New Dundee United assistant Stevie Crawford feels reinvigorated and ready for the demands of full-time football 16 months after quitting as Dunfermline boss to reflect and recharge.
The 48-year-old resigned from the Pars at the end of the 2020/21 campaign to take a break from the game.
But he was lured back into the part-time ranks as a coach at Edinburgh City just two months later and then became manager of League Two East Fife last November.
Former Scotland player Crawford jumped at the chance to return to the full-time circuit when Liam Fox, a colleague from their time as coaches at Hearts, asked him to become his assistant at Tannadice last week.
“When I made the decision to come away from Dunfermline, it was nothing more than I just felt I had nothing left in the tank,” he said.
“I felt it was right to step away from the game at that time. I came away from the game because, with the pressures that are now involved in it, it was just really to recharge and analyse some of the stuff I’d done over the years to try and get better.
“I came away for a couple of months and it felt like two years. Then Gary Naysmith got in touch and said he needed a hand at Edinburgh City and that motivation to get back in the game just got hold of me.
“Thankfully I’ve found myself in a position now where I’m back in full-time football at a good club. I’m excited.
“I’ve been asked a number of times where I see myself in a few years and if I see myself as a number two. I just know that I love football, absolutely love it with a passion.”
Crawford is enthused about assisting 38-year-old Fox, who was appointed as Jack Ross’ successor last week following three games in interim charge.
“Liam came in at under-18s level at Hearts (in 2015), but he was always around the first team even at that point,” said Crawford, recalling how they first forged a bond as coaches. “You could see how keen he was to progress as a coach.
“Then he got the opportunity to take the Cowdenbeath job (on a coach loan basis), but he was still coming in to work with Hearts as well, helping myself and Robbie Neilson with the first team and also the younger guys.
“I saw a guy there who wasn’t just all about Liam Fox. His enthusiasm won me over. I remember during his spell at Cowdenbeath, when he was a young man facing the different sides of management, we had discussions on several Sunday nights bouncing ideas off each other and the relationship just grew from there.
“There’s talk about Liam being a young manager, but he finished his playing career to go into coaching – that’s how serious he is about it. In terms of the experience he’s got, he’s worked at Hearts, been in here at Dundee United (as assistant) and also had the experience of the Cowdenbeath job as a very young man.
“I’m in here to support Liam. It’s about making sure Liam’s thinking straight because there are a lot of things that can come into a manager’s mind from outwith. I don’t need to protect him because I know what he’s like.
“He’s very much his own man, he knows what he wants. I just need to make sure I’m giving him the best possibility of winning games of football.”