When Eric Black was brought in by Blackpool as an adviser to Barry Ferguson, most assumed it was the product of a long-term friendship between the pair. And technically it was.
Black was part of the Scotland coaching set-up when a 20-year-old Ferguson was selected for the U21s in September 1998.
Incredibly, it was the last time they had properly spoken until the 50-year-old was brought in as an advisor three weeks ago.
“When I had the U21s squad with Scotland about 16 years ago I had him in my team,” explained Black.
“That’s what probably the last time I spoke to him properly.
“I’ve seen him to say hello to at various clubs, but not really spoke to him since then.
“I was working in France twice a month on a scouting thing.
“But when Barry called me and asked if I would help, I thought it was a great opportunity.
“Myself, Bob Malcolm and Malcy Thomson are just here to help and support the manager.”
Black, who has vast Championship experience after roles with Birmingham, Coventry and Blackburn, has been brought in at Bloomfield Road on a part-time basis.
He arrives two games before a game and sits up in the stands on a match day.
And in the four games he’s been involved in so far, it would appear he’s had a positive influence with Pool finally ending their 20-game win-less run with victories against Millwall and Huddersfield.
On the job, Black said: “I’m delighted with the role, I must admit.
“It’s obviously a slightly different role to what I’m used to, but I’ve certainly enjoyed working with the lads.
“I’m just trying to assist Barry in any way I can to help the team.
“I’m used to being a little more hands on in terms of being on the training field and match days on the touchline.
“But it’s nice to get a different perspective from the stands and report back to Barry.
“It’s a different role to me but not one I’m totally alien to.
“You can get a different perspective up in the stands.
“Obviously when you’re a manager you have to be down on the touchline to have an impact on the team.
“So it’s understandable why managers sit down there, but it’s good sometimes to get a different view of things.”
While Black was a regular at Championship games, his knowledge of Blackpool’s squad was limited.
But he’s already seen enough to be able to offer advice to the boss.
“I hadn’t seen too many Blackpool games this season, I’d only watched them once or twice,” he said.
“But I’d seen plenty other Championship games so I knew roughly what they were all about.
“When I came in I had to assess everything, I watched the two games here then the away one at Leicester.
“I’ve seen five games now and obviously I’ve built an opinion.
“That’s all Barry’s asked me to do here, give an opinion.
“If that can be helpful to the outcome of the games then great.”
Black has worked with a host of top managers during his career, so he knows a decent boss when he sees one.
And he’s already tipping Ferguson for the top.
“Barry’s a young manager who really wants to do well and I’ve been very impressed with his plans,” said Bellshill born Black.
“His vision is excellent, it’s clear in his head.
“He has everything clear in his head.
“This hasn’t just happened over night, he’s been planning it all in his head for quite some time.
“He’s been given a wonderful opportunity here, and he appreciates that.
“His standards are incredibly high.
“There’s a big Scottish connection here.
“We are all coaches, we are all football people.
“Once the ball rolls it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s what you know about the game.”
As it stands Black’s association with the Seasiders is just until the end of the season.
And he was given one brief, to help keep the club in the Championship.
“It’s about trying to get as many points as we can now,” he said.
“We just have to get over the line and keep this club in the division.
“Hopefully then he’ll have an opportunity to change things around.”