Johansson: Power of positivity paid off for Ton

Manager Jonatan Johansson believes cultivating a culture of positivity helped his side overcome intense pressure to beat Falkirk and Dunfermline and preserve their place in the Ladbrokes Championship.

Results had seen Morton sucked into a five-way dogfight to avoid the drop, but a 2-0 win over the Bairns followed by Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Dunfermline saw them guarantee their second-tier status with a game to spare.

Although the Ton boss remained realistic and acknowledged his side’s precarious situation, he was always confident his players had the ability and guts to go on and climb away from danger.

And Johansson explained that he felt it was just a matter of blocking out negative thoughts and building a mood of optimism around Parklea.

He told “It was a relief to guarantee we would still be in the Championship next season, of course it was. The message I kept giving the players and kept in mind myself was that our fate was in our own hands.

“I have been pleased with the way the players have been handling the pressure. They have shown character, and really rose to the occasion under difficult circumstances, when it really mattered.

“And that’s the sign of committed players, strong players, and it’s been great for me to see. Because at one stage, after Alloa, it was a very, very negative situation.

“People actually talking about relegation and the media enjoying the drama really adds to the pressure on all the clubs – not just us, all the clubs.

“I’ve been in this kind of situation before as a player – but never with this many teams involved, in a 10-team league, and so many variables. It makes every game so crucial and every game so nervy.

“You can see that because certain games are not good to watch. As a manager you try to control it, but the game is so tense that the football suffers.

“I knew we were good enough to win games, but you also have to be realistic and look at what other teams are doing and their squads, and the fact almost every team was fighting for something in every game.

“I always believed the players could handle the pressure, though. Players like Michael Tidser, the Chris Millars, the Jim McAlisters, the Buckys [Gregor Buchanan] have been in the situation before.

“A few of the younger players maybe haven’t been in that position and there was a little bit of a question mark over how they would react to the pressure.

“We just had to get together as a group and focus on what we’re good at and focus on positivity. We needed to believe in what we were doing.

“We tried to take the pressure away from the players and remove any doubts they might have had. The players responded magnificently and proved why we had such faith in them.”

Greg Kiltie’s late penalty earned Ton the win at East End Park, and Johansson added: “Saturday was all about the result. I guess football is always all about the result, but coming to the last few games that’s especially the case.

“I felt that we had to be brave and play to our strengths. We certainly did that against Falkirk, and I felt we did that second half against Dunfermline.

“The first half was very tricky. They are a good side and came out strongly. They have been dragged into the relegation battle and wanted to ensure their security at home and so it was a tough game.

“The first half wasn’t great, but we tweaked it a little bit at half time. We kept being positive, kept being brave, and got the reward that we maybe haven’t got in certain games.

“So I do think it had been coming, too, I have to say. It came slowly but we found a way to play in the last quarter of the league, and it was just about being strong and getting the right players back and back to fitness.

“The last three games have been really, really pleasing and in a way it’s a shame there’s only one more game because we’re hitting form.”


Image: David Bell