THEY say you should never go back, and in football management terms, going back to a club where you have been in charge to be the number two less than 12 months down the line is practically unheard of.

In normal circumstances, a job as an assistant manager wouldn’t have appealed to Alan Archibald, but when it comes to his re-emergence at Partick Thistle this week as one of new manager Ian McCall’s deputies, normal circumstances they were not.

For one, a club he loved was in dire trouble and asking him to help, while the other key factor was the ‘Marmite’ man who was asking him to come along for the ride.

Tonight, he will be back in the dugout at Celtic Park alongside fellow assistant boss Neil Scally, while McCall watches on from the stand.

“At this stage, where I am just now, I probably wouldn’t have done it for any other guy or club,” Archibald said. “It was just because it was Ian, I’ve worked with him for 20-odd years.

“He said himself that he’s Marmite, you can love and hate him all in the one go, but I know what he’s like as a manager and I trust him. He trusts me as well, and that’s probably the reason why I came back.

“It took me a bit of time to think about it, because I was surprised when I got the call from him. But I think he’ll be successful, I certainly do.

“He didn’t really explain the role at first, he just said ‘look, I’m going to take over this gig, you coming?’ He’s a one-off.

“I didn’t even need to ask, I’m not one of those guys with a big ego, it doesn’t really bother me.

“When you’re football coach you are out on the training ground. Ian isn’t really big on that, so that will be down to me and Neil.

“The club has changed a bit in the short time I’ve been away, it’s a different place, so it’s a new chapter and I feel different coming back.”

The last year has not been easy for Archibald. A period of reflection about his own failings as manager was followed by the despair of watching from afar as Thistle’s struggles continued.

“Everywhere you go people want to tell you what is happening, and you don’t really want that,” he said. “You want to step away from it.

“I’ve been to different games, but the first time I came back here was three weeks ago to do a match report for another manager.

“It was just hard watching the club struggle, a club that had been so high up and seeing them struggle so badly towards the end of the last season.

“It’s not been easy, but I don’t get into the blame game because it’s hard. All that kind of stuff can be slung back and forward.

“It was just hard to watch, and it’s the usual stuff when a manager takes over, they blame the previous regime. You understand that, that’s what happens.

“The hardest thing for me was that it wasn’t just any other club, it was a club I felt a lot for. I had been here for 20 years, and to see it go through that…

“Other managers probably get sacked from clubs and think ‘I hope they get beat on Saturday’, but I didn’t feel like that.

“I didn’t want them to go down last year, and there was nothing worse than sitting on the outside and seeing the club struggle.”

And so, getting the club back on an upwards trajectory falls back, at least partially, on Archibald’s shoulders. But while he believes the club has to rediscover its culture and identity, he knows that won’t be enough to reverse their fortunes on the field.

“It needs all the factions to be pulling together to get success, and looking in from the outside, that didn’t seem to be the case,” he said.

“We possibly need a bit of that (back), but that’s not enough to win you games and the manager said that as well.

“Being the cuddly toy of Partick Thistle is not the be all and end all, and Ian knows that as well, he’s a very intelligent guy and a very good manager.

“He feels it as well, he lives in the West End and he knows what it’s like, it follows you everywhere.

“He feels it more than anybody.”