Gibson looks to rekindle career with Falkirk after misery at Saints

Willie Gibson is delighted to be at Bairns following time at Crawley and St Johnstone
Willie Gibson is delighted to be at Bairns following time at Crawley and St Johnstone

Willie Gibson says a brief chat with Steven Pressley has given him the will to win back his career.

The midfielder signed for Bairns last Thursday after winning over Falkirk’s manager by his performances training at Stirling University - with St Johnstone.

And that’s all the winger-cum-midfielder was doing with Saints after being frozen out by Perth boss Steve Lomas.

But by continuing to apply himself throughout the week - despite knowing there was more chance of Shergar winning the Grand National than him starring for Saints - he caught Steven Pressley’s eye.

That paved the way for a deadline day discussion which Gibson hopes has rekindled his career.

“I was delighted to be able to stay in Scotland near my two kids and with my wife,” Gibson told The Falkirk Herald. “We are expecting our first child together next month so its important to be settled.

“But the most important thing for me is to find a manager who believed in me, and my ability.

“Derek McInnes did, but he’s gone, so it was important to find someone who would give me a chance, and a short chat with the manager made up my mind.

“He told me he had seen me while I’d been up at Stirling with St Johnstone and liked the way I trained - but that’s all I was doing. It was horrible.”

Gibson began the season a Crawley Town player, but moved to Perth on-loan after missing his family back in Scotland. But Saints boss Derek McInnes moved south two months after Gibson’s arrival to be replaced by Steve Lomas, who used Gibson scarcely.

“I was doing what I had to during the week knowing I wasn’t playing on the Saturday - and that kills you as a footballer.

“It took all the enjoyment out of football for me. Before Christmas I was counting down the days until I could go, even eight weeks away from the end of my loan - I knew I wouldn’t feature and I didn’t feel it was fair.

“Saints went through a bad time with injuries, and you know your times’ up when the manager has an injury at right mid but moves the right back into right midfield and re-shuffles the defence.

“Then it was hammered home when that didn’t work and a striker was moved there. I was a ready made replacement - a straight swap - so when that happened, I knew time was up. I wasn’t even getting a look in for bounce games.

“It’s all in the past now though. Sometimes things don’t work out - and that’s an understatement for my time at St Johnstone.”

His performances on the Stirling training ground persuaded Steven Pressley to swoop, and move the wide player into a central position - just as what worked so successfully with Kallum Higginbotham.

Steven Pressley said: Gibson added: “When the manager had seen me at Stirling he liked how I took the ball in and saw me in a central position.

“I’ve only played there once - but I can’t wait. I love the idea of it.

“When you’re out wide. you can get frustrated if the ball isn’t coming your way often enough but in the middle you’re in amongst it and making things happen and that’s what I’m looking to do.

“The manager explained that was where he saw me when we had a chat last week. He had accepted a bid for Kallum Higginbotham and told me he saw me as a replacement.

“I had gone in with an open mind - but I didn’t expect anything other than a chat. I left having made a gentleman’s agreement to sign when, and if, Higgy’s deal went through.

“It says a lot that I went in for a chat and came out having agreed a move and that was all from the confidence the manager seemed to have in me.”

First though, there’s a long road to fitness for Gibson given his lack of playing time.

He’s accumulated just 65 minutes competitive action since McInnes left St Johnstone in mid-October.

He’s been doing extra fitness work with Stevie Crawford and Neil Macfarlane - who doubles as Gibson’s coach and landlord at a house in Dumfries.

“I know both Neil and Craw and from what I’ve seen of the guys there’s a lot of talent in the squad.

Training is to a high tempo and I’ve enjoyed it all.

“No-one likes running, but I know it has to be done to get the benefit and I’ve been working hard to get back to fitness given how little I’ve played over the last few months.

“Although it has been a difficult time, never once has my belief in myself fallen.

“I needed a manager who believed in me and even from our chat before I agreed to join Falkirk, I felt that belief from the manager here.

“When I was playing for Dunfermline regularly and getting goals my confidence was up - but you lose a wee bit when you’re out the team.

“One thing I’ve never lost is faith in my own ability. Some folk agree on me, some disagree - they’re entitled to their opinion, but that faith I have in my own ability will never go away, no matter what happens.

“I believe I can play football to a high level, and though it’s a short term deal here, I hope that’s all it takes to prove that I am capable.

“People say Ross County have won this league yet they’ve got to play us again, and win their games in hand - that’s up to them.

“This club is going through a good period and I hope to help it get even better and play a big part in continuing it.”