Kenny Shiels was manager of Kilmarnock from April 2011 - June 2013. He left his post as head of youth at Tranmere Rovers to become assistant to Mixu Paatelainen in June 2010. When Paatelainen moved on nine months later, Shiels was promoted to the manager's post on an interim basis before being given the post in the summer of 2011, bringing in Jimmy Nicholl as his assistant.
In Shiels' first full season in charge, Kilmarnock finished seventh, and had his biggest achievement when Killie stunned the Hoops with a 1-0 win to claim the 2012 Scottish League Cup. He then led the club to back-to-back victories over Rangers in 2012 and secured the club's first victory at Celtic Park in 57 years in October of that year.
However, a clause in a contract agreed with chairman Michael Johnstone allowed the club to dismiss him if they failed to finish out of the top flight's bottom four, which happened at the end of Season 2012-13, where Killie finished 9th losing 4 of their last 5 SPL matches. Chairman Johnston also cited difficult relationship between Kenny and the Scottish FA which resulted in several touch-line bans.
Jimmy Nicholl resigned his assistant role (to join the Hibs backroom staff) in early June 2013 without being interviewed for the manager's job.
Kenny said upon his departure from Killie:
"I'm heartbroken but that is football. It's hard to take but I will just have to get on with it and try and get another job somewhere. I think I've left Kilmarnock in really good shape. We have got stability and I've built the foundations. But I feel that I've been the victim of falling in love with the football club. I tried to over protect the club and that was my biggest weakness. I just want to apologise to the supporters for that. I treated the club like my family and I love my family. I loved the football club too. I didn't set out to harm the club but as I tried to protect it from what I felt where injustices, I became a victim of that. The chairman was good enough to give me the opportunity to manage the oldest club in Scotland and it was an honour to manage a fantastic club. It's been something I will treasure the rest of my life. I feel in love with it too much and that was my weakness. I want to thank Michael for the opportunity to manage the club because without that opportunity I wouldn't have had some great experiences."
Sept 16th 2017 Kenny Reflects Back at His Time at Killie: “Scottish football was fantastic for me on a number of fronts. I wouldn’t totally class myself as a wind-up merchant, although I am in certain aspects. It can be borderline between that and controversy. Controversy comes from the truth. In football management if you’re too truthful you can become a victim. I once referred to Celtic as the monsters of Scottish football and I meant it in the context of the size of the club. However, it was taken out of all context. I didn’t mean it that they were ogres or not pleasant people. For the Scottish FA to pull me over the coals for that was stupidity, absolute stupidity. Some of the achievements at Kilmarnock, though, were unbelievable before my departure. I think I became too popular at the club, which wasn’t the best thing. Killie will always be close to my heart. It’s a real football town and there’s potential there, but the lack of industry in the area doesn’t help. It’s a great club and I’ve great memories. I can’t say anything against anybody. I got 14 players into youth international squads and gave many first team experience That meant as much to me as anything else I did at the club, including the League Cup. I did everything I could to get the town behind the club, including going out to local pubs to sell season tickets. When I eventually left, it was said our home record wasn’t great. But it wasn’t that bad. Our away record in my last season was unbelievable — we beat Aberdeen, Hearts twice, Celtic and Rangers. At Rugby Park we had too many draws and not enough wins and the chairman mentioned that as a reason for getting rid of me, but he didn’t mention the away form. We were within seconds of getting into the top six on a shoestring. My plan was to be long term at Kilmarnock. My dream was to bring through a team. I continue to get fans saying they wish I was still there and that’s nice, it means a lot. I mean that as no disrespect to Lee McCulloch. I always look out for the club’s results. By the end the authorities were out to get me, there’s no question. I took them on and to this day I feel I was in the right. I think the Kilmarnock supporters liked me because I was getting results — and I was fighting the corner of the club.”