Reaction: Alex Cleland Post-match Interview

Tuesday 10th October

Following today’s 5-0 defeat to Hibernian at the Oriam Performance Centre Saints Under 20s coach Alex Cleland spoke to the Official Website about his thoughts on the game. “Again we just defended so poorly at all the goals. We just followed on from last week, we were so poor defensively. I told them that if you can’t defend it doesn’t matter how many shots you have, how good the players you have got up top and midfield, if you can’t defend when you are asked to defend you are never going to win any games no matter what level you play at. The defensive side was neglected by us today but it is neglected by a lot of teams and you look at all the best teams and they can defend properly and that’s why they win most games.”

After making several appearances from the substitutes bench in recent weeks 16-year-old striker John Robertson was making his first start for the under 20s this afternoon after signing this summer from Tynecastle FC and Alex went onto reflect how he thought the young striker got on. “It was good for John to get his first game today, he did ok. It was just unfortunate we couldn’t defend. The only defender I thought that did anything for us today was the left back Cameron Thomson and I thought the rest were poor. I felt sorry for Ben McKenzie in goals; to lose five goals he can’t be blamed for any of them. It was just so poor defensively from our point of view. It was not just the defenders the midfielders have to take responsibility as well because we defend as a team and we just didn’t defend well again today.”

Alex then went on to look ahead at the plans for the next few days as the under 20s build up for their next game against Ross County next Tuesday evening. “Believe it or not we worked a lot on our defensive shape, on stopping balls through, defensive work but it probably didn’t look like it today. Again, we will have to go back and work even harder at it. We said to the boys it doesn’t get any easier and unless you can defend properly you are not going to win any games at all in this league. Once you start defending and doing the jobs they are meant to be doing then we will start winning games. It’s pretty simple, I like to keep things simple and basic for them and once they do the basics first then we can start thinking about how many shots we’ve had, how many crosses we’ve made. But just now that’s the last of our main concerns. Our first concern is how to defend as a team, be hard to beat and at the moment we are just not doing that.”

Finally, today’s game took place on the indoor 3G pitch at the Oriam Performance Centre at Heriot-Watt University. It is Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre and it was developed as a result of the findings reported in the McLeish report into Scottish Football. Alex was asked about his thoughts on the facilities available at the Oriam. “The facilities are brilliant. It’s the second time I have been here but it was not great for me as we lost 5-0. But the facilities are brilliant although I must admit Hibs are a great side, they play good football and they gave us a lesson today in football but we contributed by how bad we were defending. As good as Hibs were, we defended so poorly and that contributed to the 5-0 defeat.”

Interview by Daryl Scott