Allan Russell backs Mixu Paatelainen to fix Kilmarnock
Russell is on his bike and heading to Carolina Railhawks
By Fraser Wilson
Carolina Railhawks-bound striker Allan Russell believes Mixu Paatelainen is the man to steer Kilmarnock clear of next season's relegation battle.
Russell's former team-mate was unveiled as Killie's new boss on Wednesday.
"I know Mixu well from St Mirren," said the 29-year-old whose contract had expired. "He's got a great presence about him and a great work ethic.
"I'm sure he'll do a great job. He'll control the dressing room and I'm sure he's the right man for the job."
As Gus MacPherson and St Mirren parted ways, the former Kilmarnock defender was immediately linked with the vacant manager's position.
A popular player with the Rugby Park faithful, he became the bookmakers' favourite for the post, but it is Paatelainen who has been given the job of revitalising the Scottish Premier League club.
It was difficult for him at Hibernian and I think he was hard done by
Former Killie striker Allan Russell
Calderwood, who arrived in January with assistant Jimmy Nicholl and coach Sandy Clark after Jim Jefferies' exit to Hearts, got off to a great start in his capacity as interim manager, enjoying an eight-game unbeaten streak.
However, there were rumours of dressing-room unrest and poor player/manager relations as results began to slide, but Russell insists this was not the case.
"There was a great team spirit under Jimmy," said the striker. "We were never aware of any problems and it was a really enjoyable time.
"The two Jimmys and Sandy had a hard job because we were already in the relegation zone, but they did what they set out to do, which was to keep us in the SPL."
Russell thought Calderwood might continue as manager, but an agreement could not be reached with Kilmarnock.
Calderwood had been unhappy at the proposed budget and club chairman Michael Johnston has admitted that Paatelainen will be working with a player kitty 25% less than last season.
"It looked like Gus was going to get the job, but Mixu has obviously had something different from the other candidates," said Russell.
"There's not a lot of money obviously, but he's got great contacts and I'm sure he'll bring in the right players if he thinks he needs to.
"It was difficult for him at Hibernian and I think he was hard done by. I'm surprised it has taken this long for him to get back into football."
Russell, meanwhile, is looking to kick-start his career in the USA with the Railhawks, who are in Major League Soccer's second tier.
"It's a great challenge for me personally, but it's a huge challenge for my family as well," said the striker, who failed to become a first-team regular during an injury-hit spell since joining Killie from Airdrie United in 2008.
"I officially sign on 14 July and I'll hit the ground running because it's mid-season over there."
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