Scott Brown: Former Celtic captain says first management role at Fleetwood Town 'couldn't have been any better'
Scott Brown, the former Celtic captain, says he "couldn't have got a better opportunity" in management after taking his first role as the new Fleetwood Town boss.
The League One club interviewed a number of potential appointments but Brown was "the outstanding candidate", according to chairman Andy Pilley, who described him as "a born leader, a serial winner, and incredibly serious about becoming a successful manager".
The role is Brown's first in management after he left Aberdeen in March just nine months into a two-year contract where he was player-coach under former boss Stephen Glass, but departed when Jim Goodwin came in "to focus on his coaching development".
Brown, who turns 37 next month, announced his retirement last week, ending a 19-year career in which he made a total of 787 appearances for Hibernian, Celtic and Aberdeen, and also earned 55 Scotland caps. He would retire before the season had ended to take his first steps in management.
"I knew a couple of months back once I left Aberdeen, I didn't want to start with a new manager at 37-years-old," he told Sky Sports.
"It becomes harder to keep up with the younger ones. I think you know when it's the right time, I didn't want to keep dropping down the leagues and everyone watching that old guy in the middle of the park. It's the right time and I couldn't have got a better opportunity.
"To start at a club like Fleetwood is incredible. The chairman has plans and the training facilities are exceptional, higher-level Championship. Hopefully that can pull some quality players to the club as well."
Brown will be assisted by Steve Whittaker, who arrives at Fleetwood following a spell as first team coach at Scottish Championship side Dunfermline after a playing career spanning almost 500 senior games.
Whittaker started his playing days alongside Brown at Hibernian before playing 150 times for Rangers. He then moved south spending five years with Norwich.
Stephen Crainey, the former Celtic left-back, has returned to his role with Fleetwood's U23s following a spell as first team head coach after Simon Grayson was sacked in November. Brown will tap-in to the 40-year-old's experience.
"I'm a young manager, I'll make mistakes, but hopefully my knowledge of the game will help out with that," said Brown.
"I've got an assistant who is quite young as well. The two of us are learning, we're going to lean a bit on Stephen Crainey, who has been here for a long time and done fantastic for the club. He knows the league very well and the lads too.
"There's a lot of studying to do for us. We've got great recruitment staff here that have sent us a lot of players. My job for myself and my assistant is to sit down and find out what positions we need. There's a lot of players out of contract and we're quite weak down the left side with players leaving."
Crainey took 26 points from his 29 games in charge to keep Fleetwood in the division on goal difference. Brown, who won 10 Scottish Premiership titles with Celtic, knows there's plenty of work to be done to avoid another relegation battle. He is already planning an intense pre-season programme.
"There were a lot of injuries last season and it's about making sure that doesn't happen this season," he added. "Fitness levels are going to be key, they have to be robust throughout the whole season because it's a long league. It's going to be extremely hard for them but hopefully that benefits them in the long term.
"There's a few players out of contract, there's a few loan players going back as well. They'll be players coming and going, it's part and parcel of any football club but obviously I want to put my own stamp on things, play how I want to play. Pre-season is going to be huge for us. We'll go away for a week as well and the lads will get some sun, not the wind here!
"It all starts now. It's going to be extremely busy, we need to sort friendlies out, we need to bring players in, we need to make sure I speak with the backroom staff because that's important. I've got lots of meetings today and we can hopefully start ticking boxes and making sure everything is organised for the lads coming back in."
Brown's glittering career started with Hibernian, but is best remembered for his 14-year stint at Celtic and impressive Scotland career.
After League Cup success at Easter Road, the midfielder joined Celtic from Hibs in 2007 for £4.4m - a record transfer fee between two Scottish clubs.
He became a club legend, lifting 10 top-flight titles at Celtic as well as six Scottish Cups and another six League Cups during 14 years at the club.
Brown captained the Parkhead side to an invincible season in Brendan Rodgers' first year as manager, as well as four successive trebles.
Often revelling in his role as a pantomime villain, Brown featured in 44 games against Old Firm rivals Rangers and had a 51 per cent win rate in the fixture.
Brown made his 600th appearance for Celtic on 6 December 2020, however, just three months later it was confirmed he would leave at the end of the season to join Aberdeen.
He didn't get the fairy tale ending he'd hoped for at Celtic though with a trophy-less season and his final home game played inside an empty stadium. However, that didn't stop the three same words being used after the match: captain, leader, legend.
Despite never leading the national side to a major finals, Brown had a memorable 13-year spell playing for Scotland - a journey that started in 2005 when he made his debut against the USA.
He won 50 caps before announcing his decision to quit international football in 2016 to focus on his club career.
That move was short-lived and he returned to the squad under his former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan months later in a bid to help lead the side to reach the 2018 World Cup.
The midfielder, who also captained the national side 21 times, then took the decision to make himself unavailable for selection after talks with then manager Alex McLeish.
When Brown agreed a move to Aberdeen before the end of last season, he saw the opportunity as a first real step on the pathway to becoming a manager in his own right one day.
After being made captain of the team, he still featured regularly under former manager Glass - something the 36-year-old was keen on.
However, after Glass' sacking Jim Goodwin arrived from St Mirren. In a strange twist of fate - Brown was considered by the Paisley club to replace Goodwin but instead, Stephen Robinson took over and Brown has been on the sidelines since due to injury.