Paul Hartley has set his sights on the Premiership – and he’s “ready to go” and kickstart Falkirk’s season.
The new Falkirk boss met the media tonight after signing on as a replacement for Peter Houston, and said the Bairns should be top four in the Championship, minimum, and need to establish a winning habit.
He’ll watch Saturday’s match with Dunfermline from the stand, with interim bosses Alex Smith and Michael McArdle, assisted by Lee Miller and Mark Kerr, taking the team.
But Hartley will begin work with the squad on Monday and said: “I know some of the players, I’ve not seen a lot of them this season but I’ve come up against them a few times over the years and watched a few games. Its a squad that has good quality and we need to find that winning habit.
“We’ll be stressing that to them on Monday, I’ll be there Saturday to watch.
“We have a good group here, so let’s get ready and get our season started now, because I’m ready to go.”
Margaret Laing and Alex Smith joined the 40-year-old at the top table in the Falkirk Stadium’s warm-up room for the hastily arranged press conference, and the confidence they’ve shown in handing the team over to Hartley, exudes from the new man too.
“I know how to get the job done. But we have to get ourselves in a position where we can try to challenge. It’s been a slow start to the season but there’s a lot of games left and a lot of points to play for.
“The challenge now is to get as many points as we can. The minimum is the top four.
“It’s a great challenge for us. I’m delighted to be back in and coming to a really really good club. A club we want to progress and that has progressed in the last few years with the play-offs and cup final – but we want to try get over that final hurdle now.
“We know where we want to be and where I want to take the club and hopefully take that step together.
“There’s been a good start with the win at the weekend and it gives players a little bit of confidence. Maybe it was dented a bit and if you’re losing games the confidence can suffer throughout the club and the players, it can become a little fragile.
“The win was important but the big thing was the clean sheet, and that’s something we need to build more of.
“We’ll start work on the training ground on Monday and getting into it working hard. We’ll be working really hard. That’s one thing you’ll get.
“You need a manager to be devoted to the club and working really hard to achieve success.”
Hartley knows what it takes having steered Alloa to a double promotion, and then Dundee into thetop flight, at Falkirk’s expense, three years ago.
He paid tribute to Alex Smith, the set-up at Falkirk and the synthetic surface at Westfield.
Hartley added: “Alex is someone I really respect and has done a lot in the game. He’s someone I’ll be speaking to day-to-day with his great experience and he’s been there, seen it, done it.
“He’s a tremendous man, I have a lot of respect for him and we’ve had a great football chat, about the game, the players, the team and what’s gone wrong this season.
“The Academy was one of the key things for me. Ive looked over the years at the players they’ve produced and gone on to the Premiership in Engalnd and hopefully we keep producing those players.
“We want to try to keep the club progressing in the right direction, but we need to be in the Premier League – that’s where the club need to be.
“The facilities are great here. It’s the best synthetic surface out there in Scotland. It’s one players enjoy playing on in terms of the astroturf.
“Te facilities here, the structure here, good staff, good board, a really great fanbase in Championship terms and it should be in the Premier League.
“Everything’s geared up and it’s about getting over that final hurdle.”
Hartley joins the Bairns on a two and a half year contract.