Our website interviewer Martin McConnell caught with with Brian and Ziggy…
Head Coach Brian Rice and Ziggy Gordon spoke to the press following the game at Easter Road….
Considering where you are in the league, your side put up a fight didn’t they?
I’m not sitting back and accepting getting beat or accepting a draw. I’m going to have a go and the players are going to have a go. We’ve had a chat about it long before today and I told them that at half time. It’s 2-0, we’re getting beat 2-0. Anyone not fancy it? Are you quite happy at 2-0? Just get your clothes and away you go because I’m not accepting 2-0. I think you all saw that spirit in the second half, that energy, I couldn’t ask for anymore in the second half. First half I don’t think there’s anything in the game.Three crosses; one goes in the back of the net, there’s a fumble that hits the bar, they get a penalty from the other one. Our decision making in the last third was really poor in the first half and that’s something that we’ll need to work on.”
The second goal was obviously a big one, did you see the penalty decision?
“The referee has given a penalty kick and that’s it, end of matter for me. I won’t be arguing about refereeing decisions, I won’t let my players argue about them and I won’t be speaking about them. It’s a hard enough job playing football eleven versus eleven, just get on with the game. If it’s a penalty then it’s a penalty, I’m not bothering about that.”
It’s not a challenge that has to be made though is it?
“To be fair, I haven’t seen it. If he’s made a mistake in the box then it’s an honest mistake for the boy, I’m not going to hang him out to dry. I’ve not got anything to say about referees. I keep saying that I played under a manager that would just sub us if we spoke back to the referee. Now I’m not going to say that’s how it’s going to be, that’s just ridiculous in this day and age. But I do want 100% concentration on the game. There maybe will come a day when we get a dubious penalty, so we’ll just get on with it. The game is hard enough.”
Given the way that players have been used to playing when faced by these situations. Is it a job or a work in progress to coax them or get them to play in that fashion?
“It’s not a matter of coaxing them, it’s a matter of telling them that’s how we’re going to play. They want to be part of it or they don’t want to be part of it. And to be fair, everyone of them is buying into it. I keep saying it but we won’t turn from a team that plays a certain way, to a team that plays a completely different style overnight. Whether it be two weeks or two months. It may take a year or it may take six months. It’s about quality on the ball. Anyone that’s worked with me will know that it’s about looking after the ball, about making angles and working your socks off first and foremost. They boys did that today. I’ve been here before with sides that have been two down with twenty minutes played and walked away four or five down. I never had that feeling today, I never had that feeling. I think we were much better in the second half and much more of a threat. But no regrets apart from not stopping those three crosses.”
Mickel Miller did well in the second half, he obviously took on board what you told the players. He came out flying in the second half….
“Yeah, we sort of started him in a strange position in the first half to see if we could get him to drive on, as he’s really good on the ball. He makes us smile and makes us laugh when he’s on the ball. You know, he really lights up the place as he’s got real ability. I want to see him do it more and I want to see him get on the ball and get in shots and crosses. If he can do that then it might give the rest of the side confidence to go and do it. Like I say, he’s got a lot in there. It’s getting it out of him, getting him to enjoy it. I don’t care about the mistakes, I keep saying to him ‘I don’t care if you make a mistake son, just go and try it and work back if you lose it’, that’s all I’m asking.”
Were there things to build on in that second half?
“Certainly. I think with teams of the past, if we’d gone 1-0 down after sixteen minutes then all the heads drop. But you don’t get that right now, and that’s not to talk ill of the regime before this one. It’s just that there is a different feel around the club. Although we’re second bottom of the Premiership it certainly doesn’t feel like that. I think that everyone watching the game will know that it wasn’t a fair reflection of the game. We certainly dug in, especially in the second half and more than deserved a goal if not something more. But that will come.”
You’ve very much gone on the front foot since Brian has come in. Does that leave it slightly more open for you guys to face stuff at the back?
“No, I think that it is the opposite actually. When the ball goes up now it sticks more. We get more players around the ball and that means I don’t have to defend quite so often and that’s good for me. So, yeah.”
Is it just a mind-set change as well, does the positivity from the way you’re set up play into that?
“It’s a breath of fresh air. I think you get that whenever a new manager comes in regardless of who it is as it gives everyone a second chance. You know players that have maybe not done themselves justice, now have a clean slate to go and put themselves into the starting eleven. That’s what it’s been like. You know myself who has played more minutes than anyone this season, I feel that my position is up for grabs and if I don’t continue to perform then it’s there for someone else to take. That’s healthy.”
Is there anything else that can improve?
“I think putting the ball in the back of the net when you get a chance. Because you know that when we play against good teams, the difference is that they get five chances and score three. We get five chances and maybe score one, that will come. And if that means that we need to have sixteen chances to score three, then so be it. We need to put the ball into the back of the net. But I think we’re defending resolutely everyone to a man, we’re doing a job and when we’re attacking it’s as a team and not as individuals now.”
It’s interesting that you mention spirit there, the manager mentioned that and everyone could see that you were more together watching from the stands…
“At the end of the day, if we do or don’t get relegated we’re going to do it fighting and with our chests out and heads held high. That’s how it’s going to be until the final minute of the final match.”
What difference has Brian made to the day to day at the club?
“I can’t divulge all our secrets. I think that he is a fresh personality and a bit quirky. He’s a very likeable guy that everyone wants to cling on too and speak with all the time. But he’s also got that other side that’s very strict in which he wants things done in a certain way. And if you don’t want to be here you can go out that door, it’s no problem to him. I think that everyone has bought into that and is fully behind him, and that’s what you need when you’re in a relegation dogfight.”