Opinion: Why Angelo Alessio's time at Kilmarnock is not up yet 
Alessio gives instructions to his players. Source:GettyImages.

When Angelo Alessio arrived in Ayrshire to take charge of Kilmarnock in June, fans of the Rugby Park side were full of optimism. 

A single glance at the Italian's Wikipedia page had Killie fans dreaming and fans of other Premiership sides green with envy.

Alessio's experience at the very top level as the assistant to Antonio Conte at Juventus, Chelsea and the Italian National Team was deemed a bold, but very well welcomed, addition to Scottish football.

Fast forward a month and there are now fans demanding that the Killie boss is sacked and there has even been an embarrassingly small-minded article, filled with cheap stereotypes, written for a national newspaper suggesting his time in Ayrshire is up.

So what has gone wrong for Alessio in such a short period in Scotland and how can he remedy the situation?

Europa League humiliation

Alessio's first challenge as Kilmarnock boss was to come out victorious in his side's first Europa League tie in 18 years but in all honesty, to refer to it as his first 'challenge' is pushing it considering Killie's opposition were Welsh minnows Connah's Quay Nomads - a side that pretty much everyone gave no chance.

However, it most definitely turned into a challenge for the Ayrshire side and it was one that they failed miserably. 

A penalty and a last-minute winner secured a 2-1 away victory for Killie in Wales, which was deemed acceptable by the fans and the media alike. After all, it was Alessio's first match in charge and the side secured a victory with two important away goals. 

Unbelievably though, those goals did not matter in the end as the Nomads cruised to a 2-0 victory at Rugby Park which meant Killie's European dream was over before it even began. 

Boo's rung out from the stands at full time and even the most supportive of supporters would be hard pushed to argue that it was not deserved. 

Killie were horrendously flat and uncharacteristically slack at the back against a team made up of a mixture of full-time and part-time players.

As a result, there is now intense pressure on Alessio. The feel-good factor that Steve Clarke and his side built at Rugby Park looks to have disappeared with one disastrous result. 

Frustration at the result of this match has led to criticisms appearing from all over regarding other aspects of Alessio's management of the Ayrshire side. 

Lack of signings 

One of these major criticisms is the lack of incoming transfer activity at Rugby Park. 

Alessio has recruited three players so far. Goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu joined on a one-year loan deal from Juventus, Mohamed El Makrini signed on an initial one-year deal from Roda JC and Alex Bruce joined on a one-year deal, although the 34-year-old was already with Killie in the 2018-19 season. 

These transfers may prove to be welcome additions to the squad. However, Killie have lost several players from their highly successful 2018-19 campaign including Jordan Jones, Aaron Tshibola, Youssouf Mulumbu, Scott Boyd, Conor McAleny, Kris Boyd, Liam Millar, and Daniel Bachmann and they have yet to replace them.

Eamonn Brophy was the only recognised first-team striker heading into their first European tie in over eighteen years, supported only by 18-year-old Innes Cameron who's only first-team experience came last season on loan at League 1 side Stranraer

Whilst it could be argued that the players available should have had enough quality to beat the Nomads anyway, the whole thing just had an overwhelmingly amateurish whiff about it. 

To go into such an important game with such a threadbare squad was questionable at best and it is now just 10 days until Alessio's men take on Rangers in their opening game of the season and the Ayrshire side's squad still just appears so woefully thin.

Fans are hardly crying out for a Lee Clark-esque signing parade involving a conveyor belt of new players. All they are rightfully asking for are a few players to come in and help try and fill the gaping holes left by the summer departures. 

Tinkering with a winning formula 

Another common criticism that has been aimed at Alessio is the fact that he, along with new coach Massimo Donati, has tried to install a slightly different style of football in Ayrshire.

They vowed to play more expansive, attacking football and have tried to slightly deviate away from the structured, counter-attacking based game plan that brought Killie so much success under Clarke. 

Now, it is very, very clear that the new ideas did not pay off in the European games. It was evident that there was a different style being employed but it did not look good and ultimately, it failed.

However, it is wholly unfair to level criticism at a new manager for daring to try and change things at his club which is exactly what has been done.

By all means, criticise the execution of the plan, but don't insist that by daring to change things to try and make his mark on his team that Alessio is in the wrong. 

In an article written by Gordon Parks for The Daily Record titled: 'Why Angelo Alessio's time at Kilmarnock is already up', Parks stated: "He (Alessio) wanted new faces, exotic names from foreign shores when change wasn’t required.

