ALEX Dyer has worked under and alongside a few famous names and renowned managers during his lengthy football career. The Kilmarnock assistant has learned from Sam Allardyce, Steve Coppell, Avram Grant, Eddie Gray, Chris Powell and Gianfranco Zola as both a player and a coach. But he has no hesitation singling out Steve Clarke as the best of them.

“I’ve had a lot of managers that I’ve played under, coached under or worked beside, and the gaffer is the best by far,” he said of the man who is set to take charge of Scotland next week. “I wanted to go to another level and since I’ve been here, every day has been an education.

“I’ve learned a lot. You can have all the badges in the world, but when you’re outside and learning from someone who sets the standard high, badges can’t replicate that. I’ve been very lucky and blessed to be here.

“I have known him since I was at West Ham. I was ressie manager, he was assistant manager to Zola. I realised when I watched him coach that his coaching ability was second to none. All I wanted to do was learn.

“I went off, got my coaching badges and finished up getting my pro-licence. When he called me to come and assist him I jumped at the chance. It wasn’t a case of ‘I’ll think about it’. I said ‘yes’ straight away. He said: ‘You know it’s Scotland’. I said: ‘Yeah, it all good’. I came up and it’s been a good journey.”

Clarke has been effusive in his praise of Dyer, a former defender with, among others, Blackpool, Hull City, Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic, since being appointed Kilmarnock manager last season and has always been keen to talk up the important role he has played in their success. The Englishman believes he complements the Scot.

“His personality is different to mine," he said. "We get on. I think I’m good for him, he’s definitely good for me. We just talk football. But we speak about other things. We speak about life in general. We just want the best for Kilmarnock Football Club.

“He’s a little bit different from me isn’t he? No way is he like how he is in front of the media. It’s not serious all the time. It can’t be. We have a good laugh, we speak about all sorts like I said and we get on well. But obviously when he is in front of the media he is different.

“I think it would be wrong if we were both the same because that would transfer over to the players and then they wouldn’t enjoy it so much. It is important there is a balance. Everyone knows he is the gaffer and what he says goes.

"Sometimes the players will come to me and say: ‘Does he really mean this?’ I can smooth it out a little bit and do my job. But I enjoy what I do. He lets me be myself. He lets me do what I’m good at. Apart from hopefully coaching and being a good aide for him the other side of things is to take some pressure off him.”

Clarke played in the 1980s and 1990s and is a non-nonsense individual who has a definite touch of the old school manager about him. But Dyer knows he is in tune with the current generation of footballer and appreciates how to get the very best out of his players.

“He has come from that time, like we all have,” he said. “It was hard. People got away with murders that they wouldn’t get away with now. The gaffer is the gaffer. He has got the right balance to it.

“Obviously nowadays the younger coaches think differently. What he says goes. But he gives you scope. He understands a modern day footballer. It isn’t like when we were growing up and when we were playing. It is a lot different.

“The players want to do well for him. That’s a great thing for a manager to have, and it comes with success. When you get good results, they believe in what you say and buy into it.

“They’re good professionals, they see how hard we work and what Steve demands on the training pitch every day. He demands that they run, that they chase, that they fight and pass the ball. All the things that are going to make us a better team and better club. Everyone buys into that, and it’s easy then, once everyone knows what they’re doing.”

Dyer was unsurprised that Clarke spoke out when he was subjected to sectarian abuse from Rangers fans when Kilmarnock were beaten in a last 16 replay at Ibrox back in February. He revealed that the episode had scarred his colleague and admitted that he felt the need to lift his spirits in the days afterwards.

“I have big respect for what he did,” he said. “It didn’t surprise me, because I know what kind of man he is. It’s a touchy subject and it’s one of the reasons why I suspect he stayed down south so long. He’s come back up, it’s reared its ugly head again and I know it did hurt him. But he’s a good man, a good manager and he knows what he’s doing.”

“When you know somebody’s hurting, you’re just there, aren’t you? It’s just a natural thing. You just do your job. If it helps for me to be a bit more responsible around the place with the players, then I do it that way. I won’t actually go up to him or give him a hug or anything: you just do what you do to support.”

Kilmarnock, who are bidding to finish third in the Ladbrokes Premiership and secure an automatic European place, take on Rangers in their final league game at Rugby Park this afternoon and Dyer knows the visitors will take them seriously as a result of the progress they have made under Clarke.

“Especially at a club like Kilmarnock, where you’ve got bigger clubs, sometimes you need your manager to step up and make a stand,” he said.

“That’s what he’s done all season, and it’s worked on the pitch as well. Teams don’t say it’s just Kilmarnock, they’re going to roll over. They know they’re going to be in a tough game, and that’s because of the manager.

“When you come in, you just hope you can do your best and show an improvement. Everyone has worked hard to get us to where we are. It’s been a dream.”