ALLY McCoist calls his three-and-a-half years managing Rangers ‘the dream job at a nightmare time’. No wonder this 55-year-old, a master of timing his run during his illustrious playing days, is determined that his next post will be the right job at the right time. Contrary to what you might expect, St Mirren might just be it.

If you think about it, the Paisley club tick a lot of boxes for him. They are certainly local, the nearest top-flight club to his home in Bridge of Weir. They possess their own new-built stadium, their own bespoke training complex, have an impressive young playing squad and an ambitious fan-run board, even if expectations in the first instance boil down to making sure you are still in the top division in 12 months time. Compare all that to the turmoil McCoist experienced in his last manager’s job and you begin to see precisely why the Paisley post could be so appealing.

“It’s been well documented what happened at Rangers,” said McCoist, speaking at a charity celebrity football match at Airdrie’s Penny Cars Stadium with proceeds going to St Andrews Hospice. The dream job at the nightmare time is how I would describe it. That said, I probably gained more experience in those three years than many managers would get in a lifetime.

“I would be very hopeful that the next job, if I’m lucky enough to get one, would be if not 100 per cent football then 95 per cent. That would be something that would appeal to me a lot more. It [St Mirren] is very handy for me, a good club and a good group of people running it now which has to be said.”

McCoist is not the only big-name former Old Firm player under consideration for a post at one of Scotland’s newest top flight clubs. It is a strange quirk that the summer of 2018 finds both the nation’s promoted clubs hunting for a new manager, while the two relegated ones (Alan Archibald at Partick Thistle and Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson at Ross County) have an incumbent.

In some ways victim of the successes of both Jack Ross and David Hopkin, both Livingston and St Mirren find themselves at something of a crossroads right now. While there are other lower-key, perhaps lower risk, candidates available – St Mirren are thought to be considering Robbie Neilson, Jim McIntyre and Coleraine manager Oran Kearney – one school of thought right now seems to be that robbing the BT Sport studio for a high-profile big-name manager is the best way to tackle the top-flight head on.

Livingston already have former Celtic striker John Hartson as a strikers’ coach, he lives locally and he certainly knows what it takes to thrive in top level football. From a marketing point of view, throwing McCoist and Hartson into the mix along with Steven Gerrard, Brendan Rodgers, Neil Lennon, Derek McInnes, Craig Levein, Steven Gerrard, Neil McCann and others would add a huge sprinkling of spice to an already tasty Premiership product. While Hartson never had any intention of becoming Livingston’s manager when he first volunteered to help out one day a week, the chances of the Welshman taking over increased yesterday when Livingston director John Ward insisted the new manager would have to work with the entire existing backroom team.

“If John wanted the job [we would consider him], although I think he’s still got contracts with BT Sport and people like that so I don’t know,” said Ward. “We’re open minded, we’ll probably look for someone who is experienced, someone with a bit of experience and weigh up the pros and cons and discuss it. We also recognise that we’ll have a lot more media attention this year and there will be days when it’s not going so well and days when it is. On the other side of things, we’re not in a position where we can throw a huge salary at somebody. There are a lot of people on holiday just now and a lot of the guys some of the people at the club are thinking about are on holiday so we’re not going to have this done in a couple of days, it’s going to be a week to two weeks before we’re in any position to announce to it.”

One man who is happy to take himself out of the firing line for either job is Owen Coyle, the former Wigan and Bolton manager admitting yesterday hat his next role is likely to be south of the border. Another speaking at yesterday’s charity match for St Andrews Hospice, Coyle said he took his share of the blame for Ross County’s relegation but didn’t have any regrets about taking the role in the first place. He feels Kettlewell and Ferguson will be able to return the Highland club to the top flight at the first time of asking.

“I don’t regret taking the job,” said Coyle. “Roy McGregor [the owner] is a great guy and that is who I feel for, and for the fans of Ross County. It is a community club and Roy backs the club to the hilt. He backs his managers, and I am sure he will do that with Stuart and Fergie. I am sure they will return the club to the top division at the first attempt. It is a great club with really good people. The disappointing thing, and this is something we all feel a part of, is the fact they have lost their place.”

“In football it only takes a phone call, things can change in a minute, but we are obviously down the road now and that is where it will be for the moment. But I do think there are a lot of good candidates for those two jobs available. You look at how well David Hopkin did at Livi, fantastic. Two back to back promotions on that budget, incredible, I can understand why there are a lot of clubs down south interested in his services. And if you do as well as Jack did then Sunderland is a great opportunity for him.”