STEVEN HAMMELL will take his first step as a fully fledged manager today, and in a serendipitous twist, he will do so in the very same place where he kicked off his career as a player some 22 years ago.

Back then, he was a young member of Billy Davies’ star-studded Motherwell squad of the 90s. Today, he will lead Motherwell to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen as the man in the hotseat.

Hammell is a level-headed character, and even ahead of his bow at the tender age of 18 all those years ago, he was fully prepared for what was to come.

He would like to think that he is once again ready for what lies ahead today, even if what lies ahead as a manager is obviously impossible to predict. But he is certainly hoping for a different outcome to the one in his first game as a professional.

“I remember we lost 2-1,” Hammell said. “I think Andy Dow cut in [to score] and Stevie Woods should have saved it. I’ll speak to Stevie about that! 

“I remember going up to the game. I felt I was ready well before that to play. But when we were travelling up, Billy Davies said that Stephen McMillan was struggling with an injury. 

“It was very relaxed. He just came over and told me: ‘You’re playing tomorrow’ I was like: ‘Right, ok.’

“I think we lost a goal early but I played well in the game and I don’t think I came out the team for about 100 games afterwards. It was a good starting point for me, even if we didn’t win the game unfortunately.

“I’ve been relaxed about [taking my first game as permanent manager]. Even the game at the weekend I was more worried about the team and if they were going to do what we had asked them to do. It wasn’t about me, there’s no concerns about me.

“I’ve been on the touchline for about 10 games a week before in my job before, so that’s not foreign. It’s just standing on the touchline in a first-team match that’s different.

“Of course there’s more pressure, the environment is more hostile, but I’m relaxed about that.

“I feel ready, I feel fine about it. We’ve had good buy-in from the players. The feedback from the players has been great, which has given me good confidence to build on what we want to do here.

“Of course it is going to be difficult, Aberdeen is one of the toughest venues on the calendar, so we know we need to be very, very close to our best to have a positive performance.”

Hammell is of course delighted to have won out in the battle for the Motherwell job after the interview process this week, but that is not to say he isn’t keenly aware of what he has put on the line in taking the post.

For one, he had a fairly important job already at the Fir Park club as a respected coach and head of their academy. There is also the small matter of his relationship with the Motherwell support, who regard him as a legend after making 583 appearances for the club as a player.

“That’s the thing, exactly,” he said. “That’s where we’ve put ourselves now. 

“I understand how volatile it can be in the manager’s seat. But the fact we’ve gone through the recruitment process and they believe I’m the right person means I have to do it. 

“It has been my working life. I came here just before my 16th birthday and pretty much been here ever since. It is everything. I know I am now in a position where you are going to be scrutinised and there is pressure on you.  

“It’s something I’ve looked at, weighed up and accepted. That comes with the territory. But there is nobody who puts more pressure on this job than myself and there is no-one who will do anything more to succeed than me.”

The 40-year-old has counted the managers in and counted them out during his long career at Fir Park, serving under 12 permanent bosses as a player, even allowing for his short stint at Southend United.

Not all of them were necessarily successful, or even all that memorable, but a little bit of each of them will inform his approach now that he is the man in charge.

“You learn a lot from every manager you played under, even the ones who weren’t as successful as they wanted to be,” he said. “I still learned so much from them all. 

“Alex McLeish was the first when he came to my house and convinced me to sign for the club. Then it was pretty much every manager since then. 

“You take things you learn from these guys and put them on top of your own ideas as well, things you have learned on your own path. 

“Especially now, you need to be able to control players and know how to deal with people. I feel that’s a strength of mine. It’s about how to get the best out of players. 

“Gone are the days when everyone just gets the hairdryer every week, win, lose or draw. I think everyone would agree they are long gone but it’s about how we can be demanding of players so that they are demanding of themselves and take ownership of it. 

“You learn certain things from managers. Good and bad.”

Having been embedded at Fir Park for so many years, Hammell is certainly aware of what this current Motherwell squad requires to give them a fighting chance of making an impact in the Premiership this season, and first and foremost, that is new blood.

That need has been heightened by a cruel injury to left-back Jake Carroll, whose season may already be over after suffering a ruptured patella tendon.

“We’ve already been on that,” he said. “I’ve been preparing as if I’ve been getting the job, so we have got targets.

“It changes every day. The recruitment side of it is so volatile, it’s so uncertain, especially now with how late in the window we are. But it is so key, recruitment.”