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Graham Alexander insists Motherwell have to find a way to defend better

Motherwell v Rangers – cinch Premiership – Fir Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander is looking for a long-term fix to their defensive problems after admitting his own responsibility in their heavy defeat by Rangers.

Alexander has looked at how he can prepare his side better in the wake of their 6-1 home loss.

Skipper Stephen O’Donnell was sent off but Alexander admitted their defensive efforts as a team have not been good enough stretching back before last Sunday.

Only Rangers, Celtic and Hearts have scored more cinch Premiership goals than Motherwell this season, although their tally of 15 has also been matched by Hibernian, Aberdeen, St Mirren and Ross County. But their goals against column of 21 is among the four worst teams.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aberdeen, Alexander said: “It’s been a tough week for us mentally to digest what happened. We have addressed it and come up with solutions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It wasn’t just about Sunday. I feel we haven’t been good enough defensively anyway in other games.

“I can take the last three goals because we were down to 10 men and I can understand the emotional side of it, and I could have done better and put six at the back and three in front and just sat in. Call me naive or stupid, but I wanted to have an opportunity to get something from the game so I left us open.

“But I felt from 1-0, even though we didn’t mean to, we sat off them a lot. They only had one real chance before they scored but from then on we didn’t do things well enough throughout the team.

“We have also talked about previous games where we have conceded goals which we wouldn’t expect to and we have to do better on that.

“I think it’s only the top three that have scored more goals than us, and we are on joint points with fifth, so there’s still positives to take, but our goals against is not good enough.

“But it’s down to the whole team and my team as well, the staff, to understand how to do better.

“It’s not going to be an overnight fix. We obviously need to go up to Aberdeen and do better than we did last week, but this is going to be a continual process of improving our overall defensive qualities from the front to the back.”

Alexander stressed it was all 11 players who had to put more pressure on their opponents.

He added: “It’s the whole team and when I say the whole team I mean me and my coaching staff as well, because there’s things I haven’t done well enough to prepare my team to defend better.”

Some fans have criticised Alexander’s 4-3-3 formation but he insists the heavy defeat was nothing to do with tactics.

“We have the ability to change the formation,” he said. “We have done it in games where we felt we had to see a result out or get back into a game. We did it last season where we changed formation.

“But the things we are looking at are an individual and collective mentality and approach.

“It was nothing tactical last week, it really wasn’t. We had to compete better, we had to be closer to opponents, we had to put more pressure on and be together as a team. Those were the things that we didn’t see when we analysed it. And it wasn’t pretty to watch.

“So I can understand the result and I understand the reaction to the result because it wasn’t good enough.

“We take that responsibility strongly, my players do as well. We know we let ourselves down last week and we can’t afford to come off a pitch feeling like that ever again.”