Motherwell FC News – Sept 2000
Motherwell FC News
Saturday, September 23
We went down 1-0 to Rangers at Fir Park this afternoon in a game which more or less summed up our season to date. At times we played reasonably well and were in no way outclassed by the opposition, but yet again we offered almost nothing upfront. Rangers’ goal came early on when a Michael Mols shot was deflected over Andy Goram, and the visitors then seemed content to sit in and defend their lead. As a result we had plenty of possession but created only one clear cut chance, with 5 mins to go Lee McCulloch had a free header from around 6 yards out, but he put it straight at the ‘keeper. Overall it was a very poor game with few goal mouth incidents at either end, but I don’t think we’ll ever have a better chance of beating Rangers as today they were there for the taking.
A small group of Motherwell fans unveiled a “Davies Must Go” banner at half-time during today’s game.
No updates for a week as I’m off on holiday! For the latest news on the club, visit some of the other Motherwell sites.
Friday, September 22
Latest injury update: Ged Brannan is touch and go for the game against Rangers and the only other real doubt is John Davies (stop sniggering!). John Spencer and Stephen Nicholas are back in training whilst Adams, Harvey and Greg Strong all played for the Under 21s on Monday.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s game, Billy Davies said:
“We know that Rangers are a quality side and are aware that Dick Advocaat has the ability and the manpower to make many tactical changes just as he did with Tugay against Monaco. I do expect changes from the side that played in France but that will not necessarily make it weaker. It is more a case of keeping it fresh for the SPL games. Against Rangers we have got to get players playing to their full potential and we must be ready and willing to defend at the top of our form. But most importantly we must focus on ourselves and on the style that we want to play.”
The Under-18s have a match tomorrow against their St Johnstone counterparts at East Kilbride Junior Park, kick-off 11am.
Thursday, September 21
Pat Nevin had spoken out on the European Commission’s plan to abolish transfer fees:
“I believe if this goes ahead, in the worst case scenario, it is hard to imagine teams like Motherwell surviving. If you take away the transfer fees, economically, it will not make sense. Motherwell will not be able to survive in the form they are today. We would have to scrap our youth system, and although that sounds awful, you cannot spend thousands of pounds without any prospect of a return.”
Wednesday, September 20
At Monday’s press conference, Billy Davies gave an update on the injury situation. Apparently Scott Leitch does not need an operation and there is an outside chance he will recover in time for the match against Rangers, if not certainly for the match at Tynecastle the following week. The news on Ged Brannan is less clear but he will see a specialist tomorrow. Greg Strong, Paul Harvey, Martyn Corrigan and Derek Adams were all expected to get a run out for the Under-21s on Monday night. Billy declined to comment on Wolves’ reported £500,000 bid for Lee McCulloch, but it does appear that the English side have expressed an interest in him.
Apparently auditions for the two new Motherwell Mascots Claret & Amber are being held at Fir Park tomorrow at 3pm. Both mascots are teddy bears!
Ricky’s report of the Hibs game is now available.
Tuesday, September 19
Reports suggest that Wolves are considering a £700,000 bid for Lee McCulloch after their initial offer of £500,000 was apparently rejected. However, Billy Davies says he knows nothing of Wolves’ interest.
Monday, September 18
Today’s Sun reports that Wolves are set to make an improved offer for Lee McCulloch after having an initial bid of £500,000 rejected. Apparently Motherwell are holding out for £1 million.
Sunday, September 17
Billy Davies said he had no complaints about yesterday’s result:
“Overall Hibs won more battles on the pitch. I said to them before the match that it was important we came out on top individually. I felt Hibs wanted it a little bit more than we did and deserved the victory. At 1-0 I felt we came into the game and created a few chances. But to lose a goal like we did was criminal. A long ball from the goalkeeper knocked down and all of a sudden you are 2-0 down. You can’t be doing that at this level. There were a lot of balls delivered into the box and there were a few chances for us to take but we were a little bit behind. Maybe it’s the way things are going. We will have to roll up our sleeves and try and battle through it.”
Saturday, September 16
Normal service was resumed this afternoon when we went down 2-0 to Hibs at Easter Road. At times we didn’t actually play too badly, but our build up play was far too pedestrian and predictable, and once again we offered absolutely nothing upfront. Despite starting the game with several players who were clearly unfit, we knocked the ball about quite well early on and had a Don Goodman goal disallowed, presumably for offside. However, the longer the half went on the more Hibs came into the game, and we survived a couple of penalty claims as the interval approached, one of which looked stonewall. The home side took the lead early on in the second half when a Russel Latapy shot appeared to be deflected into the net by Mixu Paatelainen. Following the goal we enjoyed a long spell of possession, but despite a lot of huffing and puffing we only really created one clear goalscoring opportunity, when Lee McCulloch blazed the ball over the bar from close range. Hibs hit us on the break with 5 mins to go to kill the game – a long punt upfield caught out our defence and allowed Paatelainen with a clear run on goal, and he beat Goram at his near post with a low drive. There were very few positives to take from today’s performance, and with two difficult games coming up against Rangers and Hearts we are looking more and more like relegation candidates.
