By Jack Crawford

Former Dumbarton assistant manager Stevie Farrell has claimed that no-one in Scottish football has done a better job than current Sons manager Stevie Aitken.

Farrell is now in charge of Stranraer, who Sons face in the Irn-Bru Cup on Friday night, having left Dumbarton in January to return to the club he once coached along with Aitken.

The 44-year-old also said that he felt there was an elitism in Scottish football, and if Aitken had played in the top flight he would already be managing a full-time club.

The Stranraer manager locks horns with his former touchline partner for the first time on Friday night, but remained complimentary of his long time friend.

He said: “I may be biased here, but pound for pound I don’t think that there’s a better management job in Scotland than the one being done by Stevie Aitken at Dumbarton because people don’t appreciate how difficult that is.

“He has six hours to work with players in comparison to every full-time club working every day of the week and he’s kept that club in the division. Arguably in the last two seasons the Championship is more competitive than it has ever been and he’s kept them up.

“If Stephen Aitken’s name had been different then he would have got his move [to a full-time team] ages ago. I think there’s elitism in football. I’ve always said there’s elitism in football and the higher up you go the worse it becomes. If Stephen had played in the Premier League and was a household name he would have got his move a long time ago.

“The only thing holding him back is not his record, because his record is as good as anybody’s, the only thing holding him back is his name. The reality is that he’s not played in the higher divisions in Scotland and for some reason people think that that’s a prerequisite of being a good manager.”

After leaving Dumbarton in January, Farrell went on to save Stranraer from relegation and is now planning for an assault on the play-offs.

He said: “Stranraer’s the only club I would have felt comfortable leaving for. I had no aspirations to manage. I enjoy coaching and I still don’t know whether I’m going to be a good manager or not because coaching is what I love. But I’m enjoying it and I just felt it was the right club and at the time the club needed help.

“Survival was the objective last season. The objective was keeping the side up and we did that. The objective this season is quite different. In League One if you get between 13 and 15 points a quarter then you’ll finish in the playoffs. We’ve got 11 points just now with one game left so we’re just about on track.”

Despite leaving the club at the turn of the year, Faz admits that Dumbarton are still a team he admires and hopes to do well.

He said: “After our game it’s the first result I look for. There’s a lot of good people at Dumbarton. I worked well with the club and made a lot of good friends in a short time. There’s a lot of people I’ve got a lot of respect for. They are a fantastic club, with fantastic people and deserve everything they get.”

Aitken and Farrell are still in regular contact but Farrell knows that come Friday night the focus will be completely on the task at hand.

He said: “There’s every chance things might heat up!

“We’re both passionate about football and our teams and we both know that and understand that. Me and Stephen will always be best friends and have a massive respect for each other in the game and that’s never going to change regardless of how many 90 minutes I come up against Stephen in the future.

“We’ll be competitive in that 90 minutes but at the end of it we’ll sit and have a chat and talk away as we always do.”