The post-split fixtures have not been kind to Motherwell, but Tom Hateley insists he cannot wait to commence the battle for fourth place on Sunday afternoon.
Arguably the most impressive SPL team in the land at the moment are coming to town in the form of Peter Houston’s Dundee United side, and Hateley has absolutely no doubt about the importance of Sunday’s match.
“It is a massive game this weekend.” Hateley said honestly. “We knew as soon as the Celtic game finished that our match with Dundee United would be huge. We only have two home games after the split so we really need to try and beat United and Hibs and grab that fourth spot.
“There is a great belief in the squad that we can get that fourth spot and win any match that we play. Results haven’t gone our way in the last three games but hopefully that little bit of luck can bounce back round this weekend.
“It’s a really close fight for fourth place. Our home games are very important. Hopefully we can win on Sunday and also beat Hibs at home, and they could be vital wins. But it all comes down to results – Hibs could lose this weekend and we could win and we would jump straight into fourth and it would be ours to lose. Time will tell.”
Tuesday nights defeat in Glasgow means Motherwell have now followed up their twelve game unbeaten run with a three match losing streak. This fact doesn’t faze the versatile Hateley, who expects the club to get back to winning ways if the performances stay at the current level:
“We’ve lost three games in a row, so our good run before that is a distant memory. We’ll now take every game and hopefully try and get this run back on track over the last five games.
“You could say at Parkhead we were a bit unlucky as we had some great chances and their keeper pulled off some great saves, so hopefully our luck in front of goal will change and those chances will start going in.”
A 3-0 defeat to Dundee United a few weeks ago sparked the current run of defeats, and Hateley is characteristically frank about ‘Well’s desire for revenge for a very unflattering score line.
“We all feel like we really owe them one for the match up there a couple of weeks ago.” He smiled. “We played well at Tannadice. We had some great balls into the box and good chances but we just couldn’t finish them, and 3-0 flattered them a bit.”
Tom Hateley was crowned Motherwell fans’ young player of the year at a ceremony at Fir Park last Saturday to cap what has been a marvellous campaign, and with his current deal expiring in the summer it is believed renewing his deal is high on the Motherwell board’s priorities.
In a week that has seen Keith Lasley and Stephen Craigan followed Steven Hammell in signing new deals at the club, the Englishman has made no secret of his desire to stay at the club where he has become a central figure even at a young age.
“I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.” He said, “I’m only 20 and I wanted to come to Motherwell and play games and progress as a player, and that’s what this club has given me the chance to do. I can’t thank them enough, and I certainly would never say no to staying here.
“The gaffer has said for a few months now that he wants to get everybody signed up because we have got quite a few players out of contract. A couple more have now put pen to paper and that is good for the club – especially as Lasley and Craigan are players that have been here for ages. So everyone at the club is happy about it.
“My contract expires this summer. We are just talking at the moment, and the gaffer has told me just to concentrate on playing. I’m happy to do that because I just want to be getting minutes on the pitch then hopefully we can get something sorted.”