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    Milestone on Saturday 

    Thursday, November 14, 2013 6:47:44 PM
    Alloa Athletic manager Paul Hartley on Saturday will celebrate his 100th competitive game in charge of "The Wasps" having taking charge at Recreation Park on 18th May, 2011- the team having just been relegated to the Third Division and having no signed players on the books, apart from young Ross Philp, who himself was sidelined after  career changing injury. This Saturday against Raith Rovers, manager Paul Hartley celebrates his 100th competitive game in charge of Alloa. To mark this milestone it is only fitting to look back on what has been a hugely successful first century of games in Hartley's highly promising managerial career.
    Paul's arrival at the Recs came days after Alloa's relegation to the bottom tier of the senior game for the first time in 15 years. Chairman Mike Mulraney was keen to give the club a fresh impetus and Hartley, who retired from playing only a week previously, fitted the bill. It was therefore a bold move by both parties and one which caused a bit of a stir in wider football circles. Many commentators were surprised that Hartley was prepared to 'cut his teeth' in the lower echelons of the Scottish game.
    Manager of the Month September, 2011
    It was undoubtedly a challenging environment for Hartley to begin his first steps in football management. He assembled an entirely new team (barring the injured Ross Philp) in eight weeks, after making the Recs his second home by putting in endless hours at the club to get things precisely how he wanted them. He assembled a squad which contained a mix of youth and experience, picking up some youngsters he had known from his times at Celtic and Aberdeen that hadn't broken through at SPL level. His reputation helped attract a quality of player well above the standard of the Third Division, such as the experienced Darren Young from First Division Morton and young Ryan McCord, who the previous season had excelled on loan with Second Division Airdrie United. A number of the players have since explained that their decision to join the club was largely down to Hartley himself.
    Just as importantly, Hartley has surrounded himself with a strong backroom team. The roles that, for example, assistant Paddy Connolly, physiotherapist Niam Mohammed and fitness coach Tam Ritchie (to name but three of the team) have played in the last 100 games should not be overlooked either, with each adding significant value in their own ways. Hence, many congratulations should also be offered to them for today reaching their century of games with the Wasps as well! 
    Manager of Month January, 2012
    As soon as the season got underway it was clear for Alloa fans that some exciting times lay ahead. The team inevitably took a little while to settle, but Hartley's philosophies were easy to see from day one. A style of football which concentrates on keeping the ball, with a set of players working relentlessly for one another at a constantly high tempo, are all key ingredients in the Hartley style of play. The results are easy and pleasing on the eye, and in no way typical of play often seen in the lower divisions of the Scottish game. It is clear that Hartley has brought fresh ideas to the club and the players have fully bought into these ways of working. This extends off the pitch as well as on it, and at half time with the various exercised undertaken prior to play resuming.
    The hard work has so far paid off handsomely, with Hartley's first season culminating in clinching the Third Division Championship by 14 clear points, after winning 23 games.  It was a wonderful achievement and Paul rightly received many plaudits.
    Last season he retained the nucleus of the title winning squad, supplementing it with quality additions. The promotion bounce continued, with the high standards and consistency from the first season continuing. In his after-match interviews he often remarks that he cannot fault his players and knows exactly what he is going to get from them. That trust works both ways, with the players winning and never-say-die attitudes built up over time thanks to Hartley's coaching. Last season the Wasps were largely in second place in the table, meaning for many months Hartley knew that the play-offs would decide whether or not Alloa would achieve successive promotions. When the pressure was on, Hartley and his men performed with the type of ruthlessness rarely seen by the black and gold of Alloa. Brechin were seen off thanks largely to a tactical battle won by Hartley in the first leg. Then came Dunfermline and again Hartley got the tactics spot on. His players showed tremendous composure during the two games to make the promotion an almost surreal experience, as the conviction of the Alloa win meaning nobody could begrudge that the club didn't deserve it.
    This season the target is altogether different, that being Championship survival. Hartley himself has gone on record as saying that if this is achieved it would eclipse the successive promotions in his eyes. Well, so far, the Wasps have surpassed many people's expectations, but there is still a long way to go. Teams are increasingly doing their homework on Hartley's style of play, which in itself a compliment to him. That means there are obvious challenges ahead, but I am sure Hartley has plans A, B, C, D and probably E, F, G and H etc etc in mind already! There have of course been a few setbacks along the way. Away hammerings at Elgin and Berwick, and most notably in the cup at Rangers, have all been part of the learning experience for Hartley. As have a couple of run-ins with officials, leading to touchline bans. 
    Manager & Young Player of Month February 2012 
    A few other things worthy of mention includes the obvious eye for a player Paul possesses. To still have eight of the original players signed in the Summer of 2011 at the club, despite the jump of two divisions, is testament to this and the way Hartley has got the most out of them. Furthermore, Hartley has been open to allowing youth it's chance, with numerous members of the ever expanding youth academy being involved in the first team. Hartley's use of the loan market has also been profitably, none more so than Stevie May's 19 goals from 22 games in 2011/2.
    It is inevitable that sooner, rather than later, Hartley will make a deserved move to a full-time club. Alloa supporters have been bracing themselves for such an eventuality for well over a year now, with Hartley immediately touted by the press once a top level Scottish job becomes available. Given that Hartley played for half the Premiership clubs during his career this is hardly surprising! Paul himself is wily enough to know that his next move has to be the right one, as the last thing he will want to do is to join an unstable club and be out of a job in six months time, as can easily be the case in the game today. Therefore I am sure that Hartley is perfectly contented to bide his time until a job he cannot refuse comes calling, with Alloa benefiting enormously in the meantime. He is serving his managerial apprenticeship with the Wasps with distinction, which will stand him in good stead in his future roles where the scrutiny on managers after one or two bad results is only increasing. So, it is 100 not out for Hartley and his backroom team – and what a fine century it has been. 
     
    Paul Hartley record for Alloa Athletic (up to 10th Nov, 2013)
    Season 2011/12    P    W    D     L     Gf      Ga
    League                 36    23    8     5      70      39
    Ramsden Cup       1      0     0     1        2       2
    League Cup          1      0     0     1        0       3
    Scottish Cup         2      0     1     1        2       4
    Total                     40    23   9     8       74     48
     
    Season 2012/13     P     W    D    L      Gf     Ga
    League                  40     22    7    11     69      39
    Ramsden Cup        1       0     0     1       1        1
    League Cup           1       0     0     1       2        5
    Scottish Cup          1       0     0     1       0        7
    Total                      43     22   7     14    72      52
     
    Season 2013/14     P      W    D    L     Gf     Ga
    League                  12      5      2     5      14     14
    Ramsden Cup        1       0      0     1        0      1
    League Cup           2       1      0     1        2      0
    Scottish Cup          1       1      0     0        3      0
    Total                      16     7      2     7       19    15
     
    Complete Total (99 games up to 10th Nov, 2013)
                                  P        W     D     L     Gf     Ga
    League                 88       50     17    21    153    92
    Ramsden Cup      3         0       0      3       3       4
    League Cup          4         1       0     3       4        8
    Scottish Cup         4         1       1     2       5       11
     
    Full Total             99       52      18    29   165   115
     



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