Graham Alexander would rather forget his last meeting with Steven Gerrard – but his Motherwell side won’t alter how they go about things when Rangers come to town.
The Well host the runaway Premiership leaders at Fir Park on Sunday, looking for a first win since Halloween. Alexander’s first game in charge as Motherwell manager ended in a 1-1 away draw with St Mirren last Saturday, his team pressing the Buddies high up the park.
While Rangers will be expected to have much of the ball when things start in Lanarkshire, Alexander wants to see his team play the game their way: “At Salford City this season we played Everton when they were top of the Premier League and that was a tough task.
“We played Leeds United last season. So there are always big challenges in football, St Mirren was one last week. Rangers in any season is a tough challenge, but they’ve been on a fantastic run this season.
“They have quality players and the manager has done a great job. I was well aware of what types of fixtures I was coming into, and part of the attraction of the job was to be involved in big games like this.
“This is football, it’s a tough environment, it’s a tough competition, and everyone wants to win. For me, I just want to see my team play as well as they can, try to implement the things we want to do, week in week out, not just for this particular game.
“We don’t want to go away from what we want to do. For me, we’re trying to implement how we want our team to play, regardless of the opponent. We know it’s going to change, week to week, because of who you’re playing, but for me the biggest target is I want to see my players playing as a team, and going out and giving it their best.”
Back in the latter stages of his playing days, Alexander faced Rangers boss Gerrard when Burnley played Liverpool, and it didn’t go as planned: “I’d rather forget those couple of occasions, to be fair.
“When I was in the Premier League with Burnley we played Liverpool at Anfield and Turf Moor against him and I think he scored a couple of goals and sent us down, actually, so I’ll want to thank him for that on Sunday – no, it wasn’t him, it was over a whole season.
“I got the opportunity to play against big players mainly from my time playing for Scotland and I had that time at Burnley when we were in the Premier League and we came up against people like Steven Gerrard.
“That was a tough task in itself, being 37 didn’t help, but I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to test myself. I had always seen those type of players from afar and I wanted to be up against them, I didn’t shirk away from it, but that’s football and competition – you’ve got to go into it and give it your best shot.”
It’ll be 10 days in the job for Alexander on Sunday and he’s already had plenty to deal with. His first game in charge, a new signing in Steven Lawless and the result of the SPFL appeal for Covid-19 punishments against Kilmarnock and St Mirren have all been and gone.
The Well will need to contest those matches against Kilmarnock and St Mirren now, having previously been given six points. Speaking before that announcement, Alexander says his opening week in Scottish football has been a blur.
He said: “It’s been really hectic with lots to do, lots to cover and lots to implement to get everyone to understand what we are trying to do. I am having to do things quicker than in other jobs because of the stage of the season we are at.
“Usually it’s more of a drawn out thing but I think we needed to do it a bit quicker. They have been really full days. The job is what I expected as I was told there was a good squad and good players, which there is, with room for improvement too. It’s what I hoped for and it has potential.”
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