MOTHERWELL - Showing Some Steel

  1. MOTHERWELL - Showing Some Steel

    And so it begins....

    Every time for the past five or six years that Motherwell had been on the look out for a new manager he did always fantasize about applying and how he would take on the challenge. Well to be honest it had been a dream for far longer than five or six years but it was only in the last few that he had deeply put thought into what his approach would be. Now that it had at least a shred of realism to it. That is what he told himself anyway as he planned all his moves in his head.

    Steve James began his football life pretty late on. Too late at least to push to become a professional but at 19 his journey took off simply by volunteering as a coach for a local football academy for youngsters in Dumfries. It was from there he was sponsored through his first batch of coaching badges from Early Touches in Child Pathway all through the Youth levels. He found that he had more drive and interest in this than he did to become a player and offered Queen of the South his services for free to gain some actual experience.

    It was while being involved in the coaching courses that Steve met and became friendly with Andre Villas Boas. They got on well and then followed Andre to Academia where he shadowed and worked under AVB while their friendship took off. From there Steve was part of the team AVB took to Porto, Chelsea and then to Tottenham. Boas thought a lot of Steve and his opinions and at Tottenham became his assistant manager.


    In early as ever, with his coffee and paper spread out in front of him he waited for AVB to arrive. They had a Monday morning meeting each week with just the two of them before the players came in for training. Steve James was sat with his head down, lost in the story on the back page of The Sun. 'McCall Gets Blackburn Job' stared up at him from the newsprint. Motherwell were again looking for a new manager. AVB had the same paper under his arm as he walked in and almost spilt his coffee as he let the paper fall to the table.

    "Well I'm not surprised you beat me to it this morning Steve"

    Boas was well aware of Steve's love for Motherwell. He had held a season ticket there with his dad for 10 years before coaching started to clash. He had been involved in the past after he was at Queens and opinions were sought on potential signings etc.

    "This is already cup number two. I have already had a couple of calls from reporters this morning asking for some info, saying they have heard I am being lined up for an interview"

    "That's the second thing I have been beaten to this morning!" Said Boas.

    He threw the Daily Record across the table where Steve was mentioned alongside a few others such as Paul Hartley, Jimmy Calderwood and even Billy Davies as other potentials for the job.

    "As if Andre."

    "It's your job, you know that. It is only a matter of time. We both know you are capable, maybe this is that time." He said with a big smile, he was enjoying this.



    I must have checked my phone a dozen times each hour in hope rather than expectation that day. On the way home AVB patted my back.

    "See you on the back pages in the morning." He called as he headed for his car.


    BBZZZZ BBBZZZZ "Steve, it's Leeann Dempster. How you doing? I hope I haven't interrupted you. I want you to apply for the vacant managers job......."


    "Shit!" I said to myself as I hung up.

    It was all dealt with. Interview tomorrow afternoon, flights were going to be booked for me and potential compensation had even been arranged with Spurs should things progress successfully. No wonder AVB winked at me like that as he left. I didn't let myself get too carried away. Not beyond the loud "Ya Dancer!" that filled the car park at least.

  2. Will follow, a die hard 'Well fan and always love to see a 'Well story on here!

  3. Someone pinch me!

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    "Motherwell turn to James"

    Three days later, after an incredible send off at Spurs where Andre was delighted for me I was a mere hour or two from my first press conference as manager where my unveiling was to happen. In the previous days I had learnt that I excelled in the interviews and in actually fact had been part of a future plan a year or so down the line when it was assumed Stuart McCall would move on to "bigger and better things". This couldn't be bigger or better for me. It turned out AVB had sung my praises and that was pretty tough for the other applicants to beat. A gleaming report from one of the worlds top managers. The club knew my passion and loyalty and felt the ingredients were untouchable, so although untested in 1st team management it was a very exciting risk they were willing to take. I just hoped the fans felt the same.

    I was already fully aware of the strict budget at the club and to make it clear it was reflected in the size of the squad. One of the smallest in the SPL but also one of the few turning a profit over. The club had been punching above it's weight for the previous few years while also living within their means. McCall had done a great job continuing Craig Brown's success and I wanted to do the same. Start wise to the situation yet I was also determined to excel and make history.

    With the clubs size and budget top 6 was the logical aim, that was a must in fact. With Rangers gone however there was an extra space at the top and a lot of teams were capable of beating each other and the board wanted continental competition next year.

    After a quick tour and being introduced to my staff I had meetings with Leeanne Dempster and then my assistant Kenny Black to briefly discuss our plans, roles and expectations before catching up with the players. A good chat with Kenny resulted in us outlining plans from previous meetings. He then took me down to the dressing room where the boys had returned from training.

    Nerves hit me as I walked in through the door but I had been readying myself for this. Deep, slow belly breathing as I stepped in.

    Kenny Raised his voice, "Alright lads! Heads up, phones down."

    I stepped in line with Kenny.

    "Afternoon guys, I wanted to personally introduce myself. I'm Steve James. I have met a couple of you in passing before, I'm well aware who each of you are though and look forward to catching up with you individually over the rest of the week. I very much appreciate the work you have put in with Stuart and Kenny and I hope we can emulate the success and aim to build upon the good foundations which have been layed down. I will see you first thing for training tomorrow.....Oh, someone put this on the rack and feel free to get back to your phones."

    I threw a bright pink training bib towards Keith Lasley with the words "I must do better, I must do better...." penned down the front of it. 'School punishment exercise' style.

