Falkirk’s Interim Boss Alex Smith has bowed out in style after guiding the club to it’s first victory in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship this season, while also defeating arch rivals Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday.
The 77-year-old, speaking after the Pars match, began by declaring his happiness at the chants ringing around The Falkirk Stadium come 4:45pm on Saturday afternoon.
“I think I will have a glass of wine to that tonight! It is usually ‘get out Alex Smith’, I am more used to that! I am really pleased with the way the boys have responded and played; it all starts from a strong base. We haven’t looked like losing a goal in the last two games and that always gives you a base to build on to try win games and we were a bit like that last year. I did feel we were too lose: playing a bit too adventurous. We got punished when teams were breaking against us but we have now tightened that up.”
“I am delighted that we have been able to steady the ship and turn it around. It was important today that we followed up on last week’s game and made it two wins in a row when handing over to Paul [Hartley – new Falkirk manager]. Also, to give the supporters something back after the disappointment they had at Dunfermline in the last game, as we didn’t play for an hour and a quarter in that game. We played better when we had 8 outfield players! However, today, we gave the supporters something back and that happens in derbies – from the start until the last, we dominated things. I also thought it was a very good game, too. To get two wins out of two for the new manager coming in and building that momentum is crucial as it gives us a chance of getting back in the mix and that is the most important thing. It springs us into the league in a good frame of mind; if we can continue on our run then we can hopefully get back into the area of the league where we can start competing.”
Asked on the condition of his injured goalkeeper, David Mitchell, who had to be stretchered off after 70 minutes, Smith replied:
“He is away to hospital now; he is away to Forth Valley. He is away to good hands up there. I think his knee dislocated itself in some way and hopefully they can rectify it up there with whatever kind of operation or manipulation to get him back fit as soon as possible as he was excellent today. He was also terrific last week away in Greenock [against Morton[. I thought his general play, his goalkeeping skills as well as his use of the ball were great. When you look back at it, I am sure both of the goals start with kicks from him. I was gutted for him, it is always sad when that happens. The boys have given him great support before he left for hospital and wished him all the best for when he gets up there.”
Smith, who handed the reigns over to Paul Hartley this morning, was in his second stint as Interim Falkirk Manager, having had a spell in 2013 as well.
“I had a chat with Paul out in the corridor and he was impressed with what he has seen so far. He was happy with the way they played; they defended really well and created lots of chances, particularly from middle to front, where we built the play up until the right pass or cross was to be made. We were unlucky not to get another goal or two: he is so excited about getting in and he is the type that once the team has a basic confidence, he will get that to increase. He has been there and done it before – he has won promotion twice with one club [Alloa Athletic] while winning one with another [Dundee], so he knows when you grab the momentum, how to take that forward. He will get the players behind him and the players will get behind him – that is the secret!”
“You enjoy all the challenges put in front of you and I was privileged to be asked to do this [be Interim Manager[ once again. I feel, sometimes, when you take over a team and they are at rock bottom, it is better because then you can get to the base of the problem; solve what you think is the biggest problem and then build from that but football is a complex game. Some experts say football is simple game, but they have got it the wrong way around: football is a complex game made to look simple by good players and by good football – using the ball properly, running into the right position to receive and use the ball well, which is the most important thing, but, the collective team spirit is something you try to get: you can get that from a base when the players are so low and they need to stop and think. You need to get it going the other way and when they get that winning feel back, they remember how it feels as they’ve had it the last three seasons here. They were winning matches at places they had no right to win at. We have got it back again – as long as they knew it was there in the first place, it is easy to bring it back. The new boys who have been brought in too – Conrad Balatoni and Jordan McGhee – have been excellent for us. Jordan came here to play centre-half but I asked him to play at left-back and he has done it because of the club and he wants to be in the team and win games. Overall, their attitude has been great and they have been brilliant to work with.”
“I am now able to retire and come back again,” concludes Smith. “Sinatra done it at one time and he got an extra 20 years from it!”