How Motherwell boss Graham Alexander plans to sharpen his players' minds

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander will redouble his efforts to sharpen his players' focus following their 3-0 defeat at Dundee.

Motherwell's manager Graham Alexander. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Motherwell's manager Graham Alexander. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

On the back of consecutive wins over Aberdeen and Hearts, they followed their best performance of the season with arguably their worst and now host fourth-placed Dundee United in the cinch Premiership on Tuesday.

Alexander will continue trying to maximise his squad's "mental preparation", which he blamed for Saturday's performance.

"The most important thing is we have a consistent level of focus, preparation, commitment, work ethic, because I know you cannot always produce the skill levels, because you always have an opponent trying to stop you," he said.

"You really cannot have an opponent stop you from working hard.

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"When I am talking about working hard, I don't think any of my players were lazy on Saturday but we came off it a few per cent and that's enough for us to drop our levels.

"We have to avoid that at all costs and I think that starts in the mind and ends in the mind, and for me that's what we have to work on.

"The mentality, focus and discipline is just as much a skill that you have to practise and train as any other aspect in professional football.

"You use absolutely everything you have got - the training sessions, analysis, your other staff, good examples of team-mates. You try to make them look at the most consistent players - how does that players approach his everyday training, his life? Is he on time every day? Is he first in the gym? Is he doing all the things he needs to do? And if he is, then copy that. There's great examples for all players to follow in football.

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"Our job is to remind them how to do that but it's a constant process because it's easy to lose discipline and focus, because there's so many distractions in the world.

"But ultimately, as a professional footballer, you are in football to win games. So that should be the forefront of any other distraction. But they are all human. I was human once!

"As an experienced man and football manager, I understand that I needed leadership and guidance, and examples at certain times of my career and that's what we have got to provide for these players now."

The former Scotland international made more than 1,000 appearances in the English leagues and played into his 40s but the best years of his career came through experience.

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"I don't forget when I was poor as a player or had slightly bad focus," he said. "I don't look back on my playing career and think I was absolutely top notch all the time. I don't kid myself that I never made a mistake because I did.

"But I want to give my players the benefit of the things I should have done better as a player and let myself down, and I don't want them to make the same mistakes.

"That's where our work comes from and when we do feed back to the players, they are hungry to improve and they want to win."

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