IAN Little has another four games to prove he has what it takes to become the new Berwick Rangers manager after being handed the job on a caretaker basis until the end of December.
The 38-year-old, who has spent seven years at Shielfield Park, has been in temporary charge of the team for the past three games following the resignation of Jimmy Crease. His caretaker position has now been extended until the end of December when the situation will be reviewed.
The decision came minutes after Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Queen’s Park, which made it seven points out of a possible nine during his time at the helm.
Chairman Brian Porteous said: “The club have decided to appoint Ian Little as caretaker manager until December 31 when the situation will be looked at again.
“If we feel he is the man to take over on a full-time basis we will make that decision then. If not we will then look at the other candidates on our shortlist.
“They will be informed as to the situation as it currently stands, and if and when we need to consider the other applicants we will contact them again to see if they are still interested.”
Porteous said a shortlist had been drawn up by the board of directors, who met prior to kick-off on Saturday, but he refused to confirm how many were on it, or indeed any of their identities.
“Football is a results-driven business,” said Porteous, “and the seven points we have gained out of a possible nine during Ian’s time in charge represents a good return.”
Little was delighted at the news, and he fully accepted the reasoning behind his appointment on a temporary basis.
“I can’t complain with the decision the board has made,” he said. “I now have until the end of the year to prove myself. It’s four games, and when you say it like that it doesn’t sound a lot. But so far things have worked out well for me and I just hope to keep it going forward.
“Seven points out of nine is probably better than I ever expected, especially after we had a player sent off in the first game and we played most of the match with only ten men. But the players have responded well to the situation. They all know me and they can see what I am trying to do.”
Little, who was previously Crease’s assistant, was thrown into the spotlight following Crease’s resignation after Rangers humiliating 4-0 Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Deveronvale. But for the time being he refuses to sit in the manager’s seat in his office.
“I don’t want to tempt fate,” he said. “I don’t want to presume anything and so the seat will remain empty until such time as and when I get the job permanently.
“I would like the job full time, there’s no secret about that. I would just like the chance, and the time, to introduce some of my own ideas. When I was Jimmy’s assistant, it was all about standing behind him, offering advice.
“Now I am in charge it is up to me to make the decisions. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut reaction. Take Saturday for example. I could have kept Andy McLean in the side. He played and scored at East Stirling last Wednesday night, but my feeling was that we needed a bit more experience at the back. It was the same with Steven Thomson, who was available after suspension.
“These are all calls I am having to make now. Of course I feel sorry for the players who miss out, but that’s football.”
Under Little’s charge Berwick drew 1-1 with Montrose, beat East Stirling 3-1 and Queen’s Park 2-0. The victory over the Spiders was not only Rangers’ first clean sheet in the league this season, but their first in 24 league games.
“We just haven’t been able to stop conceding goals so a clean sheet really was the icing on the cake,” said Little.
Rangers find themselves without a game this weekend because of their exit from the Scottish Cup and whilst Little says that is far from ideal – he would prefer to play a meaningful fixture – they will play a bounce game against as yet unnamed opposition.
“I am grateful for the opportunity the club is giving me,” added Little. “I know this is a great chance for me and at the end of the day all I want is what is best for the club.”
Meanwhile, former Berwick midfielder John Grant, who left the club in the summer, has signed for Spartans.