AFTER over a month of searching and sifting through more than 50 applications, Motherwell have finally found the man to replace Stuart McCall.
Ian Baraclough may be an unknown quantity to many supporters but the former Scunthorpe player has been tasked with changing the ailing fortunes in north Lanarkshire.
The former Sligo Rovers boss guided the Irish club into the Champions League and won three major honours during a two-and-a-half year stint – including their first league title in 35 years in 2012 – before the axe was wielded in the summer.
Whether the 44-year-old, who had been working as a scout at Huddersfield since then, can arrest the Steelmen’s alarming slide towards the relegation mire in the Scottish Premiership remains to be seen.
But his optimism reached no boundaries during his first media address in the post – saying there is no reason why Motherwell cannot win trophies or even challenge Celtic for the title.
He told the club’s website: “I want to win trophies. Why not Motherwell Football Club? Why can’t we win the Premiership?”
“You’ve got to go out with that thinking otherwise you won’t achieve anything. To have days out in the cup are great for fans, but they are important.
“It’s a way into Europe and I’ve been used to that and want more of it, as I’m sure the fans do too.
“Short term my aim is to keep this club in the Premiership. There is no easy way to go about that and it is a situation that hasn’t been at this football club in a few years but it doesn’t scare me.”
Following a thorough selection process in which 58 candidates declared their interest – six of which were interviewed – it is Baraclough who impressed the most and has been given the opportunity to show his credentials.
Terry Butcher – who guided ‘Well to the 2005 Scottish League Cup final – pulled the plug on his consideration for the post earlier this week while former Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels – who resigned from his post at Morton in May – was mentioned.
Dutchmen Mitchell van der Gaag and Rob Maaskant, both former Motherwell players in the 1990s, were also candidates.
Even caretaker boss Kenny Black – McCall’s assistant for four years – was in the pipeline after taking over the reins during a difficult period.
It is still unconfirmed whether he will remain at Fir Park and in what capacity but he will be at the helm for this afternoon’s must-win encounter against bottom club Ross County – his fifth and final match in charge.
Motherwell director Derek Weir told Sky Sports last Saturday before the Celtic defeat that he hoped a new manager would be in place for this weekend – and, by the skin of their teeth, they have kept to their word.
Baraclough will be an observer from the stands as he prepares to inherit a side lacking in confidence and goals – lying 10th in the top-flight and in dire straits after back-to-back second-placed finishes.
The former Glanford Park caretaker manager has his work cut out and has tough shoes to fill following the success of McCall, who resigned at the start of November following a run of five consecutive defeats.
Motherwell have had some famous faces in the managerial hotseat in the past, including former Scotland bosses Alec McLeish and Craig Brown.
Time will tell if Baraclough can allure himself to the Motherwell faithful and prove his place in history by guiding the struggling Steelmen back up the table – where they feel they belong.