Paul Hartley: New Falkirk manager aims for top four and promotion

Paul Hartley
Falkirk will be the third club Paul Hartley has managed

Paul Hartley has targeted a play-off place after being appointed as Falkirk head coach.

The 40-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Scottish Championship club.

"We've had a slow start to the season but our aim and our ambition this year is to try and get in the top four," said Hartley, who will start on Monday.

"It's going to take hard work and the supporters are going to have a team that they can be proud of."

Falkirk had been looking for a replacement for Peter Houston, who was sacked 10 days ago after a poor start to the season.

Hartley, who was interviewed for the Hearts vacancy before Craig Levein was appointed manager, parted with Dundee in April as the club battled against relegation from the Premiership. He had taken the Dens Park side up to the top flight after successive promotions with Alloa Athletic.

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Hartley targets top four with Falkirk

'I know how to get the job done'

"Back into the mad world but really looking forward to it," Hartley told BBC Scotland.

"Where we are just now is not a good position but there's a lot of games, a lot of points to play for.

"I've managed to get three promotions so I know how to get the job done and it's up to me now and the group of players, staff, supporters to work and try and get there. We've been too long in the Championship.

"I'm coming to a great club, great fan-base, a team that's geared up to be in the Premiership."

Houston led Falkirk to the Premiership play-offs twice but lost to Kilmarnock in the 2016 final and to Dundee United in this year's semi-final. A Scottish Cup-winning manager with Dundee United, Houston was a beaten finalist with the Bairns when Inverness Caledonian Thistle won the trophy in 2015.

Falkirk celebrate
Falkirk were among the pre-season favourites for promotion

"Peter did a brilliant job with the play-offs, Scottish Cup final," Hartley said. "He did an absolutely outstanding job.

"I've seen a lot of Falkirk over the last couple of years, I've worked with some of the players so I've got a good group here."

The Bairns are eighth in the second tier, 12 points behind leaders St Mirren and nine points off the play-off places.

Technical director Alex Smith oversaw Falkirk's 1-0 win at Greenock Morton on Saturday and will take the team again for Saturday's Challenge Cup tie at home to Dunfermline Athletic.

Commenting on Hartley's appointment, Falkirk chair Margaret Lang told the club's website: "His passion for football shone through throughout all of the discussions we had and the board and I firmly believe he is the man capable of leading the club forward.

"We have big aspirations and ambitions for the club and in Paul we see someone who shares those and can help us realise our target of reaching the Premiership and most importantly staying there for the long term."

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