Who's Billy?

  • by Staff Writer
  • Monday, 5th July 2021

David Moyes proudly posed with his new look backroom team for the forthcoming 2021/22 season on Friday.

And the one new addition to the team, which includes Stuart Pearce, Kevin Nolan, Paul Nevin and Xavi Valero is former Scottish international midfielder Billy McKinlay, who replaces Alan Irvine - who is moving to an advisory position within the club - at Rush Green.



Moyes and his team - including new arrival McKinlay - pose at Rush Green [pic:whufc.com]


Born in Glasgow in 1969, McKinlay began his career with Dundee United for whom he made 222 appearances between 1986 and 1995 before securing a move to the English Premiership with Blackburn Wanderers, for a sizeable fee of £1.75million.

Seen as a major move at the time, McKinlay joined Rovers a matter of months after they had won the league title, narrowly pipping Manchester United to the post (with Billy Bonds' West Ham having memorably had a say in that).

He was to spend five years at Ewood Park, making just under 100 appearances before featuring for a handful of clubs in his thirties - Braford City, Preston, back in Scotland with Clydebank before enjoying short spellss at Leicester and Fulham, following which he hung up his boots at the age of 36.

Although he made less than 400 first team appearances during his professional career, McKinlay managed to feature on 29 occasions for the Scottish national team, having made his full debut in 1993. He scored four goals for the Scots and appeared (briefly) at both Euro 96 and 1998 World Cup Finals.

His first foray into coaching came at Fulham, the club where he ended his playing career, in 2007. Working under Lawrie Sanchez and his replacement Roy Hodgson (plus his replacement Martin Jol), McKinley coached Fulham's reserve side while being charged with overseeing the development of the club's Academy players.


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Having cut his coaching teeth at Craven Cottage, McKinlay was appointed by Watford at first team coach in 2013. He was soon placed in temporary charge of the first team after manager Oscar Garcia resigned and managed a win and a draw before Slavisa Jokanovic was hired as the new Hornets boss.

His relationship with Moyes began in 2014, when the two teamed up with Real Sociedad in Spain. However that venture was to last a few days shy of a year after Moyes - along with his back room team - were fired following a poor start to the 2015/16 campaign.

While Moyes returned to England in order to take charge of Sunderland, McKinlay signed his first managerial contract with Norwegian club Stabaek Fotball. However just nine months into a two-year contract he resigned after the Tippeligaen side were dumped out of the Europa League by Welsh minnows Connah's Quay Nomads.

Moyes invited McKinlay to join his at the Stadium of Light as a scout shortly after and the duo were reunited. He remained in Sunderland after Moyes' resignation at the end of the 2016/17 season which saw the Black Cats relegated from the Premier League and went on to perform both coaching and managerial roles at the club.

Yet he was to follow Moyes for a third time when his fellow Scot was appointed West Ham manager in 2017. McKinlay, who was hired as a first team coach left the club along with Moyes when the manager's contract wasn't renewed at the end of the 2017/18 season - despite the manager and his team having successfully steered the Hammers away from the threat of relegation.


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After a brief spell out of the game, McKinlay was hired as assistant manager to Michael O'Neill at Stoke in November 2019 - where he remained until April 2021. The pair helped Stoke avoid relegation in a pandemic-affected first season but, much to the surprise of Stoke fans, he left City by mutual consent.

Commenting on the departure of McKinlay in April, O'Neill - who also teamed up with the Scot with Northern Ireland - spoke effusively about his impact during his spell with Stoke, although indicated that perhaps all had not been well between them.

"Billy was someone I knew and had worked with before and had a good relationship with," said O'Neill following McKinlay's exit. "I knew he would be good for where we were at that point; a club at the bottom of the league. He was someone who had worked at a good level in the game. Primarily this was Billy’s first experience working in the Championship.

"I think that over time, I felt we needed possibly a different approach. Billy has also had a long commute from the south. It wasn’t to do with results. Billy is a great coach, he’ll do really well and he might get the chance of a manager’s job somewhere.

"But where we were at this minute in time, I just think we needed something different.”

Now the no-nonsense, tough-talking McKinlay has returned to West Ham, with his arrival being confirmed last week, where he will be enjoying a fourth spell working alongside Moyes following their previous roles together at Real Sociedad, Sunderland and West Ham.

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