Friday, September 15
As if we didn’t have enough injury problems, Scott Leitch is likely to be out for two or three weeks after undergoing a scan on a knee problem suspected to be cartilage damage. John Spencer, Greg Strong, John Davies, Paul Harvey, Kevin Twaddle and Steve Nicholas are all either injury doubts or on the first steps of recovery, although Ged Brannan and Derek Adams are closer to returns.
The upcoming game against Hearts has been moved to Sunday October 1 due to the Jambos involvement in Europe the previous midweek.
Thursday, September 14
All SPL fixtures will go ahead as planned at the weekend following the end of the fuel blockades.
Kevin Twaddle has become the latest addition to the injury list. The winger, just back after breaking his wrist, suffered a recurrence of an Achilles complaint during training and is not expected to play against Hibs on Saturday. Greg Strong is back in training after suffering a foot injury and will undergo a fitness test before the game.
A posting to the Mailing List suggests that former Motherwell player Eliphas Shivute has left Chinese football to have a week’s trial with Swindon.
Wednesday, September 13
The SPL will announce tomorrow if the weekend’s fixtures are to be cancelled as a result of the current fuel crisis.
Tuesday, September 12
Billy Davies insists that Motherwell haven’t turned the corner, despite Saturday’s first SPL win against St Mirren:
“We’ve still achieved nothing and the only thing we have done is pick up three points. There is a long way to go and there is still a lot of hard work to be done. The players know that, although getting our first league victory will make a big difference. Saturday’s result was a big deal for everybody and for the first time we looked like the team who did well last season.”
However, it appears that Saturday’s win has come at a price, with both John Spencer and Ged Brannan picking up hamstring injuries. Both will see specialists over the next few days. Don Goodman is suffering a little with a dead leg, but Derek Adams should be back in contention soon after playing for the Under-21s last night. Davies added:
“It’s not looking good. John Spencer is toiling badly and Ged Brannan is also a big concern. I’ve had a lot to cope with so far this season but the biggest disappointment is we have had so many players out injured.”
On the plus side, Benito Kemble came through the match unscathed. The Dutchman said:
“We have been waiting for this result so long so it was a big relief. I felt guilty even when I was injured because you always think you might add something to the team. We have been determined for every game, not just the one against St Mirren. We have to approach every game as if it is a final and the game at Easter Road on Saturday will be no different from that. It really makes no difference to the guys wether it is at home or away we just want to get something out of every game. The fans at the game against St Mirren were great, they got behind us right from the start and stayed with us all the way.””
The Under-21 side defeated their St Mirren counterparts 8-1 last night, with goals from Martin Wood (2), Derek Adams (2), Pat Nevin (2), Keith Lasley and John Fallon.
Ricky’s report of the St Mirren game is now available.
Monday, September 11
This morning’s Daily Record reports that Motherwell are set to award former striker Dougie Arnott a testimonial match, with Chelsea and Sunderland under consideration as possible opponents. Dougie made over 250 appearances for the ‘Well after signing from Pollok Juniors in 1986.
Sunday, September 10
Today’s papers report that Andy Goram is close to signing a two-year extension to his contract that would see him end his career at Fir Park. Pat Nevin had the following comment to make:
“We’ve started talks with Andy’s agent and things are progressing well. Talk of a three-year deal is premature, as is a coaching post, but then Andy coaches our young keepers at present anyway.”
After going four years without a goal in his time at Fir Park, Simo Valakari scored for Derby County in this afternoon’s Premiership match with Charlton. No, honestly!
Ricky’s report of the Dunfermline game is now available.
Saturday, September 9
We finally recorded out first SPL win of the season with a 1-0 victory at Love Street this afternoon. This was night and day compared to Wednesday night’s performance and was easily our best display of the season so far. With Benito Kemble back in the side we looked a lot more secure at the back, but the biggest improvement came in midfield with the reintroduction of Elliott, Twaddle and especially Brannan. Right from the kick-off you could sense there was a bit more confidence about the team, but when chance after chance was passed up in the first half the ‘Well fans feared the worse. However, the goal we deserved eventually came after 53 mins when Scot Leitch’s superb ball out wide was played across goal by Twaddle and tapped in from around 6 yards by Lee McCulloch. We continued to have the better of the game, but the longer it stayed at 1-0 the more and more St Mirren came into the match and we survived a couple of near misses in the final few minutes to hang on for a deserved victory. Bring on the Hibees!
