LIFE on the managerial merry-go-round is a fulfilling yet testing experience, a concoction of emotions that those addicted to it seemingly cannot wean themselves off. For Stuart McCall, life on the road just didn’t come close.

Out of work and out of the game, McCall would spend his time travelling to matches with long-time assistant Kenny Black as they kept their hand in at arm’s length. There was nothing at stake, no points and no pressure.

Sacked by Bradford City in February this year, McCall had become one of the scores of managers that were waiting for an opportunity to arise and for the phone to ring. One day, it did.

“After not getting back in in the summer, you expect to get to September time and then opportunities come up,” McCall, the new boss at League One Scunthorpe United, told SportTimes.

“But there are a lot of managers out of work down here, and up in Scotland. Not only does a job have to come up, you have to go and prove you are the one the club can trust.

“It came out of the blue in the fact that it was only four games into the season. Nick Daws left on the Friday and the chairman, who I had never spoken to before, spoke to me on the Friday night and almost offered me the job on the Sunday. It was good that he made his mind up that he wanted me and Kenny to come in.”

With that, McCall had returned to where he always wanted to be – on the training pitch and in the dugout – and has been tasked with transforming the Irons’ fortunes. He was also back in a changing room and on the road.

Three draws against Accrington, Wolves and Rochdale followed but the journey to Wimbledon on Saturday proved worth it as a 3-2 victory lifted United up to 15th in League One standings.

“For the first couple of weeks, myself and Kenny were getting out to games but we weren’t going with any purpose,” McCall said of his time away from management.

“It is the little things. I would maybe be driving up to Scotland on a Friday afternoon and see the Carlisle United team bus passing me the other way. I would think ‘it would be great to have an overnight going to a game, to be on a coach, be part of a team again’.

“As a manager, there is always pressure, but it is a great challenge and it is a challenge to improve players and be successful. I had no hesitation in getting back in.”

McCall has returned to a profession where the risks are as high as the rewards, where the criticism can often overshadow the praise. Management still has a lure, though, and the Rangers legend still has unfinished business.

From his near miss as a youngster with England to those at Ibrox and Wembley as a boss, McCall’s life has been permeated by ‘what if?’ moments. He always looks forward rather than back, however.

“I was fortunate to have a great career, not through me being great, but through the work that I did,” McCall said. “I played with such great clubs and represented my country so I won’t look back with regrets on anything.

“In every walk of life, you need a bit of luck for things to go your way. As a player, it was things falling right at times. Not getting on for England when I went to Turkey as an Under-21 player, I wouldn’t have the outstanding memories of playing at World Cups and European Championships for Scotland.

“I played for Bradford twice and managed them twice and to play for Rangers was unbelievable, as was the chance to manage the club. I played for Scotland and assisted with Gordon (Strachan), so I have been very fortunate and I only look back in a good way.

“Yeah, there is that little bit sometimes where you think… But realistically you say ‘I have been lucky with what I have done’. Things could have gone differently at certain times but I don’t have any regrets. I have been fortunate, I have loved it and I am loving being back in now.”

The exit from Bradford, a club where he had started both his playing and managerial careers, could have knocked McCall’s confidence.

If there was ever proof of how quickly things can change for a boss, this was it as he was shown the door just months after leading his side out at Wembley. Like at Rangers, the final play-off hurdle had proven too great to overcome.

The Bantams would ultimately finish in mid-table last term and they currently sit in the relegation zone after eight matches this season, with David Hopkin their fourth boss this year.

McCall has moved on. At 54, he remains as enthusiastic and passionate as ever as he and Black, his right-hand man at Motherwell and Rangers previously, embark on their latest endeavour together.

“We went into Bradford and had real highs and success and over-achievement and great memories,” McCall said.

“Even though they are a big club with the size of the support, I think budget wise we were 12th in the table and we ended up finishing fifth and getting the club to Wembley.

“If VAR had been about, Millwall’s goal wouldn’t have been allowed and you never know what would have happened. Little things can sway you and determine what way your career is going to go.

“I didn’t come away from Bradford with a bad taste or bitterness or anything like that. I just felt ‘I really enjoyed that’.

“It wasn’t a case of ‘do I want to go back into it?’. It was ‘let’s get back in and improve a club and be successful’.”

The game is littered with managers that have made the wrong moves at the wrong moment and paid the price. Similarly, those that have tried to wait for the dream job can quickly be forgotten about.

For all of the managers and coaches on the outside looking in, that is the dilemma they deal with on a daily and weekly basis. Timing is everything, and in McCall’s case it was right.

“We had a couple of opportunities to get in over the summer but they weren’t what I felt were going to be the right ones,” he said. “It is a balancing act because you don’t want to be out of the game too long, especially when you love the day to day involvement with the players on the training park and the challenge of going to try and get wins and be successful on a Saturday.

“If you are out too long, then is when you have the case of taking a job because you want to get back into football rather than trying to wait. If you are choosy, you know there will be a lot of good candidates.

“The other toss of the coin is what the owners want. Sometimes you will tick the boxes, sometimes you won’t. It depends what they are looking for.”

Having earned that trust, McCall is now determined to repay it as he looks to continue to improve the Iron and have them challenging for promotion to the Championship once again.

There was something about the chance to work at Glanford Park that immediately appealed to McCall. Now he has his chance, he must make the most of it.

“I have still got my house in Strathaven and I have got a place in Harrogate, where I am living at the minute,” he said.

“It got to a stage where I was looking at the possibilities in Scotland again and there might have been things, but Scunthorpe appealed to me straight away.

“They have been a solid League One side, in the play-offs a couple of times. They have lost players from last year and gone down a younger route with some players so it is a good challenge.

“The owners are good people, and football people, and it is a good club to work for, so that ticked a box straight away. I am finding that there are good people here and hopefully we can do well together.”