What a brilliant run of form Greenock Morton are on. After a sluggish start, they’ve picked up 16 points out of 18 and won through to the League Cup semi-finals, and with it the club’s first trip to Hampden in over 30 years.
Their boss Jim Duffy has had an impressive coaching career and his experience is allowing a young squad proper as they climb to third in the Ladbrokes Championship table.
The Ton manager and Ladbrokes Championship Manager of the Month for October has been speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes News…
Ladbrokes News: Many Congratulations on your award Jim. You are on an incredible run just now, how do you explain the turnaround in form?
Jim Duffy: I think football is all about gaining confidence and momentum. We had a tricky start to the season but we got a fantastic result, winning 5-0 away to Queen of the South, who were top of the league at that point and we were really depleted by injuries
That result was the catalyst and it gave the players so much confidence and belief. Since then we’ve been on a rich vein of form and hopefully we can keep it going for a bit longer!
LN: What were your targets in the summer and where do you think you can finish come the end of the season?
JD: I never set target, I know a lot of managers and clubs like to but I feel that unless you have huge resources things can change so quickly in football.
I like to assess things as we go and try to get as many points on board as early as you can. If you can do this it allows yourself that little breathing space in case you get injuries or a blip in form.
That’s all I’m looking at just now but come January we might have to re-assess things and see where we are when the transfer window opens.
LN: You have a very young squad at Morton, do you enjoy working with raw impressionable players?
JD: Yes, it’s been something I have always been very comfortable with. Every club I have been at I have tried to bring through younger players and develop their talent.
The very early days at Dundee i brought through the likes of Neil McCann and Morten Wieghorst, all the way down to Chelsea with John Terry. I’ve always liked to get young boys onto the footballing ladder and it keeps me young at heart with their enthusiasm and energy.
It’s not just about the fact they are young though, they need to be good enough, but generally speaking the young boys here have the right attitude and that’s a good starting point to have.
LN: There has been a lot of buzz around your young forward Jai Quitongo, how pleased are you with his progress?
JD: Yeah, he’s come out of nowhere this season really, he’s been a real find for us. He got his first international call-up with the Scotland U-21’s last week and we’re delighted for him.
He’s fitted in well and we have a lot of boys a similar age in the squad. It’s actually easier some times when you have people around you that you have a lot in common and you mix with socially.
He’s still a bit of a raw talent but he’s got great talent. It’s like any young player, if he works hard and focusses he might just have a very bright future ahead of him.
LN: How did it feel leading your Morton side out at Hampden Park?
JD: It was a great day for the players but I have to be honest with you, for myself I didn’t think too much of it, I don’t mean to be arrogant but I’ve been there a couple of times. Obviously for the club it was great having been away for so long and I don’t think any of my players had played at that level before.
To go to Hampden against Aberdeen, one of the top sides in Scotland, and play as well as we did is terrific. If we had gone and not done ourselves justice it would have been really frustrating, but other thatn the first 10 minutes, I think we handled the game very well and we were a little unfortunate not to take the game to extra-time.
LN: You took charge at Falkirk when you were 29, were you always destined to go into management?
JD: No, I dont think so. I had a bad injury and sometimes that happens in the game, and it kind of forces your hand a little. I’d have loved to have played a little longer but it was not to be.
I was lucky to be offered the post as Falkirk and it was a great grounding for me. I’m sure I made a few mistakes back there as any young manager would do and I’m still making them now. It was a fantastic opportunity for me and it gave me a taste of it and luckily enough I am still here now and enjoying every minute of it.
LN: Finally, you have a big game against Dundee United at the weekend, are you looking forward to the challenge?
JD: Yes, it’s a real tough challenge for us. I think Dundee United and Hibs have the resources and the squad to be challenging for the title and I think those two will fight it out right till the end.
From our point of view we have already played them twice, drawing once, and on our day we can compete with anyone. We like to try and match it with the best in this division and Dundee United are certainly one of those teams.
They are in good form, as are we, so it should be a really competitive match. We are really looking forward to it and the players are relishing.
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