Speaking after the match, Billy Davies said:
“It’s a great weight off our shoulders and I’m delighted with the result. I am also delighted we created lots of chances and we scored a great goal. The backing from the fans was magnificent and now its up to us to get more points. After all the stuff that has gone on during the week, I was delighted with the commitment of our players. Their response was magnificent and it gave me a lift. It looks like I’ll be in the job for another week! I went for dinner with John during the week and we had a good chat about things. There is no problem between us and we believe what we are doing is correct. Hopefully we can go on and look the part in the league this season.”
Friday, September 8
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Billy Davies said:
“We should have Kemble, Strong, Twaddle, Brannan and Adams back for the St Mirren game so I’m confident we will turn the corner and soon. I accept the disappointment of the fans and the responsibility that I have, but we have raised expectations overt the past two years and it is a rod for our own back I suppose. All the games are tough and Saturday will be no exception but we will work away and try not to add to the frustrations that we have all felt so far. I do not feel under any pressure whatsoever. I was asked the same thing three weeks ago and I’m not naive enough to think that bad times like this are not going to happen at a football club. You do not come into this job thinking that everything is going to be rosy year in and year out. This type of situation at Motherwell is not anything new. I’ve experienced it a number of times over the years I’ve been here as a player and we have dug ourselves out of it. Motherwell have had some success over the past two seasons and we have created a rod for our own back in that sense. I came into this job knowing there are better managers than me and bigger clubs than Motherwell who have been in the same position. In football sometimes it arrives on your own doorstep and it has arrived on ours. We have to be strong and battle through it.”
Pat Nevin had the following points to make at last night’s supporter’s meeting at Fir Park:
- Billy Davies has the full backing of the club. Pat went to great lengths to make clear his 100% admiration for his managerial abilities.
- There appears to be no money available for new players. The players who have arrived this season are those previously identified by Billy and indeed he had been tracking Elliot for many months.
- John Boyle has invested over £4 million into the club and we should not expect him to keep pumping money into the club without getting increased numbers through the turnstiles.
- Motherwell are a selling club and any player could be made available at the right price and in the players best interest.
- The players collectively appear to be suffering a confidence problem but not a problem with morale.
- The fact that John Davies was given a squad number of 8 did not indicate that he was anything but a squad player and was not intended to be an automatic first team choice.
- Negotiations have already begun with a couple of the first team players whose contracts will be up at the end of the season. Andy Goram has not signed a new three year deal.
- The teams selected so far this season have been as a result of injuries and suspensions and B.D. has been forced into playing players who are not match fit as he had no other options. When asked why some of the under 21 players have not been brought on he stated that the timing was not right and that it could be detrimental to a young players confidence.
- Pat thinks that the support in the last two games has been excellent and that the players have noticed an improvement.
- He conceded that Wednesday night’s performance was awful.
- He is genuinely concerned about the EU proposals to abolish transfer fees as it would have a catastrophic effect in Scottish football.
- Strong has a knee injury and is a major doubt for Saturday. Kemble, Twaddle and Adams should be fit.
- Absolutely no move was made by Motherwell to sign Paul Gascoigne and Pat said he would rather have Leitch anyway!
- Seems we are stuck with Xara as no major kit supplier was interested in manufacturing for us as we’re not a big enough club. The current strip was the best available and it does not signify the end of the hoop.
- Much mention was made at the lack of a testimonial for Dougie Arnott and Pat has given a firm commitment to meet up with Dougie to move this issue forward. Teams suggested included Sunderland, Chelsea and P.S.V. Alisdair Barron’s suggestion of a joint testimonial for both Dougie and Chris McCart against Celtic was quickly rejected!
- Scott Leitch is seen by the club as a replacement for Simo and though Pat acknowledged that they did not play in exactly the same style he reckons that Leitch can fill the gap in midfield.
- The under 21 team is seen by the club as a feeder for the first team. The current squad of youngsters have many players who could feature at under 18 level and are much younger than the squads of other premier teams. This often means that results in the league go against them but Pat made no apologies for this stating that the aim of the squad was not to win the league but to bring through young talent in the mould of Hammel, Nicholas and Wood.
- Pat acknowledged that we seem to have had more than our fair share of flack from the tabloid press but that he was now in charge of media relations and he hopes that things will improve on
- Less money is now coming into Fir Park as a result of John Boyle’s pricing policy as more people have moved from more expensive seats into the cheaper East Stand. This is obviously not what the club had intended to happen.
(Many thanks to Margaret Leslie for the above report).
The full statement from the players which appeared in yesterday’s Motherwell Times is available here (courtesy of Greg S).
