New Kilmarnock boss Angelo Alessio says he is ready for the challenge of building on Steve Clarke’s Rugby Park legacy.
Killie are preparing for their first European adventure in 18 years after Clarke guided the Ayrshire outfit to their first third-place finish since 1966.
But Alessio – who was Antonio Conte’s number two at Chelsea, Juventus and Italy – is not daunted by the prospect of replacing the new Scotland manager.
Speaking as he was unveiled alongside club chairman Billy Bowie after signing a three-year deal, the Italian said: “I’m very happy to be here. At this moment I’m ready for this job. I wanted this job because I believe I can start a new career as manager in the right way.
“Kilmarnock last season had a great season. But I need the players and the squad to continue to work hard to stay on top of the league.
“I think Steve Clarke did a great job and got great results here. For me, this is a big challenge – but I’m ready to continue this way.
“The challenge will be very hard because for the first time in a long time Kilmarnock finish third.
“But I always live under pressure because every year Antonio and I start out looking to win. Not to finish second, to win.
“I will push the players to develop and perform very well so we can stay at the top.”
The 54-year-old – who has added former Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati to his back-room team having inherited Clarke’s former assistant Alex Dyer – had a five-year stint with Juve as a player.
He moved into management working in the Italian lower leagues before hooking up with Conte at Seina in 2010.
The pair then returned to Turin and guided Juventus to three Serie A titles from 2012 to 2014.
Their eight-year partnership came to an end following Conte’s departure from Chelsea last year but Alessio remains in touch with his former colleague.
And he hopes their close bond could see him tap into some of Italy’s best young talent now that Conte has taken over at Inter Milan.
“I spoke with Antonio,” he said. “We were together for eight years, a long time, and won a lot of trophies and titles.
“But he understands my dream and my desire to start a new career. I think he’s happy for me and wished me good luck.
“It’s possible we can take some good young players (from Inter) and bring them here.
“I’m happy that the players we have stay here but of course I think there will be a few changes.
“My idea for football is to play attractive football.
“Last season the players gave their best performance but in my experience, if you want to continue to win you have to work hard every day to try to find improvements.”
Bowie revealed he was bowled over by Alessio’s interview presentation and promised there would be cash to spend.
He said: “Angelo was one of the final candidates to come along through the interview process but the research he had actually done on Kilmarnock and what he knew showed he had taken the time to find out what the club was all about and what our core values were.
“He came across very well and did well to get the job.
“I’ve always said from the beginning that as things grow within the club, everything else grows with it. So with the success we had last year things are growing. That means there will be an improved budget from last season.”