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Boss Alexander glad to be back

By Pete Oliver

Keith Alexander
Keith Alexander is convinced he can keep Macclesfield up

As job offers go, taking charge of a team clinging on to its Football League life hardly appears the most enticing.

But the gloomy outlook provided by Macclesfield Town's run of just two wins since the middle of November did not deter Keith Alexander.

The 49-year-old made a rapid return to football at Moss Rose last week, just six weeks on from his dismissal as director of football at Bury.

But he said: "I'm a manager. I like to be involved with players day-to-day."

Alexander told BBC Sport: "In the last job I didn't have that so it's great to be back.

"That's the thing with football. You rarely get a job with a team that is top of the league or doing well.

"You have to rescue people or go to clubs that have been in administration, that sort of thing.

"I have got a reputation for doing that. It was like that at Lincoln, then Peterborough had little money when I went there and it was the same at Bury.

Ian Brightwell
Macc recorded only two home league wins under Ian Brightwell

"It's a difficult job here but that's life and I'm pleased to be here."

Alexander lost his last job at Gigg Lane when he was sacked, along with manager Chris Casper, in January.

It was a role not best suited to Alexander's qualities of working directly with players, nurturing untapped talent and getting the best out of limited resources.

That was never better illustrated than at Lincoln City where Alexander started a second spell as manager on the day the club went into administration in 2002.

Remarkably, the former Lincoln striker turned the club from relegation favourites to a team that finished in the League Two play-off places for four successive years under his care.

For now, though, his focus is very much at the other end of the table, where Macclesfield are only one place and two points above the relegation zone, having played more games than any of their relegation rivals.

Alexander has just 11 more games to save the Silkmen from the drop.

"Time will tell if we have got enough time but that's what I am trying to do. We are just looking at these 11 games and then we'll see what happens," he said.

Paul Ince
Paul Ince saved the Silkmen from the drop last season

Macclesfield, a League club since 1997, spent all of last season in relegation trouble before a Paul Ince-inspired revival just kept them up.

Ince subsequently left for MK Dons in the summer and Ian Brightwell was unable to sustain the momentum with a largely new squad.

Just two home wins all season and a tally of 37 league goals in 35 games are recipes for trouble and obvious statistics that Alexander needs to work on.

Macc had actually lost their previous five games at Moss Rose until Alexander kicked off his reign on Saturday with a 1-1 home draw against fellow strugglers Notts County.

"If you look at it over the weeks we have not won many home matches," he said. "That's why I was pleased to get a point on Saturday.

"After losing the previous five it was a start. The problem with all the teams down there is that they can't score. I have got to try and address that. It's difficult to attract that kind of player, but that's what I'm trying to do."

Alexander is restricted to the loan market and out-of-contract players before the transfer deadline is reached later this month.

His first recruit, giant striker Fola Onibuje, was out of work after leaving Shrewsbury Town earlier this season.

At the age of 23, he has already been at half-a-dozen League clubs but may be a gamble worth taking when the difference between staying up and going down could be just a handful of goals come the end of the season.

Onibuje had been training with Southport and Alexander has proved in the past highly successful at bringing in players from non-league football, particularly at Lincoln.

Everybody says 50 points, but it might be less than that with five teams in it. Obviously things have not been fantastic. But it can be done

Keith Alexander

His former number two at Sincil Bank, Gary Simpson, has rejoined him in a similar position and Alexander hopes some of their successful methods can be replicated at Macclesfield.

"You have to mix and match depending on what job you are doing," he said. "But the supporters of Macclesfield are no different from the supporters of any other club.

"If you are a supporter you want to see your team get promoted. If you can't do that you want them to be in the play-offs.

"You don't want them to be near the bottom. But obviously things have not been fantastic."

Alexander believes Macclesfield are now competing in a mini-league where positions more than points are vital.

If it goes down to the last month, games against Wrexham, Mansfield and Bury could be decisive.

"Everybody says 50 points, but it might be less than that with five teams in it. It will be a hard task to get that many," Alexander added.

"I think it's the bottom five really. Dagenham have had a good run, and one or two other teams that were down there have had runs.

"If players look at the table, and I'm sure they do, they just need to look at Dagenham and see the kind of run they have been on. It can be done."

see also
Macclesfield 1-1 Notts County
01 Mar 08 |  League Two
Silkmen appoint Alexander as boss
27 Feb 08 |  Macclesfield Town

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