Ahead of meeting Celtic supremo Iain Macintosh in a FM17 Project: Celtic v Rangers live stream on Monday, current Rangers manager Matt Stanger needs all the help he can get. Who better to ask than Alex McLeish?
You can read his full interview with the former Rangers and Scotland manager here. And if he follows the advice below, Matt may finally be able to clean up the mess he was left by Alex Stewart…
Here’s Alex McLeish on…
Dealing with the pressure
“There’s demand from the fans. At every club the fans want the team to win, it doesn’t matter what level they’re at. They have super high views about where the team should be. But there’s no doubt that at Rangers you have to create a winning mentality.
“When I first arrived, you’ve got the negative parrot on one shoulder and he’s saying ‘You might never, ever win a game as a Rangers manager’. So my first mission was to win the first game. It was against Dundee United and we won 3-2. ‘That’s it, I’m over the first hurdle,’ I thought.
“I was keeping my targets level-headed. The next one was, ‘What if Celtic beat us in every game?’ But then we played at Celtic Park and we drew. It wasn’t bad going into the cauldron of Celtic Park and getting a draw when Celtic had been kicking our arses for the last two years.”
Handling big names
“The higher the level you go there’s more man management involved. I’ve heard some eminent Italian coaches saying the same thing over the years. With your top level egos, man management is very important.
“I remember going in and doing the warm-up with the players at Rangers, and I started to get into the individuals, running around Murray Park training ground. I started talking to Ronald de Boer about his career at Ajax, and later on in the season, when we were having a run of success, he said to me, “I was amazed when you knew all my history.”
“When you’re in the dugout, or technical area, you’re always anxious about the result. Only when you get three or four ahead can you relax. You’re always anxious about the outcome, but less so when you’ve got great players out there. It’s a question of trust.”
Building confidence and team spirit
“I’m a big believer in trying to instil confidence in players. How do you that? I made training bubbly, I got into the individuals. You show them evidence of what they’ve done well in the past, and what they can do again. A lot of video work.
“We’d go out together. There was a particular Japanese restaurant the players liked and the staff would go with them. It was always done at a time when it was well before a game was coming up. We picked our moments.
“We did a trip to Dubai when we had a winter break – the first ever Scottish winter break – and we did a training session in the heat. The players came back with a wee bit of Vitamin D in their bodies and a bit of confidence.”
Choosing a style of play
“Rangers fans, Celtic fans, they expect a certain style. They want you to play good football. But it can be very difficult when a team is ahead of you in the quality stakes, when they’re able to invest much more than you. They do have an advantage.
“But as Johan Cruyff says in his book; as a coach, when you have inferior quality, you have to do everything you can tactically to try and negate the opposition’s quality. The purists would probably say, ‘Did Cruyff say that?’ Well he did say that. And that is the art of being a coach.
“You have to try and negate that gap in quality. That word ‘try’ is a big factor, because in one moment the extra quality can undo you. And that can be the difference. That’s the difference between the best teams in the world.”
Join us next Monday for a live stream of Celtic v Rangers, Iain vs Matt, on the BetBright Facebook page.