Alexander the Great? Manager respected, though not loved, a year on

Last updated : 07 January 2022 By Derek Wilson

Graham Alexander celebrates a year in post as Motherwell manager and, if he is minded to do so, would be well entitled to raise a glass to his achievements over the last 12 months.

Football is a results business as the cliché goes and in that regard no one can have any complaints about the job he has done so far.


He took over from Stephen Robinson with the squad desperately in need of a refresh at the end of the reign of the manager who reached two cup finals and finished third but hung on longer than was good for himself or the club.

Winless in 10 and in the thick of a relegation battle, safety was secured relatively simply in the end though the pragmatic nature of our play raised eyebrows among some of the support.

A thoughtful summer saw Alexander openly use the League Cup as pre-season and our dismal exit at Dens Park – effectively sacrificing one of two potential shots at glory – meant he had a lot to make up for in the league campaign.

There is no doubt that Alexander has received backing from the board most recent managers could only dream of but while he has taken the odd punt, his recruitment of proven quality – relative to our level – has generally been solid.

Perhaps more significant is the massive improvements seen in players he inherited with Devante Cole and Tony Watt transforming into dangerous forwards while the improvement in Ricki Lamie and Bevis Mugabi at the back can hardly be understated.

Sitting fourth in the table at the winter break cannot be sniffed and our home record in particular is formidable with only Hibs, outside the Old Firm, leaving Fir Park with the points back on the opening day.

But the style remains a concern, however, and certainly explains why there is no great feeling that success is coming despite a 2021 points tally better than everyone apart from the Glasgow pair.

How often have fans left Fir Park feeling entertained?  Satisfaction at routine or robbed wins, over St Johnstone or Dundee, is one things but the thrill of a good performance has only been delivered on a handful of occasions.

Those displays – against Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United – certainly suggest we have potential but the horrific 3-0 loss to Dundee and other matches we simply didn’t turn up for show how fragile we remain.

Alexander said on his arrival he was looking for a change from the English lower leagues and wanted to pursue Europe and cup success. Falling short of those goals is not necessarily failure but in that case supporters will be asking just what they are being asked to spend their money on each week.

Turning a sinking ship into a solid mid-table outfit may well turn out to be easier than taking a midfield side into the upper reaches given the money being spent in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and, despite previous financial complaints, the tangerine half of Dundee.

So if Alexander is to move the feelings of the Motherwell support from respect and grudging admiration to love and appreciation, the next year will likely require his best period in management yet.