Barry Wilson and Paul Sheerin shared a dressing room together and have both stepped up for their clubs in a time of need.
When John Robertson took compassionate leave from his role as Caley Thistle manager last month, Wilson stepped into the breech until an interim manager was found.
Sheerin now finds himself in a similar position, leading Aberdeen until the end of the season after Derek McInnes left his role as manager on Monday.
Wilson and Sheerin played together at Inverness and both had managerial stints in the SPFL, with Elgin City and Arbroath respectively. Both have since taken up coaching roles, with Sheerin leading the Dons reserve side and Wilson returning to Caley Thistle in 2018 as first-team coach.
When he took charge for the game against Alloa Athletic in February, the biggest challenge Wilson found was finding his voice.
“Two voices is probably enough, so you’re not used to speaking in front of the group in a tactical sense,” he said. “As a coach it’s more soft-coaching, individual stuff, if they need a gee up or they don’t quite understand what the manager is after. That’s my role.
“Robbo would come in, then Kell (Scott Kellacher) would come in – players’ attention spans are short so they don’t listen to three different voices.
“The biggest change is probably standing in front of them and showing you can deliver a teamtalk. At this stage of the season, players know their roles within the group and know the formation. I don’t imagine they’ll try reinvent the wheel.
“When I took the Alloa game a couple of weeks ago and we throw away a late equaliser, in a game we should be winning, you start talking about a bit louder and shouting. That maybe comes as a shock to the players because they don’t see it that often.
“If you’ve got a good group of professionals around you and use their experience, they can help you as well.”
Sheerin will be assisted by Barry Robson – another ex-Caley Jag – and Neil Simpson, Aberdeen’s head of youth development. They will have the six games remaining in the Premiership, plus the Scottish Cup before the end of the season.
All three worked with McInnes during his eight-year tenure at Pittodrie and are unlikely to make radical changes to the team.
“For me, it was watching the way the gaffer did certain things, “said Wilson. “You know you’re only in there short-term so you try and continue it. You don’t say ‘right, this is the way I’m going to do it’.
“At this stage of the season, it’s about giving the players information and the confidence to go and perform. Paul is a good speaker and I’m sure he’s well-respected within the club.
“It probably is a free hit. They’re fourth in the table and have only scored one goal in nine games, so there obviously is some issues from the creative side of things
“It’s something that they’ll need to address to finish the season strongly. The interesting thing will be is if they do well, what happens?”
Wilson and Sheerin played together at Caley Thistle under Steve Paterson and Duncan Shearer, who both left for the Dons in 2002.
At that point in their careers, there was little notice paid to going into coaching at the end of their careers.
“I don’t think when you’re playing you think about that too much, unless you’re coming to the end of your career,” said Wilson. “When the two of us played together we weren’t; he was a very clever footballer and you generally get that (move into coaching) from them.
“Certainly when I was here as a player, I didn’t think Barry (Robson) would be a coach. He was an absolute madman. But the penny drops as you get older and it’s great to see him doing well.”
Aberdeen Football Club and Manager, Derek McInnes, have agreed to part company after eight years.
The manager and his assistant, Tony Docherty, will leave the Club with immediate effect.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) March 8, 2021
At the crux of the story though, football’s cruel, predictable mannerisms have dealt McInnes a cruel blow.
“I never like it for anyone to lose their job,” added Wilson. “Derek had been at Aberdeen a long time and it probably was a bit of a shock.
“It’s the same when anyone loses their job; some players might be quite happy – that’s how sad it is – and some will be absolutely gutted.
“It’s six games where they’re in a good position. Top six is secured and Paul has been working with them for three or four years already, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.”