Before speaking to anyone else, I would like to send my final correspondence as Motherwell manager directly to the most important people, you, the supporters.
It’s fair to say that the last 24 hours or so have been incredibly difficult and emotional for me personally. However, it has also given me time to reflect on what has been a wonderful four years.
I’ve enjoyed terrific highs throughout – my first season we beat Celtic, turned in excellent Scottish Cup Quarter and Semi Final performances before getting to Hampden. Seeing what getting to a National Final meant to the fans, but also the town itself is something that will live with me forever.
I think back to the night we beat Hearts to qualify for the Champions League then the atmosphere at Fir Park for that game against Panathinaikos. For a lot of our players, that was the highlight of their career playing at that level.
We’ve managed to beat Celtic three times at Fir Park, including back-to-back wins. I remember coming back from 2-0 down at Easter Road to win and no one will ever forget that game at Pittodrie in the last game of the campaign. That will go down as one of the best days I’ve ever had in football.
You think back to those games and others with real enjoyment and satisfaction, but not just for ourselves, for what it did for you as supports and the highs they brought. We scored over 120 league goals in the last two seasons, so there have been plenty of positives.
Don’t get me wrong, managers always hold on defeats longer than victories and I acknowledge there have been some hugely disappointing lows. I suppose, in hindsight, I wish I had enjoyed the victories more at the time, but I was always too focused on the next game. I just hope the amount of highs cancel out some of the disappointments when people look back at what we’ve achieved here.
We then come to this season, which has been a huge disappointment and my ultimate decision to step down yesterday. After the win at Ross County and the performance at Celtic Park, there was a real belief that we could get our confidence back and kick on, but the defeat at Hamilton in the Cup, and in particular, the manner of it, really knocked the stuffing out of us.
I struggled to sleep after Friday’s game with St Johnstone then woke up again during the night Saturday into Sunday, thinking about the Dundee United game and I just couldn’t come up with any answers. I felt that with the International break coming up, now would be a good time to step aside to allow the club time.
I have a hope that with a fresh voice and maybe some new ideas, it will give the players that little boost they need. I felt that if I didn’t have the same hunger or desire, if I was deflated, then the players would sense that and that’s not what they, or the club, needs at this point.
I remember saying at Bradford prior to leaving that I take defeats really badly and carry it with me for a long time. This season has been difficult and when you become apprehensive about the next game, that’s your body’s way of telling you that maybe things have come to an end.
Both as a player and manager, you should work all week and really look forward to matches, but if you have that negativity in your head, it’s difficult and I don’t want that to make our situation any worse. I care too much about the place and the people who work here.
I would like to finish by thanking some people who have been invaluable to me. First, to the board – Derek Weir and others – who gave me a chance to manage this fantastic football club. They have all been hugely supportive through both good and bad times.
To all the staff I’ve worked beside: Kenny Black, Gordon Marshall, Jonatan Johansson, Adam Stokes, John Porteous and latterly Aileen Anderson, Alan MacDonald, Bobby Jenks, Scott Leitch, and before him Gordon Young. We’ve been a really close-knit, tight unit who has worked hard through it all and I want to put on record my thanks for all their terrific work and effort.
To the players, both current and past, who have represented themselves and the club so fantastically and achieved so much. You can talk all you like about tactics, formations and shape, but it’s footballers that win you games and they have been outstanding.
I would also like to acknowledge all the superbly dedicated and hard-working staff that work at the club.
Alan Burrows, who has been a great help to me throughout my whole time in both his roles, and the two guys in media, Ross Clarkson and Ally Reilly, who have contributed more than anyone will know to the success of this club in recent times. Karen Paterson, the football administrator, has been a huge source of advice and guidance too over the years.
To Elaine and all the groundstaff, the kitchen and office staff – each one of them have been a pleasure to work beside and made coming in to Fir Park so enjoyable. I will miss them all.
And finally to you, the supporters. I’ve enjoyed an excellent rapport with you all and I hope some of the great days and nights we’ve had together over the last four years have made supporting this football club an enjoyable experience.
The group of young guys in the corner has given home matches a heart, a soul and an atmosphere and it’s fair to say Motherwell FC is certainly a club that gets under your skin.
I would ask you all to rally around the club and the players in the next few weeks and months. We’ve achieved everything with hard work, dedication and a real togetherness and that’s particularly the case when things aren’t going right.
Nothing would give more pleasure if I am back up the road next May with my Claret and Amber scarf, with the team having picked up in the league, watching ‘Well at the Scottish Cup Final once again.
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for the memories.
So long and farewell.