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Kenny Shiels' Kilmarnock exit leaves Scottish football far less colourful place

By Stuart McKinley

Throughout football there are many managers with three personas.

One is for the dressing room, one for the media and a third that is on show in public.

There is, however, only one Kenny Shiels.

What you see is what you get with him. He is exactly the same in private as he is in public and if you don't like that, then it's your problem, not his.

When you know Kenny, though, you can't help but like him. His enthusiasm for football is infectious. He lives and breathes the game. He could talk for hours about players, systems, coaching and development structures, and you'd never get tired of listening.

It's no surprise that his eldest son Dean plays professionally and his eldest daughter married one of Kenny's former players, Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

Football is in the family DNA.

His talking, though, has landed him in trouble while manager of Kilmarnock, and ultimately what he said over the last couple of years led to his departure from the Scottish Premier League club yesterday.

Kenny Shiels doesn't mean to rub people up the wrong way, again it's other people's problem if they don't like what he says.

His only crime is honesty.

He is the type of person who won't let things sit, if he has something to say, then he has to say it, as he sees it.

And once he has had his say, that's it. He doesn't fall out with people and doesn't hold grudges – he has better things to do with his time.

He won't duck questions either. There are never any politician-style stock answers from Kenny. No talking a lot but saying nothing.

In short he's a journalist's dream because there's always a story with him and before he was removed from his post almost every press conference while he was manager of Kilmarnock brought headlines in the Scottish papers.

It was the most recent that was the biggest. Every other manager in the SPL was probably thinking the same thing when Celtic manager Neil Lennon had a moan after the Player of the Year shortlist was revealed without a Hoops player included.

It was Kenny though who came out and said: "Celtic make a song and dance about everything, don't they?" He followed that up by branding them "Paranoid FC".

Fines and touchline bans hadn't altered his attitude – at 57-years-old he was never going to change – and the Scottish FA had grown tired of hauling him in front of their disciplinary chiefs.

Kilmarnock are about to be hit with a hefty fine by the SFA as a punishment for Shiels stepping out of line once too often.

They will find out the extent of that on Friday week, but there are suggestions that it will be as much as £100,000.

It's money that they can ill afford, the last straw, and that's why the camel's back broke and Shiels was dismissed – the club's 'mutual agreement' line holding very little water.

The SPL is a totally different world from the Irish League.

Scottish papers waited for every golden nugget from Kenny. His quotes were manna from heaven to them on a slow news day.

Kenny was no different when he was the manager of Carrick Rangers, Coleraine, Ballymena United and Larne though.

He once famously had a week-long spat in the newspapers with Linfield boss David Jeffrey after Ballymena had beaten the Blues at Windsor Park. On another occasion he branded Glentoran boss Roy Coyle a 'cheque book manager' while championing his own cause in developing young players.

The difference is that there is no media circus in the Irish League. There was nobody in power on a mission to gag him – not that it would have worked anyway.

Instead most people had a chuckle and got on with it.

With no Old Firm battles for a while, Kenny Shiels made Scottish football interesting and it's a lot worse off today than it was before.

Belfast Telegraph


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