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Tuesday 10th November 2015

John Coughlin interview

Berwick Rangers boss John Coughlin is relishing the challenge of trying to help his new club climb the Ladbrokes League 2 table.

Berwick Rangers boss John Coughlin is relishing the challenge of trying to help his new club climb the Ladbrokes League 2 table.

The former St Mirren, East Stirlingshire and Stenhousemuir manager replaced Colin Cameron at the end of last week and watched from the stand as Berwick went down 2-1 to Stirling Albion. That defeat leaves them in eighth place but they are only three points outside the play-offs.

Coughlin, who is in his second spell in charge at Shielfield, takes his team to Galabank to face leaders Annan this weekend, with the Borderers having lost 4-1 there in a recent Scottish Cup tie.

He told the club website: “On first look, it’s clear that this side has a lot of good footballers and we’ll be making sure we get the best out of the players we’ve got here.

“I haven’t seen all of the squad yet and obviously that’s a bit problematic as I’ve got to try and assess everyone very quickly while also trying to get results at the same time. It’s about trying to find a formula quickly and make sure I’ve got players who’ll buy into that because I’m quite demanding as a coach and I’m sure the players will be aware of that.

“But ability has to be matched with desire. A lot of the teams in this league, if not all of them, will have a sprinkling of players with ability but it’s making sure that, as a team, we’ve got the cumulative desire to win football matches and that’s what I have to try and instil in them.

“It’s up to me to make sure everybody’s tuned in to the way we want to play and the demands I’m going to put on them – and there are going to be plenty.

“Some players will fall by the wayside, and I thought it was the right thing to do to be up front with them and tell them that ‘this is how it is’ from now. The ones that find it hard going will be the ones that you find won’t play. Hopefully two or three weeks down the line, when we all get to know each other, my message will have got through.

“We’re going to have to change it up the way we do things. We need to be more aggressive certainly in the way we defend and also in attack. That’s the message that I’ve given the boys and that will start in my first training session.

“The way we tried to create goals against Stirling wasn’t great and that’s something I need to look at because there’s plenty of firepower in the side with Blair (Henderson) and Darren (Lavery).

“I’ve certainly got something in mind and that’s why it’s important we get them in on Tuesday and Thursday to ensure that my message gets across. It’s only an hour-and-a-half in each session but that’s the nature of part-time football so we have to make the most of the valuable time we have with them.

“I’ve seen the 11-13 players that took part in the game and I’ll see the rest in training. What indicator I get from training is entirely up to them. If they’re busting a gut to try and make sure they’re in the team on Saturday, then there’s every chance they will be.

“There aren’t many managers who are lucky enough to get a job eight points off the top of the league. That’s very unusual. I’m not bothered how many points we are off the bottom because our aim is to try and get as close to the top as possible and that’s what we’ll be putting all of our energy into.”

Martin Inglis