldn’t change much apart from a couple of things.
“I think we were actually starting to progress in the right way.
“We had a lot of injuries in the first part of the season and we couldn’t build any momentum but I feel like I left them with a squad that’s capable of staying up in the league.
“Unfortunately it didn’t end well but I’ve learned a lot from that.
“I’ve looked back and studied some of the mistakes I made but also things I did well.
“I’ve got a lot of fond memories and whatever I do next, I feel I’ll be a better coach or manager for that spell.
“But hopefully I can get back in soon and make an impact.”
MacLean has put his time away from the sharp end of the game to good use – personally and professionally.
“It’s been great to have had time to spend with the family and it’s the first break I’ve had from football for 25 years,” he said.
“My daughter plays netball for Scotland at under-17s so I’m getting to go to Gibraltar to watch her.
“If a manager’s job came up and it was the right opportunity and somebody wanted me then that would be great but I was never in a rush to be a manager.
“The circumstances happened where Callum (Davidson) lost his job and the club asked me to take over and we did well and they appointed me.
“But I’m happy to go in in any capacity. I enjoy coaching and being out on the grass.
“Management is a lot different and there are more outside influences.
“I’m currently doing my Uefa Pro Licence with the Scottish FA and it has been brilliant. I’ve learned a lot.
“We spent time with Ange Postecoglou, with David Moyes and we’ve been at Brentford as well.
“We’ve heard from Jesse Marsch and Callum Davidson more recently as well so there’s been lots of good experiences and I’ve learned lots from other candidates too.”