Jim Goodwin was rough and tumble on the park, but off it he is the centre of calmness.
The Irishman leads a different life to the one he used to live as a professional footballer. Accustomed to the normal 9-5 routine, he is thrown back into the footballing world on a TuesdaY, Thursday and Saturday as the manager of Championship side Alloa Athletic.
Coming straight from his work in East Kilbride, Goodwin was in his manager’s office, preparing for his return to Paisley as his Alloa side get set to take on Goodwin’s former employers St Mirren on Scottish Cup duty.
The Wasps are undefeated in six Championship games, with a hell for leather style of play paying dividends for the club’s fortunes. Rather than hoping to snatch a dull draw, Goodwin will take the Wasps to Paisley with that same style, which looks likely to save their status as a Championship club.
Rather than reminisce on his time as a professional player for the Buddies, Goodwin only has one thought going into the Scottish Cup clash. Victory at all costs. No changing of tactics or working out Oran Kearney’s style of play, just focusing on the delivery of a famous win.
Rejecting the Buddies
It could all have been so different for Goodwin though. Just last May, the Irishman was given permission to speak to his old club about the vacant managers position. It’s the following January and Goodwin is adamant he made the correct choice. He has ambitions though, and Goodwin will act on them when the time comes.
He told NTOF: “I stand by what I decided after speaking to St Mirren in the summer. It just wasn’t the right time.
“I didn’t feel there was enough time to put a squad together, from the interview process, to when the first competitive game was going to be played. I had made lots of promises to people at Alloa too, so I didn’t feel I could walk away from Alloa during the summer.
“The chairman and the board are fully aware of what I want to do. I’m in absolutely no hurry to become a professional manager. If it happens and it’s the right club that’s great, but if it doesn’t happen anytime soon, it doesn’t. The job I’m doing outside of football is something I enjoy. It’s not something I see myself doing for the next 20 or 30 years though.
“My ambition is to be a full-time manager and to be successful in doing so. I think far too many part time managers in the past have walked into full time management too soon. I’ve seen a lot of guys try, fail, and struggle to get back into management. My main focus is when is when I become full time, I stay there for the next 40 or 50 years.
“I’ve always been quite calculated in everything I have done in football. I always sit down and weigh up my options. The one I made in the summer was the right choice for me.”
No love lost on Saturday
The Alloa boss is a modern-day St Mirren legend. Having delivered the League Cup to Paisley in 2013, the Irishman will always be fondly remembered.
Whilst there will be no time for kisses and cuddles on Saturday, Goodwin admits it’ll be nice to see old friends.
“I’ve only seen them once in the flesh this season. It was against St Johnstone on Boxing Day, so with Alloa not playing that day, it was a great opportunity for me to see them play.
“I still keep in touch with a number of people at St Mirren, and obviously fans of the club. I still speak to former teammates, players still at the club, and people who were there with me. It’ll be a strange one from my point of view, going back there, and trying to beat them for a change! It’ll be my first competitive game back since leaving the club.
“Once it’s kick off time it’ll be a case of knuckling down and doing the best we can for Alloa.
“I fully expect St Mirren to have a different squad from the one on Boxing Day. How much of an advantage that’ll be I’m not sure. Their formation and personnel will be different. Since the window has opened, I think they have moved on about a dozen players, no doubt before the game they’ll probably sign some more. It’ll be interesting to see who we come up against.
“I don’t want to get caught up in the emotional side of the occasion with me going back to St Mirren. It’ll be business as usual from our point of view.”
A cup shock is on the cards
Goodwin does not shy away from Alloa potentially shocking the Buddies. Instead he embraces the prospect of getting one over his former employers. The two sides’ form couldn’t be much different.
Alloa are undefeated in six whilst St Mirren have only have one win from six, and the Alloa boss hopes he has hit St Mirren at the right time.
He said: “They will be huge favourites going into this game no doubt. They are going through a transition phase just now though, so that could be an advantage. The St Mirren signings must get used to a new manager, a new philosophy from what they are used to. If you look at a player’s point of view, they need to get to grips with each other, that doesn’t happen over night.
“This is St Mirren’s first game back after the winter break. We are hoping there will be a few things that will fall in our favour.
“This could be one of the potential shocks of the round. I’m not going to ask my side to play a different way to what they have been all season in the league just because we are playing Premiership opposition. We aren’t going to park the bus and try to nick a replay. We are going to try and win the game, it’s as simple as that.”