Will they end up in the youth squad?
You mentioned that you help out with scouting? Would we ever consider bringing in very young foreign players?
We have plans over the next few years to try to bring to Motherwell the best boys. As has already been seen with boys getting into the first team. If we can bring in other quality players, no matter where they're from, and get them through the system, that's the most important thing. So I would say it wouldn't be a problem if we had to go abroad to look for players, at youth level as well. I think it's something we'll develop in the near future. There's no better model than French football, previous to that it used to be the Dutch way, who's to say who it could be ten years from now, because it works in cycles.
We have to aim for the best. I know I certainly didn't leave a club like Celtic to come here to fail. If we're given the chance, and I'm sure we will be, then we'll be able to operate our own system. It's the same with the first team, if the manager's allowed to bring in the players he wants over a period of time. It's an old cliché, people talk about going through a transitional period but you've got to be fair and give the manager time.
What other changes have you introduced?
The present setup is now unrecognizable compared to what it was before. We sit down and talk to the kids and the parents to give them an update. We've got a charter for boys and a charter for parents. Here's some of the parents charter 'accept that striving to win is more important than winning itself; avoid pressurising children about winning or losing; show the benefits of teamwork, health and exercise; help your children focus on the process of participation rather than the outcome'. In other words, when your wee boy comes home at night, ask how he played, not what the score was.
The boys charter, 'Show good sportsmanship and respect to others; be a role model for your child in relation to sporting behaviour; respect the rules; emphasise enjoyment; encourage a balanced lifestyle'. For the players 'avoid pressurising yourself about winning or losing; take pride in doing your best; turn up promptly; make sure your boots are always clean; set your own standards; take pride in your appearance; make an effort to eat correct foods; take the pre and post match warm up seriously; remember you're representing Motherwell Football Club; your behaviour on and off the park must be of the highest standard'. These are wee things but when you get them into it, they know that they've got to do this and that, and it begins to lay down standards.
I really think there's a vast potential at MFC, untapped in the Lanarkshire area. I know, when I was at Celtic we took a lot of boys from this area - a lot of boys. Which shouldn't happen. We've got to make it tight around here, so that boys won't want to leave here. The quality of the coaches we've got just now and the coaches we're bringing in, I'm quite sure that there's already a significant difference and people are talking about it already. It'll be better in the months and years to come. We've got every backing. I spoke to Mr Boyle, Pat Nevin and Alasdair Barron before I came in and to be fair, the things they've said, they've backed us with. There's no doubts about that.
There were plans for a football academy to be built?
These plans are very much still on the go. AB is the driving force behind that and I think he's quite excited that I came in along side him. He certainly has significant plans that he would like to see carried out in the future, whether near or long term. He's certainly got great plans for an academy.
Are there any players in the current youth system at U17/18 level that you think deserve a mention?
Young David Clarkson has just been picked for the Scottish U17 squad and played over in Malta and Ross Mathie reports that he did very well. I certainly wouldn't want to nominate or name names because that puts pressure on the boys. There's certainly plenty with potential.
Can I make it clear that people must feel free to pick up the phone to me, I'm quite happy to talk to anybody who's got a genuine interest in youth development. I'll quite happily spend time as long as they've got the same aim we've got and that's what the system's geared towards. At any time, if anyone wants to give me a call, they're more than welcome.
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