All he had to do was stick with the basics and follow the dotted lines of management that had served Clarke so well." 

Parks then goes onto say, literally one sentence later: "But it was being asked to work with his ready-made assistant Alex Dyer that provided another questionable managerial ingredient.

It effectively paired two strangers in the dugout in fingers-crossed hope their chemistry would work."

So, in an article in the national press, Alessio has been criticised for trying to make change 'when it wasn't required' but then the decision to work with Alex Dyer to provide continuity from the previous regime is also being criticised, so which is it?

Is he a fool for wanting to bring in exotic names from foreign shores or is he a fool for sticking with Dyer who was a key part of that dotted line of management that served Steve Clarke so well?

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't springs to mind.

It is simplistic at best to say that all the new Killie boss had to do was 'stick to doing what Clarke did'. If it was that easy then anyone with the most basic coaching experience could step in, follow the steps and get success. 

The reality is, Alessio is a coach who is working as his own man for the first time in a foreign country. He was brought in to the club at a time when spirits and expectations were high but to expect him to follow in the same path as Clarke is unrealistic. 

This is Alessio's first experience in the Scottish game and it is likely that for most of the players in the Killie squad it will be their first time working under a foreign manager who may have different footballing ideas to the ones they are used to.

It is a learning curve for all involved and one that will take time.

Poor English

Alessio has also been criticised for his less than perfect English.

This is a difficult one because it is understandable that people may have concerns about the new boss's ability to communicate with his players and coaching staff. 

Add in a shocking first result and people are automatically going to look for reasons as to why the performance was so poor and it is, therefore, fair to question whether or not Alessio is struggling to get his message across due to not having a full grasp of the language.

However, it would be unscrupulous to call for the Italian's head and cite his poor English as a driving factor for it. 

As has been said, it is a learning curve. If you employ a foreign manager that has zero experience in Scotland, then there's a pretty good chance that he will struggle to understand everything that is being said at first.

His English will improve though, there is no doubt about that and he has taken a pretty logical step by bringing in Donati, an Italian with a firm grasp of the language and culture due to his time spent with Celtic, Hamilton and St Mirren.

Mauricio Pochettino struggled with English when he first arrived in England but he avoided major criticism due to the fact he enjoyed success on the park.

If Alessio can deliver success on the park then the criticism of his English will go away but lets at least give him a run of games to try and actually deliver that success rather than castigating him for not spitting out sentences drenched in Ayrshire colloquialisms. 

Too much, too soon

It is easy to act based on emotion and call for the new Killie boss to be sacked, which is what several fans have done following the disappointing result in Europe.

However, it is incredibly important that people take a step back and evaluate the entire situation now that time has passed. 

That does not mean that Alessio should be absolved of any criticism and it does not mean that the result doesn't matter and that fans should just bury it away and pretend it never happened. 

It was a horrific result but it is a result that is as much the fault of the players as it is the new manager.

Captain Gary Dicker spoke of how he and his Killie team-mates have to take their share of responsibility for the horror result. He told Kilmarnock TV: "We have to take the blame for it. We got the plaudits last year, record breakers, but we are breaking the wrong records this year.

"We're getting used to playing a different way but we have still got to manage the game as players."

Fans need to come together

Although it may be hard to move on from such heartbreak, it is what Killie fans have to do now. It is far too easy to look back and say the result would not have happened under Clarke.

It is even easier to look further back, to a time before Clarke, and to compare the disappointing performances from that time and allowing doubt and worry to creep in about the future under Alessio.

The reality is that the Killie board are standing by their man and are prepared to give him time to try and fix the situation and continue the positive work that Clarke started before he departed to become Scotland National Team boss.

During his time at Killie, Clarke coined the catchphrase: "Together, we are stronger" and that phrase is ringing true right now.

The club and fans have enjoyed a bump-free ride for the past two years, but now they must prove to themselves and to everyone else that they really are united as one. 

No one can argue with the fact it hasn't been a great start, mistakes have clearly been made by Alessio in recruitment (or lack of) and tactically. 

But, mistakes happen in football. Some of the greatest managers in world football have faced tricky challenges at the start but what made them great was the fact they overcame adversity.

Alessio should be at least supported and given the chance to prove that, despite what writers of cliche-filled articles and angry fans may have you believe, his time at Kilmarnock is rightfully not over yet. 

MEDIA: 5VOTES: 1
VAVEL Logo