Thursday, September 7
Billy Davies tried to put a brave face on the 2-0 League Cup defeat by Dunfermline last night and insisted his players have the attitude to put things right:
“One or two of them lacking confidence but we have to keep working away at it. John Spencer’s miss was a crucial part of the game and at that time we kept on working. We have to keep on grafting and on Saturday we will be looking to get our first win of the season but there is no doubt that there is still passion there in the team. I am still very confident. I have not lost any confidence or belief in what we do. Nothing has changed. I will continue to do what I do and continue to preach what I have been preaching in the last two years. The success we have had has created a rod for our own backs, but I came into this job knowing there have been better managers than me and bigger clubs than Motherwell that have been in the same position. We have got to be strong and battle through it”
When asked about Billy Davies’ position, Pat Nevin said:
“I think people know I’m totally behind Billy. Over the past two seasons he has been very successful. Now this is a time of difficulty and that’s when a manager earns his corn. Buying our way out is not an option. We put in place the team that we wanted at the start of the season. I suppose if you are Celtic or Rangers you can go and buy a couple of £6m players but Motherwell
are not in that position. I don’t think that would be the right thing to do anyway.”
The playing staff have taken the unusual step of having a statement printed in today’s Motherwell Times in an attempt to present their side of the argument over bonuses. In the article, the players claim the whole situation was blown out of all proportion by the press, and they also say that the bonus they were initially offered was in fact a reduction compared to the previous season’s offer.
Wednesday, September 6
Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, we crashed out of the League Cup tonight when Dunfermline comfortably beat us 2-0. Yet another shocking performance, no creativity in midfield and absolutely nothing upfront. In fact, I can’t even remember us having a shot on target throughout the entire 90 mins. In the first half, Dunfermline time and time again were able to stroll through our defence (including Steve McMillan at centre half?), and only two great saves from Andy Goram and one header which hit the crossbar saved us from a thrashing. It’ll be interesting to hear what excuses Billy Davies comes up with this time, but the harsh reality is that we are complete and utter crap. A number of fans were calling for the manager’s head tonight, and defeat at Love St on Saturday would surely put his position under serious threat.
More team news ahead of tonight’s game: Benito Kemble is a major doubt while Steven Nicholas is definitely out after breaking two bones in his wrist in a reserve game. Ged Brannan, Scott Leitch and Kevin Twaddle all started jogging again on Monday and will face fitness tests before the match.
Tuesday, September 5
At yesterday’s press conference (they are apparently held every Monday and Thursday at 1.30pm), Stewart Elliott spoke of his Northern Ireland debut on Saturday:
“It was great to be involved with the Northern Irish national team against Malta the other day. It was also a great surprise to be drafted in so quickly after signing for Motherwell I had played under-21 before but it is very difficult for a part time player, as I was at Glentoran, to be considered for a full international game. Any player is proud to represent his country and I’m no different. It was a difficult match against Malta and I just hope if I work hard then there will be more opportunities for me in the future.”
Billy Davies added:
“Once we get him fit I’m sure he will be able to go to places like Ibrox and Parkhead and do himself justice. We really didn’t want to call on him so early but with the extraordinary number of injuries we have had, we were left with no choice in the matter.”
Elliott may be needed again for tomorrow night’s League Cup tie at Dunfermline as a number of players as still touch and go, including Scott Leitch, Ged Brannan and Derek Adams.
Elliott’s debut for Northern Ireland means that the club will have to make a further payment of £20,000 to Glentoran following a clause in his contract.
According to the Superscoreboard website, Andy Goram has been offered a new three-year contract.
Monday, September 4
Speaking of his Northern Ireland on Saturday, Stewart Elliot said:
“I was out to prove a point and I hope I have as I tried to make myself a menace. It was great to get the first game under my belt and hopefully it is the first of many. Sammy thought I had a great debut, but I never thought it would come this quick.”
A photo of Don Goodman receiving his Player of the Year award is now available!
Sunday, September 3
Stewart Elliott played for the first 60 mins of Northern Ireland’s 1-0 over Malta yesterday before being substituted.
Friday, September 1
Today’s newspapers confirm that the bonus row has finally been resolved, a story we ran yesterday. Pat Nevin is quoted as saying:
“The board considered the bonus issue on Tuesday night, I spoke to the players on Wednesday and there was no problem in reaching an agreement.”
Meanwhile, Greg Strong insists the players can now concentrate on matters on the field:
“We are glad its all behind us – it was never a big thing and not as bad as it was made out to be. It’s been a tough week but there’s no complaints from the players. It’s what we needed, and has confirmed that everyone is pointing in the right direction. Sure we are disappointed at not winning games, but we haven’t had much luck. We are all battling away together and are confident we can soon turn it round.”