Shire boss looks to the future

09-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. OCHILVIEW. East Stirlingshire v Cowdenbeath. Ramsdens Cup quarter final. John Coughlin.
09-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. OCHILVIEW. East Stirlingshire v Cowdenbeath. Ramsdens Cup quarter final. John Coughlin.
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John Coughlin hopes 2013 will be good for his side and has added two new faces to his first team squad.

The Shire boss is adamant his team has made significant strides in the past 12 months and now wants to see that reflected in results and league placings in the year ahead.

Coughlin’s seasonal thoughts come at a time when Shire are still struggling to get away from the bottom of the Third Division, much the same position as this time last year.

However, he maintains that his current crop of players are still capable of better and he wants them to prove to him, and everyone else, that they can make 2013 a year that sets the club on the road to continual improvement.

“I think that we are in a better position now than was the case twelve months ago,” he said. “When you look at the league table it may not show it all that much, but there is no doubt we have a better crop off players now compared to then.

“That said, though, everyone knew that any steps we were going to take would have to be small ones. The club is still not flush compared to other sides in the league and even though everyone has worked hard to put us on the right financial footing, that was never going to be reflected in overnight success.”

Coughlin is one football manager who understands and supports his directors’ policy of making the organisation sustainable rather than trying to buy success and says the progress he is planning for will be at a pace the Shire can afford.

“We had one season at rock bottom while the club tried to find a way to make it viable again. Everyone was honest about that and last year we knew it would be a struggle to finish anywhere other than bottom of the league.

“This year, although we have moved on, it is unrealistic to expect us to have transformed ourselves from a bottom of the league team into contenders. Progress will have to be measured but we have to show to people that we are making it and the easiest way to do that is though results.”

He still has faith that his current crop of players is not only better than last season’s but that they are capable of better form than they have been showing of late.

Shire may still be struggling to escape the clutches of a last place finish one year on, but he says this bunch of players are more likely to achieve the aim of progressing up the league ladder.

“If I am being truthful I would have hoped our league record this season would have been better than has been the case,” he says. “I am disappointed that we have not made a little bit more progress. However, I still believe that the players we brought in over the summer are better than we had last season, and the chances are higher that we will improve before the end of the season.”

One sign that Shire are heading in the right direction is Coughlin’s ability to bring in players during the transfer window. Giant centre-half Raymond Buchanan has joined the club on an 18 month contract from junior side Whitletts Victoria, while former star Andy Stirling has signed a short-term deal.

“Last year the chances of being able to go out and sign players was just fantasy,” he said. “But through a lot of hard work we are now in a position to bring in people who we are confident will make us better. That is another big step in trying to slowly change the club’s fortunes.”

Shire head to Berwick Rangers this weekend knowing that they will have to start finding victories pretty soon or the rest of the league will start moving away from them.

Coughlin is not hiding his disappointment at the hand the last couple of months of 2012 have dealt the club, and says it is now up to everyone at the club to respond.

“We have been losing games that we have deserved at least a draw from and drawing matches that we really should have won,” he said. “We need to try and put that right and I am confident that we can do just that. But it needs to happen soon and players need to start showing some form to take us where we want to go.”

Ochilview stablemates Stenhousemuir have also found themselves pulled towards the bottom after their poor run of form continued with defeat to both Queen of the South and Alloa.

They have a chance to make amends when they face Forfar at home, knowing a win would lift them above their opponent in the table.