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Graham Alexander wants Motherwell to take ‘more than hope’ into Celtic clash

Celtic v Motherwell – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander has urged his players to go into Saturday’s visit of Celtic with the same expectation of victory as their opponents.

Alexander has set about instilling a winning mentality into his side since arriving at Fir Park in January and the approach is gaining traction.

Motherwell sit fourth in the cinch Premiership, a point above Celtic, ahead of Saturday’s clash.

The former Fleetwood, Scunthorpe and Salford manager said: “If you go and play for Celtic or Rangers or Man United or whoever, you are expected to win and you walk in that door knowing that expectancy is there. So why can’t other clubs have that expectancy within their four walls?

“We try to instil an expectancy of winning. We have to put ourselves under pressure as well. We want to be under pressure, we are in a game that’s full of pressure. You can either be scared of that pressure or engage with it and say this is why I wanted to become a professional footballer or a manager.

“I have managed clubs where there is an expectancy to win, but if there hadn’t have been I probably wouldn’t have joined those clubs. Because I want to win.

“If I didn’t think there was a way of winning, what’s the point of me being here? Absolutely none. I know the challenge but if we don’t win the game, 100 per cent I will be disappointed.

“I think our players have that mentality as well. You can see that in them. We have to reinforce that every week but we go into every game with more than hope.

“We have a plan of trying to win, if we do it right, we give ourselves a better chance. I think we have to put that expectancy on ourselves every week.”

Alexander feels affecting his players’ mentality is a crucial aspect of his job.

“Everything is in the mind,” the 50-year-old said. “Everything. It’s all in the mentality.

“When you get to be a professional footballer you are in the top half a per cent of anyone who has kicked a football. There are so many people who played football from childhood to their adult life and only the cream gets to play professional football.

“They all come in with dreams of winning. When you are a kid, you don’t think about getting beat, you dream about scoring a winning goal or winning a cup or a league. The game beats you down a little bit because it’s not like that, it’s not a dream all the time.

“But if you keep that focus on what you thought about when you were a kid and how you can achieve it, and all the obstacles you have overcome to actually become a professional footballer, that’s what you have got to plug into.

“That underpins everything we talk to our players about. We don’t believe they are substandard to anybody else. They are here because we like them, because we rate them, because we think they are good players, and I think we can become a good team through that as well.

“We have 24 players from all parts of the world, from all levels of football, from different backgrounds and family lives. They have all had different journeys to here.

“We have to bring them all together and believe in one thing, but you can only do that together. None of us are good enough to win on our own so we have to be together to have that strength and that quality, and I include everybody in the club.”

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