IAN MURRAY admits he is excited to be looking forward to Championship football with Raith Rovers, just days after the bitter disappointment of missing out on the league with Airdrie.
The former Scotland, Rangers and Hibernian defender has been named the new Rovers manager on a two-year deal after opting for a fresh challenge after three and a half years with Airdrie.
The 41-year-old spent almost three seasons in the Championship with Dumbarton but lasted just six months in the division with St Mirren before resurrecting his managerial career with Airdrie in League One.
He admits he could have stayed in charge of the Diamonds had they not lost their play-off final in surprising fashion to Queen’s Park just 10 days ago.
But, after the bodyblow of that defeat, he is thrilled to still have the opportunity to work again in the second-tier after succeeding John McGlynn at Stark’s Park.
Murray, who is hopeful a deal can be reached for Scott Agnew to follow him from Airdrie as his assistant, said: “The chance to come back in the Championship was hugely appealing for me.
“Football’s a funny game. The disappointment I felt this time last week after losing a play-off final and then now to be looking forward to a Championship season, albeit at a new club, is exciting for myself.
“It’s been a long journey back. Sometimes the knocks make you stronger - you deal with things differently, you gain experience and you learn from mistakes.
“I’m really looking forward to trying out my methods at a new football club that is receptive to what I was suggesting to them as well.
“I genuinely feel it will help Raith Rovers in the short-term and also in the medium term."
Asked what would have happened had Airdrie won promotion, he added: “It’s the ifs, buts and maybes of life. We’ll never know. It wasn’t to be, for whatever reason.”
Raith’s on-field disappointment at finishing fifth and missing out on the Premiership play-offs came amidst an off-field storm following their signing of David Goodwillie in January.
Fans, including high-profile backer and author Val McDermid walked away in disgust at the transfer, which also cost the club lucrative sponsorship and attracted criticism from far and wide.
But Murray - who plans talks with his new squad, including out-of-contract players, in the coming days - is confident he can help heal the wounds with a successful team next term.
He added: “The past is the past as far as I’m concerned. Decisions were made and nobody makes decisions hoping they go wrong, certainly not.
“If we play the right football and get the right players in that can produce exciting performances, then the fans will come back. That happens at every level.
"I saw it at Airdrie last season and for us to have nearly 4,000 at a game was remarkable. Again, that was down to the football the players were playing; I just try to help them and I’m sure we can recreate that here.
“There’s a good nucleus here of a fan base and once the boys go over the white line the fans will support them.”