OF all the ways that Arsene Wenger’s long reign at Arsenal has influenced the next generation of managers, perhaps it is their inability to see controversial incidents involving their own team that has been the most prominent.
So it was that Motherwell boss Graham Alexander broke out into a broad grin as the subject of Devante Cole’s kick at Celtic’s Ismaila Soro was broached yesterday, as the Motherwell boss insisted he had turned his back to the play as his forward took temporary leave of his senses in Saturday’s narrow defeat.
Certainly, with Cole being booked by referee Nick Walsh on the day, Alexander considered the matter closed, and the Fir Park boss would have been pleased to hear that the SFA agreed his striker had no case to answer.
“I didn’t see it at the time,” Alexander said. “When he lost the ball I put my head down because we were on the attack. I haven’t looked back because I thought it had been dealt with at the time.
“After the game I was focusing on the game in front of us. We went on the analysis which they feed back to us.
“I’ll look at it but I didn’t hear any complaints or their players didn’t make a big deal so I thought the ref had dealt with it.
“I asked him about the goalline clearance which they cleared up straight away and he didn’t mention anything so that’s it as far as I’m concerned.
“I know Coley from down south playing against my teams and that’s never been the case at all [that he is that type of player]. It’s not in his nature at all to do that.
“I went home down south on Sunday so I wasn’t aware it was being talked about until Monday. I spoke to the referee about a couple of the decisions and he cleared them up and I agreed with him.
“We didn’t even discuss anything after that and that’s how I see it should go forward.
“You get the game done and if things are dealt with at the time then for me it’s gone. That’s why I haven’t looked back on it and paid any attention to anything because once the Celtic game was over we moved on to Kilmarnock.”
Alexander believes the task of taking on Killie tonight may have been made harder for his Motherwell side with the arrival of new Rugby Park manager Tommy Wright over the weekend.
“Tommy coming will give them a lift,” he said. “We’ve got to focus on what we bring to the game. We don’t know how they’re going to play.
“For me our biggest challenge is getting our game going and carrying on our performances from recent weeks.
“I know Tommy’s work and he’s done fantastic work for numerous years at St Johnstone. I believe he’ll do something for Kilmarnock.
“Celtic, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Ross County, it’s all an opportunity for us to add to our tally.
“I know coming into a club as a new manager you want to get your ideas across as much as you can. We only had one day before our first game, Tommy’s had a couple.”
As well as downplaying the incident involving Cole and Soro, Alexander was keen to downplay the significance of the double-header facing his men, with Killie just a point behind Motherwell in the table and bottom side Hamilton to come on Saturday.
“Even if we win we’re still in a position we don’t want to be in,” he said. “It’s not that one game will decide our season.
“It’ll be game by game adding to our tally. It’s not a magic wand that will suddenly jump us up the table. On the other side, not winning isn’t a disaster.
“That’s not saying we don’t want to win. We can’t think it’s do or die. It’s concentrating on the process of winning a game of football.
“If you jump ahead to look at where the points will take you takes away the focus on the pitch. We keep it simple and clear from perspective. They don’t need us to put the jam on the top.”