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Q&A: GRAHAM ALEXANDER

11 May 2016

We recently sat down with Iron manager Graham Alexander, who answered your questions sent in for our matchday programme.

@1500club, via Twitter: 24 years on, how do you think that penalty miss at Wembley shaped your career?
GA:
“It had a massive bearing on it I think. It was my first full season as a regular first team player and I was a substitute on the day. As a 19-year-old, I went into the game desperate for promotion and I managed to get on the pitch with Jason White, who was my best mate at the club at the time. Unfortunately, we both missed our penalties at Wembley. Before, I had no thoughts about not scoring, I was just excited about potentially scoring at Wembley after I scored in the first-ever penalty shoot-out against Rotherham United earlier in the season. I was just full of confidence and the ‘keeper made a save low to his right and my world fell apart. We lost the final, I was in tears and I remember Bill Green with his arm around me and the opposition manager Billy Ayre telling me that it would make me stronger. I can still remember those words now. I’m well-known for my penalties and it probably stemmed from that. I wanted to take as many penalties as I could to prove to myself I could do it. It’s football, but it was the biggest disappointment I’d had in football up to that day.”

Izzy Sharpe, via email: Away from football management, how do you like to relax?
GA:
“I’ve only got football, my family and friends that I care about really. I haven’t got loads of hobbies – I don’t play golf, I don’t gamble, so I’m probably a boring sod. When I’m not working, I’m with my family or my friends. I’ve been with my wife since I came here at 16 and she’s stuck with me, we’ve got three kids and I just spend as much time with them as possible.”

@Bonnett86, via Twitter: What’s the Kevin van Veen situation?
GA:
“He will be returning in the summer as he’s obviously out on loan at the minute. I spoke to him on the phone a couple of weeks ago to touch base with him and to introduce myself. I told him I’m looking forward to meeting him in the summer. It’s a clean slate for him and he will know that this year hasn’t gone as well as he envisaged. He comes back to play in front of a fresh pair of eyes and he will have to show me what he can do.”

@ALIIAN92, via Twitter: As a young footballer, who was your role model and why?
GA:
“I was a big Coventry City supporter when I was a kid but the biggest player I wanted to be was Graham Souness. He was the captain of Liverpool and Scotland and it was just the way he played; he could do everything. He was just the boss, the main man and I was in awe watching him. He was the one I looked up to.”

John Critchley, via email: What was the highlight of your career?
GA:
“I had several highlights. Making my debut for Scunthorpe was massive because my target was one league game professionally so I could always say I was a professional footballer no matter what. After that it would be winning my league title with Preston North End, as it was the first thing that I won in professional football. Making my debut at 30 for Scotland was unbelievable. It was something that I’d dreamed of as a younger player but, at that age, I thought it was beyond me. As well as that, I’d have to say winning the play-offs with Burnley to get to the Premier League after losing my previous six. I’ve had numerous moments throughout my career that I couldn’t really highlight because they’re special to me in different ways.”

John Wilkinson, via email: What kind of music do you like, what is your favourite album of all-time?
GA:
“I quite like rock bands and aggressive music. I’ve always been into that. Going back to my teenage years, it was the Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets. Ian Brown, the lead singer of the Stone Roses, was someone who I looked up to and I actually got to meet him by chance later in my career on a night out in London. I had a chat with him for an hour and that was brilliant. The first Stone Roses album for me is timeless and every single song on it is brilliant and I’ve been forever playing it for the last 20-odd years. That sort of music suited my personality and character.”

@thumpermaxie, via Twitter: Graham, since arriving have you decided the areas we need to recruit in? Thought of any names and will you look to recruit early?
GA:
“We’re looking to improve the squad and we feel we have a good squad. We will have to look hard to get better players. Recruitment doesn’t begin and end in one spot; it is constant. We’ve got certain ideas, but I would never speak about players that belong to other clubs. It’s quite exciting.”

Jemma Smith, via email: Have any plans been made for pre-season yet in terms of a tour or friendlies?
GA:
“We can’t confirm anything yet, but we’ve been working on that in the last week or two. We’re trying to get a tour sorted and pre-season friendlies. We’ve got a couple of clubs pencilled in and where we are likely to be going. As soon as we have things confirmed, we will let everyone know as it’s important to let everyone know what is going on behind the scenes.”

Kane McGowan, via email: If we finish up in the play-offs, could Gary McSheffrey have a part to play?
GA:
“He could have, but unfortunately he’s now injured. I spoke to Gary the day I came in and the day he went to Doncaster. After 28 days of his loan, we could have called him back and he could have been involved in our games. Unfortunately he got injured last week, so he will be out for the foreseeable future.”

