In an end to days of speculation, Stephen Robinson has been appointed as the new permanent manager of Motherwell FC on a 14-month contract.
Robinson (42) – sacked by Oldham Athletic in January – emerged as the outstanding candidate from the five prospective bosses interviewed at Fir Park this week and will take the reins until at least the end of next season.
The Northern Irishman has impressed the Motherwell board during a two-game spell as interim gaffer which saw him lead the Steelmen to a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock before coming agonisingly close to getting a draw at Pittodrie last weekend.
Motherwell chief operating officer Alan Burrows said: “Stephen is absolutely delighted to get the job.
“He had a bad experience at Oldham but knows he is well thought of here. He knows the Scottish league, the club and the people inside out and he has good contacts.
“We are more than hopeful he can come in and do a great job.
“Stephen is a super coach who has managed at a very high level.
“He helped take Northern Ireland into the last 16 of the Euros last year and is extremely well respected.
“The interview he gave was phenomenal.
“Stephen’s remit is to build a team the fans can be proud of, have a strong identity, challenge to be in the top six, have good cup runs and hopefully one day win a trophy.”
Third bottom Motherwell are currently involved in a battle to retain their Scottish Premiership status as they are three points ahead of second bottom Hamilton Accies and four clear of bottom club Inverness Caley.
So Robinson’s immediate task is to guide the Steelmen to safety this season.
“The Scottish Premiership is now a difficult league with a lot of big clubs,” Burrows said.
“The main objective is to retain our status in the league.
“And, going into next season, we hope to perform better in the domestic cup competitions.
“Cup fever galvanises support and is healthy financially.”
Robinson has in the past worked as an assistant manager to former Motherwell bosses Ian Baraclough and Mark McGhee. And his effectiveness in that role impressed Burrows and the fellow ’Well directors.
The ’Well chief said that the high quality of Robinson and other candidates had meant that the board had debated “for hours and hours” before reaching a final decision.
And, despite Raith Rovers manager John Hughes being the bookies favourite to land the Motherwell job last night, the Motherwell Times can reveal that Hughes didn’t even apply for the Steelmen gaffer’s post.
Burrows also revealed that 43-year-old Finn Simo Valakari – a former Motherwell player – was one of those interviwed this week and only narrowly missed out on the job.
“Simo was an excellent candidate,” the Motherwell supremo added.
“I spoke to him today and he was very thankful to the club for giving him the opportunity.
“He came very close to getting the job. I explained to Simo the significance of us going all hands to the pump and hitting the ground running.
“He was absolutely understanding about that and only enhanced his reputation. He just fell short.”
Burrows also revealed that Owen Coyle – another name widely linked with the job by bookies – hadn’t even applied for it.