Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs: I'm sure we've got the right man in Mark McGhee
CHAIRMAN Nick Higgs believes he has done his homework to ensure Bristol Rovers have finally got the right man.
But the Pirates' chief admitted mistakes had been made in the past at a club which has now had four managers and three caretakers in just over 13 months.
Talking about the two-week process that led to Mark McGhee's appointment following the dismissal of Paul Buckle, Higgs insisted he had carried out a lot of behind-the-scenes research before opting for the 54-year-old Glaswegian.
"We had a huge number of applicants of a very high calibre. We drew up a list very quickly, but the shortlist took a few days to dwell on," said Higgs.
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"I made a lot of contact with ex-chairmen, managers and players the candidates had worked with to try to get as much information as I could. You always learn from previous experiences and I am never one that shies away from saying that I made a mistake or that things didn't work.
"The last time we went for youth and an up-and-coming manager. That didn't work.
"I think the time before, Dave Penney tried to change too many things too quickly. That didn't work.
"This time, I spent a lot of time talking to people about the names on our shortlist, trying to find out about their characters and looking at their track records.
"I am sure we have got the right man in Mark. In his interview, you could see he had a spark in his eye and he wants to win. Most of all, he is straight-talking and you know where you stand with him. That bodes for a good working relationship. He doesn't want to come for the short-term. He wants to come and rebuild the club and take it forward."
Higgs hopes McGhee can lead Rovers into a new era if the Pirates' plans for a 21,700-capacity all-seater stadium in Frenchay come to fruition.
"Mark sees ambition here – he sees the potential of the new stadium and thinks that we can do what Reading and Brighton have done," said Higgs.
"The short-term aim is to improve performances and stabilise ourselves in this division. We need to get a few wins under our belts, get away from 18th place in the division and then next season look at moving our way up the leagues. Hopefully next season we will be challenging for promotion.
"We don't want to be in League Two with a new stadium. We want to be at least in League One and, hopefully, challenging for a place in the Championship."
Higgs is confident McGhee can win the backing of the fans – something he acknowledged went badly awry towards the end of Buckle's seven-month stint in charge.
"One of the major problems we have had recently has been the relationship between the manager and supporters, and we can't shy away from that," he admitted.
"At the end of the day, it might be the chairman that sacks you, but nine times out of ten it is the supporters who get you the sack. They will put pressure on the manager and the team if they are not performing.
"Any chairman or manager knows that you have to take the fans along with you, and that is what we intend to do. Things haven't gone right for us this season, but we will do everything we can to remedy that.
"The club has to move forwards because we have gone backwards for too long."