PAUL PATON reckons Jackie McNamara is the stand-out candidate for the Dundee United job.
But the Partick Thistle star hopes his gaffer stays at Firhill to lead them to Irn-Bru First Division title glory this season.
McNamara is one of several names being considered by the Tannadice board to replace Peter Houston as manager, but SportTimes understands the SPL side have not yet made contact with the Jags hierarchy for permission to speak to the 39-year-old.
The former Scotland defender was in the dugout as his side beat Cowdenbeath 2-1 on Saturday and Paton revealed he has mixed feelings over the speculation surrounding his Firhill mentor.
He said: "It is pleasing and not pleasing at the same time. It is great for the manager to get linked with a club like Dundee United because it means he is doing so well here.
"I would be delighted for him if he left but also disappointed for us because he has been great for us.
"The boys have been fantastic for him but, at the end of the day, it was him that brought a lot of them in and built this squad.
"The gaffer has to take his share of the credit, if things weren't going well he would be getting a lot of stick.
"I am delighted for him to get the recognition. He has totally turned my career and life around. I have so much to thank him for, so I am happy for him to be linked with other jobs – but hopefully he stays here.
"It is no surprise that Dundee United, one of the biggest clubs in the country, are looking at the manager. It is a credit to him and the team. I wouldn't want to work under anyone else."
After ending their festive slump in form with a 4-1 win over Falkirk last weekend, Thistle made it two wins from two games at Firhill in 2013 as they fought back from a goal down to see off a battling Blue Brazil.
Goals from Steven Craig and Conrad Balatoni clinched the points and Paton was delighted with the fighting spirit shown by the Jags, who face the same opponents again when they head to Central Park on Saturday.
He said: "It wasn't our best performance of the season but we managed to grind out the three points and that was the main thing for us.
"If you had offered us that at the start of the game we would have taken it.
"We showed a bit of character to see it out and get the win, though.
"We showed great spirit to come back from losing the first goal early on.
"In years gone by, our heads might have gone down in that situation and we might have lost the game but this year we have got a lot of belief and we came back and won. That is a big positive for us.
"As individuals and as a team we are always confident that we are going to win.
"We have a lot of belief as a squad and that comes with winning games and being in the hunt for the title.
"Cowdenbeath this week is not an easy place to go, but if you want to win league titles then you have to go away from home and pick up wins."