Motherwell manager Graham Alexander is looking for the Steelmen to bounce back against his former Preston North End teammate Callum Davidson and St Johnstone.
The Well have taken 11 points from 21 under their fresh boss, including matches against Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen, who all sit in the Scottish Premiership’s top four. But a huge blow came last weekend as they were swept aside 4-1 at home by local rivals Hamilton Accies.
Now looking for a return to form against ex-Preston North End teammate Davidson’s St Johnstone side, Alexander says he and his weekend counterpart go way back: “We had a chat about things that have gone on previously but nothing with regards Saturday’s game.
“We are both competitive professionals, we have spent a lot of time together over the last years. We were room-mates and we competed against each other in head tennis, pool and stuff like that and believe me, we both want to beat each other so I don’t think tomorrow will be any different.
“But it is not a personal battle between me and Callum, it is not who can outsmart the other. All I want to see is my team play how we train. That is my only focus. If we play like we train and don’t get a result, I can deal with that. It’s when we don’t get the result and we don’t play like we train, that is when I’m not happy because I think it is wasted work and I don’t like to waste work.
“We all do our analysis and due diligence on the opposition. I think we all have our own ideas, some managers like to change things for the opposition, some don’t like to and focus on themselves, so there is different aspects to it.
“His team and formation has been pretty settled, we have been pretty settled in the last seven or eight games. For me, the focus has to be just on how my team performs.”
Alexander is well aware his team have to respond from last week’s match against Hamilton but he’ll be without several stars: “We have assessed the performance and result last weekend but we don’t dwell on things for too long, negative or positive.
“The future is this weekend. It was hard for me and how we went about our business in the first 15 minutes. I have said to the players, even if we had been 1-0 up, that I would not have recognised us from how we have been playing and training.
“We feel we have let the supporters down. We know how important it is for us to show how much the game means to us. But we have to take the emotion out of it if possible and deal with the performance and the facts of the game.
“Declan Gallagher hasn’t trained and we have several players missing this weekend. But we have to look at the squad we have available and deal with that. We have a group of players who are good enough to win this game and we will focus on that.”
One positive from the derby defeat was a debut for Max Johnston. The 17-year-old right-back is highly-regarded at Motherwell and may fancy his chances of starting this weekend after first-choice right-back Stephen O’Donnell’s red card last week.
Alexander says the teenager is in his plans on merit: “It wasn’t a bonus or a gimmick, it was because he deserved it. He has been involved in the squad because of the way he trains, because of the intelligence he showed when we played a bounce game two-and-a-half weeks ago.
“He played right-back in that game and showed all the tactical nous that we needed, and that’s why I had no doubts putting him on last week in what was a challenging circumstance for him. We were down to 10 men, it was a difficult game for us, but I thought he handled himself really well.
“When I see Barry Maguire and Allan Campbell, just in my time here, and Max coming into it now, you can see there’s a great system here, a great philosophy in bringing young players through, but they’re coming through with the right character, and that’s the biggest thing for me.”
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