IAN Little has won the backing of the Board of Directors at Berwick Rangers and will remain in charge of the first team ‘at least until the end of the current season.’
Little was appointed on an interim basis following the departure of former manager Jimmy Crease, who resigned in October following a string of poor results, which culminated in the team’s exit from the Scottish Cup at the hands of Highland League side Deveronvale.
Under Little’s charge, Berwick went on a four match unbeaten run (a draw followed by three wins) after which he was named as caretaker boss ‘until the end of December.’
He was also subsequently named as the Irn Bru ‘Manager of the Month’ for the Third Division in November.
The job had been advertised and a short-list of possible candidates drawn up, but they were all informed of the situation at the time.
Little was originally told by the Board that he had until December 31 to prove his credentials.
But three days prior to the deadline (on Wednesday 28) a statement was issued by the club which revealed Little would remain in charge for the rest of the season.
The statement read:
‘Berwick Rangers have announced that Ian Little (currently in the role of acting manager) will continue in charge of the team until at least the end of the 2011/12 season.
‘Ian will in due course be appointing an assistant who holds the necessary Scottish FA qualifications.’
The appointment came after Berwick twice came from 2-0 down in recent games to earn draws against promotion-chasing sides Alloa and Annan.
During his first eight matches in charge Berwick only suffered two defeats, his record being three wins, three draws and two losses, giving him 12 points out of a possible 24.
Little himself had made no secret of his desire to land the job and naturally he was delighted at hearing the news.
“I was originally told by the club a few days earlier than that, so it was a nice Christmas present for me,” he said. “I have always tried to do my best for the club and now that I am manager I will continue to do that.
“The results so far since I took over have been okay, but I think it’s fair to say they could have been better.
“For example, twice we found ourselves 2-0 down but came back to draw, but I think that in both matches we had chances to win the games as well.”
So far Little has earned a reputation as a manager who is not afraid to make changes, both to his starting line-ups and also by way of substitutions during the course of a game.
“It’s just something I have picked up along the way,” he said.
“We need to keep the players fresh, and sometimes the decisions I make might surprise a few people, but I will call it as I see it and if changes need to be made during a game then so be it.”
Little says that now he has the backing of the Board he plans to continue his assault on a place in the end of season play-offs.
“That has been a goal of ours for the past two seasons,”he said, “but as everyone knows it has all gone pear-shaped in the New Year.
“This year I hope things are different and I have a few ideas in mind.”
First thing the new manager will look at is the situation regarding an assistant. Former Berwick player Craig Valentine has been by Little’s side so far, but the boss says he will now have to sit down with ‘Vali’ and see if he wants to continue in the role.
With regards to the squad a new second-choice goalkeeper is a priority.
Central defender Chris McLeod is now due back before the end of January, but full-back Elliott Smith will be sidelined for the next six weeks at least with a bad knee injury.
“I am always looking to strengthen the squad,” said Little, “in fact I have been doing so for the past three weeks, but I will only bring in players if I think they can offer us something different and of course if they come within our budget.”