ANDY GRAHAM remarked that it was a “no-brainer” to accept the offer to become Alloa Athletic’s next manager.

The veteran defender took the reins of the club on Wednesday evening, replacing Brian Rice as he departed for Livingston.

He sat down with Advertiser Sport to discuss his new role, stating he felt “proud” to have taken up the position.

“It feels really good,” Graham said. “It’s been a whirlwind couple of days. I’ve not hidden the fact that it’s something I wanted to go into when I finished playing.

“I’m proud that the club are putting their faith in me and I’m looking forward to hopefully repaying that faith in the days to come.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision to make, the biggest decision I had to make was accepting that I won’t play anymore.

“Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love football, even at 40 years old, I love training at night and getting the ball out.

“That was the hardest part but accepting the actual opportunity for me was a no-brainer. For Alloa to be willing to offer me the job, it’s a great opportunity for me.

“I’m not naïve enough to think there won’t be any bumps in the road or difficulties coming my way but I’ll approach it the exact same way I approached a game as a football player: I’ll work as hard as I absolutely can and see what the outcome is.”

Graham will continue to be registered as a player alongside his position as the manager but insists this will only be a factor if the squad becomes injury hit later down the line.

He continued: “I’ll still be registered as a player but I’ll only play in extreme circumstances.

“I will only play if I’m having to ask Ally Roy or Conor Sammon to be playing centre half, I’m not going to unregister myself.

“I’ll be predominantly focusing on the management side of things and I’ll dip in and out of training here and there, make sure I stay fit but that’s not the priority.”

Graham comes into the job carrying a wealth of experience as a player, leaving an illustrious playing career that saw him perform for Stirling Albion, Hamilton, Greenock Morton, Dumbarton and Ayr before joining the Wasps in 2016.

In that time, he credits working under and alongside a long list of top coaches who have prepared him for this next step in his career.

While Graham will be looking to take inspiration from the coaches he has worked under, he also vowed to be doing things his own way.

He added: “It’s really important that you take bits from every coach that you’ve worked under. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of top players and coaches.

“Brian Rice is obviously one of them, he’s been around for a long, long time, he’s got a lot of experience in the game and he was brilliant with me.

“Likewise, other managers have been as well, Jack Ross, Jim Goodwin and Peter Grant so how can you not gain experience from these guys?

“I’ll still do it my own way but it was good to get insight from all of them. Even back further through my career, I’ve worked with Ian McCall at Ayr and Alan Moore at Stirling, Billy Reid at Hamilton.

“Loads of different coaches and perspectives, it’s important that I take bits and pieces from everybody but it’s my management job so I’ll put my own stamp on it.”

Graham joined Alloa in 2016, becoming a pivotal member of the squad that gained promotion to the Scottish Championship in 2018.

He has remained a key part of the squad since joining and in that time has become a well-respected member of the team.

Graham spoke about how his relationship with his teammates will be different now that he has made the move up to management.

He continued: “Society has moved on from when I started playing football when the manager was the manager and you didn’t speak to him unless you were in trouble or getting released.

“It’s not something that phases me at all, I’m going to do it my way, if that means I still have a relationship with the players, then that’s essential.

“At the end of the day, it’s those guys that are playing and they’ll determine if I’m a success as a manager so it’s important to have a relationship with them.

“Of course, it’ll be different but that’s the way I’m looking at it and the boys were all good and receptive to what I was saying.

“At the end of the day, players win you football matches, we’re just there to facilitate and help as much as we can.”

The Wasps had their first training session under the new gaffer on Thursday night before a trip to the capital this Saturday.

He credited the atmosphere at the club and the relationships he has with all the staff as providing some continuity between Rice and himself.

“First training session was really good,” Graham said. “I’ve brought in Neil Marshall who is going to help with the coaching staff and I’ve still got Paddy Connolly there as assistant manager.

“It’s great to have Paddy’s experience, he’s been at Alloa for a long time and he knows the way the club works.

“That’s the advantage I’ve got, I know Robert, Joyce, Pat, Geoff, Carol behind the scenes and Lewis on the videos and everyone that helps out.

“When you’ve got those relationships already, that can make the transition much easier as well. The boys were great last night and we’re looking forward to getting the first game done tomorrow.”

Graham faces his first test as a manager as the Wasps travel to the capital tomorrow for a clash with bottom of the table Edinburgh City.

The Citizens have endured a tough start to the season, picking up six points from their first 13 games, leaving them adrift at the bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, Alloa look to continue their run of form, having picked up consecutive wins against Stirling and Queen of the South.

“I think it’ll be a really tough game,” Graham continued. “I watched their game against Falkirk and I thought they were really good.

“They have shown signs of improvement under the new manager, I think they have a talented squad.

“The position they were in at the start was a bit of a false position, they were maybe not getting the rub of the green that they deserved in games.

“This is about how we approach the game and maintain our run of form. We’ve won three in four and we want to make it four in five tomorrow.”