Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's now or never

Falkirk manage Pressley, The Scottish Football BlogGiven their current predicament and the recent SPL trend for the more mature manager we might have expected Falkirk to go from May to December.

Instead they've replaced the inexperienced Eddie May with the inexperienced Steven Pressley.

It's a major vote of confidence from the Falkirk board, entrusting their SPL survival to a newcomer who only gave up playing a few months ago.

Well, no, it isn't really. It's a cheap option made by a club that must already be budgeting for the cost of relegation. If Elvis keeps them up then he'll have exceeded expectations. If they go down then they are not lumbered with a big contract for an established manager.

Pressley's contract runs only until the end of the season. At that point the club will know if they need to replace him with someone who can win them promotion.

Joining him in the dugout is Alex Smith who filled the Director of Football role with Eddie May. Smith's role never seemed well defined when the new team was unveiled following John Hughes' departure for Easter Road. As assistant coach he should at least be able to use his experience in a practical role without stepping on any toes.

And what experience he has. Fittingly he was born on Christmas Day because he is as old as Santa. No, he's not really but he is older than old Father Time himself. Or Craig Brown as he's known in Motherwell.

The Falkirk fans, although aware that the club have taken the Poundland approach to managerial recruitment even in this darkest of hours, should be comforted by Smith's emergence in a more hands on role. Eddie May seemed intent on asserting his own authority where a calmer, older head might have offered sage advice.

But Elvis is the figurehead and he'll need to deal with the suspicious minds (chortle, chortle) on the terraces. He used his press conference today to predict Falkirk's survival, hardly a surprise as few managers have ever taken a job while predicting a club's relegation.

Sadly fighting talk doesn't distract anyone from the gravity of the situation. Falkirk have 15 games to avoid Heartbreak Hotel, to escape Crying In The Chapel, to avoid the relegation that would make even a Wooden Heart bleed. (That's enough.)

Nothing we've seen from them so far suggests that this Falkirk team are capable of building the momentum that will propel them to safety. Steven Pressley doesn't appear to be the kind of guy who shirks a challenge.

Just as well, because he somehow needs to bring confidence to a team with none, consistency to a side bogged down in mediocrity and persuade a group of players of varying abilities that they can somehow develop the cohesiveness and spirit that they surely need to stand even a fighting chance of condemning someone else to relegation.

I wish him well but I don't envy him the job. I think he might surprise us at times, that results might pick up a little bit. But I've got a horrible feeling that, come May, we'll be saying that "Falkirk have left the building."