Matthew Wrighton, via Facebook: What have you made of the supporters since returning to Scunthorpe?
GA:
“They’ve been brilliant. I was here for seven years and then I was away for 20 years and fortunately for me I’ve been remembered. I had a great response from the crowd at Barnsley which really got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. The reception a few days later at home to Swindon was superb. I’ve had letters and cards wishing me all the best and they’re fully behind me and the players. Hopefully we’ve given them something to cling onto.  We’re looking to push the club forward as much as we can and we need the supporters with us.”

ben.craigie.62.12, via Instagram: How does it feel to be back at Scunthorpe?
GA:
“It was so exciting driving over here. Sixteen is such an impressionable age and that change in my life from a schoolboy into a seasoned professional all happened here. Everything seemed so familiar. Glanford Park was brand new when I arrived and I’ve cleaned most of it, and played head tennis most of the way around it! It’s the people as much as anything, they’re really welcoming, supportive and eager for you to do well.”

Danny Lind, via email: Who's the most motivated player in the squad? How do you keep the squad motivated on a weekly basis?
GA:
“I see a lot of motivated players in there, young and old. I found that I became more motivated the older I got. Different players have different motivations and it’s demotivated people who I cannot get on with. The players are desperate to do well. We have to tap into their inner self week-in, week-out. I describe it as being a ten-year-old every day – you want to go outside and play football with your mates and that’s what this career is.”

_.deji_witty_banter._, via Instagram: What made you decide to come back to Scunthorpe?
GA:
“At the time, I was out of work, but I only played for four clubs so I class myself as quite a loyal player. I have an affinity with Scunthorpe that takes me right back to the start, so as soon as the job become available I applied on the same day. I can see the ambition here, and from speaking to Jim Rodwell and the Chairman. We all want to compete and win and here I feel I’ve got a great chance of being a part of something like that.”

Tony Bluff, via email: What was the best goal you remember scoring for Scunthorpe?
GA:
“Back in the day, I used to score some spectacular goals from long distance. The one that sticks out for me was the best goal in my career, and it was at Deepdale in October 1994. We went there and we had a red away kit at the time, with flecks on it. We forgot to pack the tops so we had to borrow Preston’s. We had red shorts, red socks and a yellow, blue and white top and it was absolutely hideous. We withstood a lot of pressure and I broke past the half way line and decided to have a pop 40 yards from goal. It went right in the top corner, with my left foot. We won 1-0 and it was just a brilliant feeling.”

_jackmason_, via Instagram: How did you feel when offered the job?
GA:
“I spoke and met with the Chairman and I expected it to be a formal interview, but we ended up speaking for about four hours about football, life and it seemed so natural. At the end, he told me he wanted me to come in as manager. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, but so exciting.”

Jamie Thompson, via email: What would be your last supper?
GA:
“Tough question! I like my food. My wife is a great cook as well. It would be something really simple like pizza, steak or my wife’s paella. That’s brilliant. I can eat and I’ve always been like that. I eat pretty much most things.”

dom_gouldthorpe, via Instagram: What are your aspirations for the future of the club for next season and then beyond that?
GA:
“Success and improvement. We want a team that matches the profile of the club and it’s what we do on the grass. We want to win as many matches as possible and then when I eventually leave the club, whenever that may be, for the club to be in a better place than it was when I came in. That in essence is a manager’s job.”

Phil Smith, via email: Who was the toughest opponent of your playing career?
GA:
“I remember making my debut here at right-back in the Freight Rover Trophy. I was about eight stone then and I was up against Wayne Allison; aka ‘the Chief’. He was about 14 stone and 6ft 2in. Probably out of my whole career, it would be Arjen Robben for Scotland against Holland. He was an absolute nightmare. He was constantly on the move and it was 75 minutes of complete focus. I hardly played on the ball myself that night, it was all about stopping him.”

@1500club, via Twitter: How many of those merino knits do you own gaffer, any tips on wash temperatures?
GA:
“I can’t give you any tips about washing clothes, cooking or any domestic stuff. I’ve probably got between eight and ten – a couple of round necks, a couple of v-necks. They’re warm, comfortable and I like them. All Saints is my shop. It has been noted before! When I first got the job at Fleetwood, I wore tracksuits, boots, took all the warm-up and I was really hands on. I was that passionate, I was virtually on the pitch most of the time and I felt I had to take a step back to do my job properly and I felt going in my clothes and dressing like a manager would give me that mind set.”

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