Jim: Being manager was enjoyable but a one off

Jim: Being manager was enjoyable but a one off
by Jonathan Mitchell

Morton skipper Jim McAlister ended his season as an emergency manager but hopes to be back out on the Cappielow pitch as a player again next term.

McAlister and fellow veteran Chris Millar stepped up to take the team after Jonatan Johansson and Peter Houston resigned prior to Saturday’s fixture against Dundee United.

The experienced duo selected the starting line-up and gave team talks prior to kick-off before steering their team-mates to a 1-0 victory to clinch a fifth-place finish.

McAlister took charge from the sidelines while Millar acted as on-field general, and, although the club captain enjoyed the experience, he will walk away with a 100 per cent record and pull his boots back on for another year.

He told www.gmfc.net: “You know what, I loved the experience of Saturday. It was something completely different. I had wee Taz [sports scientist Mark Farrell] and Davie Wylie beside me providing extra sets of eyes.

“It did give me a wee bug for it but management is not something I would go chasing. I would like to think I can still play for another couple of years yet.

“I would be keen to stay at Morton. I’m quite settled and happy where I am. I might be in the new manager’s plans and I might not.

“I am in the fortunate position I have that year trigger there, but I will sit down with the new manager once he’s installed and see what happens from there.”

Explaining the events of a tumultous matchday, the 33-year-old added: “I think I arrived at the stadium about 1.30pm and as I arrived, Housty was saying his goodbyes.

“Obviously I was a wee bit taken aback by that. I then tracked down the manager and he was leaving the ground as well.

“From there, Midge [Millar] and I offered Crawford our services to deal with the football side of things for the game. There were team-mates in the dressing room and we felt it was right to step up as experienced players.

“We didn’t actually know what the team was going to be because the manager didn’t often announce it until about quarter to two. After offering our services, we were told we had 10 minutes to put the team lines into the referee.

“I had the discussion with Midge and said: ‘Look, I’ll step out the team and stand on the side.’ Midge hadn’t started in the last three or four weeks so it was good for him to get minutes.

“We both thought it was important to have a voice on the field and a voice on the touchline. From there, we changed the shape.

“We’ve played 3-5-2 for the last two months, and due to being short of centre-halves, we went to a 4-2-3-1, then quickly picked the team and organised the set plays.

“We weren’t told not to start Charlie Telfer, but we were aware of the situation and decided to give Keelan [O’Connell] a run out, and I thought he was brilliant for an hour. He showed what he was capable of.

“The whole team put events on the backburner brilliantly. There was an inner determination amongst the boys to go out and cement that fifth place.

“All right, there was a wee period in the second half where we were maybe on the backfoot a bit, but we made a couple of changes and it gave us a second wind. We were unfortunate not to go and score a second.

“And after what has been a crazy season – I’ve never known anything like it – it was nice that we managed to finish the season on a positive note with a win.”

 

Image: David Bell