    I turned and left the room to hear puzzled laughter through the door as we walked away

    "And now to the media" Said Kenny. "You got another one of those for them?"

  4. Take a seat...

    Motherwell unveil James

    MOTHERWELL - Showing Some Steel-firparki03042010.jpg

    Twenty minutes later and I was relieved to have both those firsts out of the way. The squad was met as was the media. The latter were pretty kind to me and gave me the respect I realised I probably deserved. It was now I had to really believe in myself and my own ability. I had to believe that I had earned my place here and was here on merit.

    "Bring it on!" I shouted inside my head as I was left in my new office. Now it was time to get an in depth look at this team and look at the individuals as my own. Not as they were under Stuart McCall but as my players and what they could offer me.

    The next few days were all about assessing my players and judging the best way to make them fit in a style of play and formation I was happy would work for us and then putting this to them. Also high on my list of priorities was convincing the board to look into searching out an EPL team to become a parent club to us. In line with that I also had to look at who we could bring in and let go in order to strengthen the quality and depth of the squad. Injuries could ravage this team, especially if we manage a cup or, dare I say it Euro run.

    I talked in detail to Kenny Black about how I wanted to play our football. I was confident in my tactical abilities and had learnt plenty from AVB but it was still reassuring to see Kenny react so positively. We seemed to click and understood one another very well already.

    "I want to utilise the attacking options we have while also staying solid. We will work on one key tactic and a variation of it plus a fairly controlling, slightly more defensive option. I want us to have the three options available to us, enough to learn each fluently yet still give us adequate, differing choices. "

    "I like it. I can see this fitting our players perfectly. We'll turn up the intensity of training and get the players well prepped on the tactics. "

    "Excellent! I'll write this up and get print outs for them and we can go through it with them before they head off today, then in detail tomorrow"

  5. Good luck fellow Well fan! I'll follow closely

  6. Nice to see some other Motherwell fans on here.

    I have an incredibly tight scouting set up so I was hoping to put my feelers out and use some contacts (yourselves) to gain extra advice, suggestions or tip offs of potential players.

    Cheers for looking in so far.

  7. Decrease to Expand


    The teams core had plenty of quality, I had some great players who were more than capable of challenging for a top 4 finish. The problem was the lack of depth. The budget was maxed out and we had very little cover plus a few of the current first choice 11 were fresh faced youngsters who hadn't ever had a run of first team games, even combined. The guys had taken well to my tactics and were appreciative of the style of football I wanted us to play, they seemed encouraged and boosted by the way I wanted them to attack.

    "we are going to need to look at shifting on one body for the sake of bringing in two or three." I said to Kenny.

    He knew the reality of it as much as I did. The problem is where to make the cut, who could we sacrifice?

    "We ideally need to get a fee in for someone while also making a saving on a decent wage earner as well. This sadly points to the guys who have cemented their place in the starting line up."

    We sat with all the info in front of us and came to the conclusion fairly easily.

    "Big Higdon or Omar Daly" said Kenny. Exactly as I was thinking.

    The fact they were both higher earners, taking at least a grand a week from the budget plus the fact that I wasn't actually planning on having them in my strongest starting 11 pushed them to the front of the line. There was interest already in Higdon and I knew I could probably get around £600k for him where as Daly, who wasn't up to par with Higdon would have been a struggle to sell without offering him for next to nothing.

    "I'll have a word with the big guy. Can you start the ball rolling on the Lee Bowyer deal. He will be a great addition for a season in the middle of the pitch, where we are particularly short. It will take a lot of pressure off of young Carswell. Hopefully it will allow him to ease himself into the team naturally instead. We'll fire together a shortlist later on"

    Michael Higdon knocked on my already open door and accepted my invitation of a seat, almost seeming aware of what might be on the cards.

    Afternoon Michael, to get straight to the point......as much as I don't want to lose anyone from the squad, especially someone with the quality you bring to the team. You were on fire last season. I do sadly find myself in a difficult situation where to expand the numbers I need to look into letting someone go. I know that you would generate some interest down south if that was to appeal to you and importantly for me you would bring in some much needed funds which would really aid the club. How does this hit you so far? I'm not pushing you out, just sounding the option past you. Both brighton and Burnley have showed initial interest already before we have suggested we would be looking to let you go. "

    "Well gaffer, I can't help but be a bit down about it but obviously a move to either of those clubs would be a good one for me. I think it's just hard hitting as I'd be gutted to be moving away from the lads, it's a great bunch."

    "I know they'd be disappointed too, as would the supporters"

    "How are things looking for me as far as first team football goes this season? Do you have an idea already as far as your selection would go if I were to stay?"

    "To be straight with you....You'd always have a chance. You would play this season with the size of squad we have. You are a quality player and offer us something with your presence and strength which nobody else does not to mention your goal record. However, going beyond rotation I do plan as things stand to start with Henrick Ojaama as my first choice striker purely as he compliments the formation and tactics I want to develop. You have a great record here and I think you can better yourself again elsewhere, if your keen.

    "I appreciate your honesty boss, I'd be all the happier if my transfer aids the club as well. See if you can get any offers, I'd be interested in heading down south. It would have been great working with you but this can be a positive progression for myself as well"

    "You're a good lad. Cheers very much for understanding and being open to it. I'll get on it straight away in the hope I can have an update for you by tomorrow"

    Just as Higdon was leaving Andrew Wilson popped his head around Steve's door.

    "Bad news regarding the parent club I'm afraid Steve. It's not been a success as far as convincing all the directors that this is a good idea."

    "You're kidding!"

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