Graham Alexander says Motherwell have to work on fine margins to get that elusive first league win of 2022 – but says they’re still in a good position.
The Steelmen are seventh in the Premiership table as they head into tomorrow’s Fir Park clash with Dundee, knowing that a win could take them fourth, and they’re also looking ahead to a Scottish Cup quarter-final clash against Hibs on March 13.
Alexander says he would have taken that scenario by this point if it were offered at the start of the season, but after Wednesday’s 1-0 home defeat to Ross County, he knows improvement is needed.
He said: “We still feel that the opportunity is there, it’s still in our hands, with the games that we’ve got, to finish in the top half of the table.
“There is still a massive opportunity to get in that top half, but I bet I’m not the only manager thinking that.
“We look at it; we’re two points off fourth with four games to go to the split, would we have taken that at the start of the season? 100 per cent, we’d have taken that opportunity, and it’s about looking over the previous 20-odd games and how many points we’ve got.
“We’ve got ourselves enough to be in contention, so that was the target at the start of the season, and it’s still there for us. I like to judge our progress, success and failure at the end of the process, rather than half-way through it.When we get to the split we’ll have a look, and when we get to the end of the season we’ll look again, and that’s when we judge what our season is.
“But by no means is it all doom and gloom, because we have a fantastic opportunity on both sides – the league and the cup – to have a really good season.
“But the first thing we have to do is try to win tomorrow, and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Alexander added: “There are things, 100 per cent, that we need to do better, pretty much across the board, and to be more urgent; that’s what we have to put in place tomorrow.
“It’s small margins, 100 per cent. We’re well aware of all the things. We see the score-line- and this is when we win, even prior to Christmas, and we look into the finer details of the games, how we won, how we kept clean sheets, how we scored – so we’re well aware if we dip from those things.
“In general, we haven’t. We just haven’t been on those finer moments both in our box and in the opposition’s box.
“I watched the game and our general play was just OK at best. It wasn’t terrible, but it was nowhere near the speed and pace that we play at – but you saw from the game that we still had the best chances to score , which we didn’t take.
“We can break it all down, I can get really tactical and go information-overload, but you have to score when you get the chances – that’s the reality, and that has been difficult for us.”
Alexander says that Motherwell have got it right for most of this season, and he doesn’t need to start again from scratch, but has told his players to get back to doing the simpler tasks.
He said: “You have to do the basics well, which in general we have been doing, but on top of that you have to find a way to win.
“We have to trust ourselves and trust the process that we had in place when we were winning games, that it will continue to win us games if we make the slight improvements that we have to make.
“It’s not about going to the board again and starting from scratch, there’s no point in that. We’re three-quarters of the way through the season, we’ve won lots of points, over the last 12 months we’ve beaten every team in this division apart from the Old Firm, so we know we can compete with everybody that we’re in competition with.
“So we have to just fine that extra five per cent that turns these games. You see the games all the time, when you look at when we were winning, we were winning 2-1, 1-0, 2-0, we ‘ve never been three and four up in games, so they’ve all been tight games.
“But you need to make sure, or work as hard as you can, to make those margins go your way. That’s what it comes down to, the finer detail. The thing that we know, and is in our control, is that we know where we have to improve.
“We’re not looking at it thinking ‘what do we have to do’, we know exactly where we have to improve and that’s what we’ll have to work on in the training pitch when we can get out to train, and make those improvements quickly, because the games are coming thick and fast.”
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