MONTROSE boss Stuart Garden is relishing his first season as manager.
While there have been some ups and downs for the Gable Endies, Garden feels that on the whole the team are making good improvement. He said: “It’s been an enjoyable start to the season with the first nine or 10 league games.
“At times we lack consistency but there are definite signs of improvement. The players are really starting to gel now even though we brought in about seven or eight players over the summer.
“In the last six league games we’ve won three and drawn once and the only two losses were against Elgin and Rangers away.”
Garden said that he has been pleased with many of his team’s performances this season so far. However, he did say that the win over Cowdenbeath in the Communities League cup and the first half performance against Rangers at Ibrox were particular highlights.
The manager does feel that the team let themselves down with their short cup runs, especially the defeat to Edinburgh City in the second round of the Scottish Cup. He said: “Obviously we would have liked to go through to the next round but we had a really bad day against Edinburgh City and we did not deserve to win after that performance.”
He added: “There has been a great improvement in training since then though. The coaching staff have noticed that the players attitude has been great. The players know they let everyone down with the result against Edinburgh City, they let the club down, the fans down and themselves down but they have been doing really well since then.”
With Montrose doing better this season than they have done for the past few years, Garden is sure attitude has a big part to play. He said: “I think we need to be aiming for the play-offs at least. The players know that is their target for the season and I think now they are starting to believe in themselves where they didn’t before.
“Their confidence has improved a lot. Montrose have been at the bottom of the table for the past four or five years now and losing does become a habit.”
Garden added that he thinks some of the new faces added to the squad over the summer have done much to boost morale, “I made a point of bringing in boys with a positive attitude.
“Craig McLeish, Ricky McIntosh, David Gray ... are all really positive and also bring in a lot of experience.”
The manager is also pleased with the competition for places among the side, which was absent beforehand with a depleted squad. He said: “There was not a lot of competition for places at the start of the season.” Citing goalkeepers Sandy Wood and David Crawford, Garden is delighted with the quality that he has for the position. He said: “There is a battle between them for the position which is a good thing. David came in while Sandy was injured and did a good job but was dropped after the Elgin defeat. He knows himself that he didn’t perform that well.
“Then Sandy came back in against Stirling Albion and performed well but got sent off needlessly against Elgin at home.
“But I know Sandy just goes into it wholehearted and gives it 100 per cent so I can’t fault him for that.
“Now it is up to both of them to show me what they can do.”
Garden also praised Leighton McIntosh who he brought into the side when Martin Boyle left for Dundee. He said: “I’ve seen Leighton play for a few years now and I know he can get goals and finish well.”
However, the manager knows that goals have never been a problem for his side. He said: “We have goals coming from other parts of the team. Paul Watson, Lloyd Young and David Gray have all had a few goals each and Jamie Winter is now back, he was definitely missed.”
Montrose are now looking ahead to this weekend’s away day to Clyde where Garden knows they face a tough challenge. “We will go through knowing it is going to be a hard game, Jim Duffy always has a well organised side. But we will play to the best of our abilities.”