Sheffield United’s Stuart McCall on why No 2s are key
The 57-year-old has served in that capacity previously at Bramall Lane and most latterly at Blackpool and he has also learned from some of the best in his playing career and knows the value of a good deputy.
McCall, now right-hand man to Paul Heckingbottom at United, said: “I had a lot of success at Motherwell – in getting into the Champions League and things – and despite bringing all the players in, (assistant) Kenny Black was my best signing.
“I was lucky in my playing career and there were people like Terry Yorath and Mick Jones – who was under Roy McFarland.
“Number twos are key. It is good for managers to have relationships with players, but they probably cannot have the same relationship as an assistant.
“I used to always say: ‘If you have got any problems, see Kenny’ and if you have any good things to say, come and see me!”
“It is not as though Hecky (Paul Heckingbottom) is a novice to it. I went in at Blackpool with Neil Critchley, who I had never seen or spoken to in my life before going there and meeting him.
“He wanted a little bit of experience as he had come from the (Liverpool) academy and got promoted. Whereas Hecky has been there at Barnsley, Leeds and Hibs.
“It was nice that he wanted me to come and drive what he wanted. I think he knows what he will get from me, which is total commitment and positivity.”
McCall may exude natural enthusiasm, but being a good number two is not necessarily all about being the ‘good cop.’
He continued: “In training sessions, you go from good cop to bad cop and then just a nice guy.
“You ‘smell’ it as well, if there’s any complacency or anything. But you usually come in pre-season and set your standards and say this is what is acceptable and this is what we are after.
“But we came in almost half-way through a season and the lads have got to know and accept what we are after and for us to be clear and have a picture and vision.
“Then, if some cannot do it or don’t want to do it, then we will get people who do.
“We want everyone to be in it and involved in it and enjoying it with the tempo up and everyone at it.”