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Page last updated at 23:26 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Craig Brown, the evergreen manager of Motherwell

Archie Knox and Craig Brown
Knox and Brown have shown they are still on the ball at Fir Park

By John Barnes

As the old saying goes: "The old ones are the best!" It's a phrase that could be associated with the Motherwell manager, Craig Brown.

He turns 70 on 1 July, yet his enthusiasm is as fresh as when he first took charge of the Scotland national side back in 1993.

The arrival of Brown and his assistant, Archie Knox, a mere fledgling at 62, has transformed the Fir Park club from one on a downward spiral with a disgruntled dressing-room into a leaner, meaner outfit on an upward curve.

Craig Paterson, who was part of the Motherwell team that won the Scottish Cup in 1991, is not surprised by the impact Brown has made at his old club.

"It's probably typical of the man," Paterson told BBC Scotland.

"He's known to be a man who can go and organise and get things moving forward.

"You just have to look at his record with the Scotland international team. He made them very difficult to beat.

"When Scotland were qualifying for major finals, Craig was in charge and it was down to getting the best you possibly can from the players at your disposal. He seems to be a master at that.

Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan
Craigan has been restored to the team under Brown

"Archie plays his part as well. They seem to accept they are a double act."

When Jim Gannon was sacked in December for his poor handling of day-to-day matters at Fir Park and his refusal to sign a contract, chairman John Boyle turned to the veteran coaches.

Paterson, now a BBC Scotland football pundit, believes that was a bold appointment.

"It was a big decision by the chairman to take someone with vast experience because, if it didn't work out, I'm pretty sure he'd have got a lot of stick. Thankfully, it's turned out to be a masterstroke," insisted Paterson.

"The team virtually picked up since the day he arrived. One defeat to Hearts, when he wasn't totally in charge, then eight matches unbeaten in the league and only one goal conceded in those eight games. In anybody's language, that is a quite magnificent record."

Under Gannon, club captain Stephen Craigan, along with midfielder Keith Lasley, were regularly sidelined, as was defender Stevie Hammell to a lesser extent. But, as soon as Brown took over, he recalled the experienced trio to the team.

Gannon's reign ended after a run of seven games without a win as he stuck by youngsters.

And Paterson believes Brown could spot the problem immediately.

"When Craig came in, he realised the first thing he had to deal with was a lack of leadership, so that was plan A," said the former Motherwell defender.

"Get these guys back in there. He knew there was quality in the team, but it was leadership and guidance that was lacking.

"So the first thing he did was restore the steady Eddies - the guys you know you're going to get 90 minutes out of week in, week out - and the minute he did that, the fortunes seemed to have turned.

"That's just a manager who knows his business. He realised what the problem was and the good thing was he had the people sitting there and he knew they would make an impact for him.

"These lads were probably considering their next move. But, when the new manager came in, it gave them a new lease of life.

"The guys who were in the team had to earn the right to stay there. The guys who were out thought it was Christmas again and an opportunity to get back in.

"The three of them were thrown straight back into the side. It worked for them and it was a major bonus for the club as well when you see the results."


Paterson is impressed by the way Brown and Knox have adapted over the years to the changing face of the modern game. They've even brought a freshness to the club by their ability to delegate.

More responsibility has been passed to physio John Porteous and youth coach Gordon Young - in particular the way they have become involved in preparing players in the pre-match warm-up.

"It's just another area of not leaving anything to chance and allowing people at the club with expertise in certain areas to do what they're good at," explained Paterson.

"Then, when the players come back into the dressing-room and see Craig and Archie, they know it's time to get down to business.

"Some managers are set in their ways, but those who have survived are the ones who've realised the game has changed year after year or decade after decade, as is the case with Craig and Archie.

"As the game has progressed with modern techniques, new training methods and diets, they have moved with the times. And they've shown they are still more than capable of doing a job, as the results suggest.

"They've made a fantastic start and they're going to want this to last and last. It won't be a one or two season thing for them.

"I'm sure they've gone into Motherwell with a plan of staying there for quite a few years."

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see also
Well merit shut-outs, says Brown
20 Feb 10 |  Motherwell
Award for Motherwell club - Brown
04 Feb 10 |  Scotland
Brown given stint at Motherwell
29 Dec 09 |  Motherwell

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