WHEN the Motherwell board meet today to discuss candidates for the vacant managerial position, they would do well to keep one prospective gaffer in mind, even though caretaker Stephen Craigan insists he is still to apply for the role and isn’t 100 per cent certain he even wants it.
Should the former Fir Park captain decide to become the 58th applicant for this race, the Lanarkshire club could do a lot worse than to at least give him an extended period of time, because judging by Saturday’s win over Partick Thistle, and the immediate improvement shown on recent weeks, they were already doing a lot worse.
That’s not to say Motherwell were sublime against Thistle. Instead it’s a damnation of the ramshackle mob which Ian Baraclough presided over in the matches leading up to his dismissal. Simplifying things, Craigan installed a 4-4-1-1 system with Scott McDonald playing off striker Lewis Moult, a switch which paid off as McDonald doubled the advantage after Frederic Frans’ own goal had given the hosts a half-time lead. Partick will feel they could have snatched a point – Kevin Nisbet smacked the outside of the post with a late effort after David Amoo had pulled a goal back. But Motherwell had deservedly built an advantage by showing greater coherency and organisation than anything witnessed towards the end of Baraclough’s reign.
With one win from one game, Craigan would be forgiven for thinking this managerial lark is easy. But when the under-20s coach and BT Sport pundit entered the media room after the game, he cut the figure of a man lost in a daze, as if he’d just miraculously walked away from a plane crash.
Asked if he wanted the job full-time, Craigan said: “If you told me that for the next five years I’d have to go through that every Saturday I’d probably say no, not for me. That’s my instinct at the minute. You can’t enjoy that. My Saturdays over the last three years have been a lot more enjoyable than what that one was.”
And, yet, Craigan did look like he was enjoying himself. As he talked the glint in his eye became more pronounced, and while he wouldn’t be drawn into committing one way or another, there was a great passion about the manner in which he spoke. “It’s something I’ll really have to sit down and look at,” he said. “I’ve got some good jobs at the minute. My job with the Motherwell under-20s. My work with BT Sport is terrific. So there would be a lot for me to give up. I understand the bug of winning. That’s the drug, that’s what football is all about. That’s the feeling you want every week.
“I was asked the question ‘would you be interested in the job?’ from the owner. I said that the manager had just left his position an hour ago, as this took place on Wednesday, so I wouldn’t be in any frame of mind to give a yes or no. He said that’s fine and we’ll speak as we go.”