Little adjusting to life as manager as he prepares for his first season

Berwick Rangers assistant manager Robbie Horn with kids training at Old Shielfield on Saturday.
Berwick Rangers assistant manager Robbie Horn with kids training at Old Shielfield on Saturday.

Berwick manager Ian Little is relishing his first full season in charge at Shielfield - but says he is still on a massive learning curve.

As he prepares for his first campaign in the managerial hot seat with The Borderers he says he is still coming to terms with the difference between life as a player and a manager.

Kids train with Berwick Rangers at Old Shielfield on Saturday. Berwick players Lee Currie and Chris Townsley with eleven yr old Callum MacKenzie and ten yr old Robert Matthews.

Kids train with Berwick Rangers at Old Shielfield on Saturday. Berwick players Lee Currie and Chris Townsley with eleven yr old Callum MacKenzie and ten yr old Robert Matthews.

“it’s hard sometimes to differentiate between the two roles,” he said.

“Sometimes I still think of myself as a player, but then I realise I am the manager and things have to be done differently. It’s all about learning where to draw the line.”

Little was talking at Shielfield on Saturday as he brought his players to town for a pre-season training session. This was followed by coaching for youngsters in the afternoon which attracted over a hundred.

Initially the training and the coaching was to have taken place at Ivinson, but because of the recent wet weather it was switched to Old Shielfield.

“We always train in Edinburgh so we thought it would be a nice touch to bring the players down to Berwick,” said Little.

“The coaching was also something new, and I was really surprised at how many kids turned up. It was a fantastic response.”

All those who turned up were offered a free junior season ticket for games at Berwick, and a club spokesman said afterwards they had handed out 92.

“There were a few who didn’t take the tickets so I suppose there must have been over a hundred here which exceeded all our expectations.”

The morning training attracted 17 first team squad players and the majority admitted they found it hard going.

It was only the club’s third session of the summer, but as these had all been within a five day period it was obvious some found it more difficult than others.”

Goalkeeper Youssef Bejaoui, who has joined the club after a loan spell from Cowdenbeath towards the end of last season, said it was enjoyable, but nonetheless very hard work.

“The ‘Eagle,’ (Ian McCaldon) has been putting me through my paces,” he said.

“He has been working my hard but at this time of the year that is what I need.”

Bejaoui, who says he enjoyed his loan spell last season, said he was tempted back as a result of the good working relationship he has with Little and his assistant Robbie Horn.

“They are a young management team and have some good, fresh ideas,” he said.

“They were keen for me to come back and I was happy to do so because I like it here at the club.

“We have the basis of a good, solid side. There are some young players in the squad who are eager to make their mark and I think we have the makings of a good side.”

McCaldon, who missed the whole of last season with a slipped disc in his back, is back in training, but says he is only number two to Bejaoui.

“Have you seen the size of him?” he asked.

“Youssef is the number one, I am number two, so for the time being I am happy to help out with the coaching.

“I will do what I can to help Youssef, and I hope he has a good season, but if I am called upon at any time I hope to be ready.”

Little said he was keen to bring the players to Berwick for a coaching session in the wake of the news that the club had forged new links with Salvesen in Edinburgh, which would mean all three teams (firsts, reserves and U19s) training regularly as Forresters in the capital.

“I think that is a good move for us as it will mean I will be able to see all three squads on a regular basis and assess players’ progress. It will mean I have a much bigger pool of players to choose from.

“But I have been at Berwick long enough now to know how important the club and the team is to the town, that’s why today has been so important.

“It’s unbelievable that so many youngsters have turned up for the coaching, it just shows what it means to them.

“As a player public relation exercises like this didn’t really interest me, but now I am manager I am beginning to realise how important they are.

“In an ideal world I would like to lift the Forresters set-up and move it down to Berwick, but that still wouldn’t get away from the geographical differences.

“Most of our players come from Edinburgh and the central belt, so it makes sense we train up there as it does away with the need for travelling.

“With all the kids turning up it shows there is an interest in the club locally and if I had the time I would like to look into that further.

“But this is my first job in management and I am still learning the ropes.

“At the moment I already have three teams to look after and my priority has to be the first team, as I know that is where I will be judged.

“I would like to foster better relationships with the youth clubs down here, but at the moment I probably have enough on my plate. In a few years time, if I’m still here, then maybe, but for the time being all my efforts have to go into the job I already have.

“I need to get that right first before taking on any extra work.”