New Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough yesterday outlined his short-term plans and long-term ambitions for the struggling Lanarkshire club.
Having watched them for the first time in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Ross County – a result which leaves them three points off the bottom and two above County in the play-off position – the 44-year-old stressed that his initial task was to secure their top-tier status.
Once that has been achieved, he will turn his attention to mounting a title challenge to Celtic next season, with the intention of becoming champions for the first time since 1932.
But Baraclough has warned his new charges that several of them will have no future at Fir Park as he begins the task of remoulding his first-team squad.
“You take it how you wish but I don’t want players here settling for second best,” he said. “I don’t want to settle for second best. If you don’t believe you can reach the top, why are you doing it in the first place?
“There was a group of people assembled at the Sports Personality of the Year awards last night. If they had that mindset, they wouldn’t have been on that stage.
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“It takes hard work, obviously. It takes a bit of talent. It takes nurturing that talent. Put those ingredients in the pot and you never know where it’ll get you.”
Baraclough revealed that his predecessor, Stuart McCall, had been one of the people he had consulted before accepting the job. McCall twice took the club to second place behind Celtic and also led them to a Scottish Cup final but Baraclough believes he can improve on that record.
“The contacts I’ve made in football are vast and I just feel that I can come here and take them a step further than Stuart did,” he said.
“It’s a tough act to follow because the staff here put a really good team together, got good results and came second.
“When Stuart first took the job, did he expect to be able to break into the top two? Maybe he didn’t but he would’ve had the belief and I’m no different. I see that there is a good training base. I watched the players for the first time this morning and seen a good group of lads and a staff that’s all for the cause – and they all want to get better.
“I’ve also met a bunch of people who are taking over this club and who want to be ambitious.”
The extent of their ambition will be evident once Baraclough has had a transfer window or two in which to increase the depth of talent at his disposal.
“I’ve got an idea what [the budget] is but we’re not going to go out and spend millions,” he said. “With any manager, though, you want to freshen things up. There will be players who have grown stale because they haven’t been playing regularly and they’ll wonder whether they’ll be in my plans. Will they want to go?
“At any club there’s a natural progression of players coming in and others leaving and we’ll be no different.
“I know we won’t be paying fortunes so my knowledge of players and my contacts will need to come to the fore. We’ll see how we go.”
The footballers who remain following his purge will be expected to do more than simply turn up for training and matches – Baraclough stressed that he wants his squad to do more to drum up support for the club.
“It’s important that players go out into the community, to local business, schools, charities,” he said. “It’s important that you do your bit. Everybody has to be pulling together.
“When you get that and you have all those ingredients, it could be powerful. And it can take you everywhere.”
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