John Sutton’s towering headed brace against Dundee United last week saw him become Motherwell’s top scorer this season, but the big front man admits he would forsake another goal at Tynecastle this weekend if it meant ‘Well would get a vital three points in the race for Europe.
Sutton is expected to lead the line again against Jim Jefferies men in the Capital after an impressive – albeit ultimately futile – performance against The Arabs, and getting back to winning ways is the only priority for Sutton:
“The main thing is to win games.” He insisted. “It felt good to score in the last game, but I have to admit that it doesn’t count for a lot when the team doesn’t win. Playing in a winning team is much more rewarding than scoring goals for yourself.
“I’m just as happy setting up chances for Jamie (Murphy) or Lukas (Jutkiewicz). As long as the team are creating chances, we are playing good football and scoring goals that is all that matters.”
Motherwell are currently enduring a run of four matches without a victory since the clubs magnificent 13-match unbeaten run came to a halt. This is despite the fact the team have turned in a series of very respectable performances.
Although some cynics might claim ‘the bubble has burst’ for ‘Well the English striker has seen enough from his team in recent matches to remain confident about The Steelmen’s chances in the run-in.
“When you look at our performances in the last few games it is quite obvious we aren’t a million miles away. We just hope we can cut out the silly errors at the back and be a bit more clinical up top in order to get the result on Saturday.” Sutton confidently stated.
“We can take the positives from the way we are playing, at the same time just improve our concentration. I believe we will pick ourselves up because we have some big games coming up and lots to play for before the end of the season.”
Craig Brown has admitted that as well as vying for a Europa Cup place he sees Motherwell’s presence in the top six as a perfect rehearsal for a season in the upper echelons of the SPL next year. The trip to Gorgie will undoubtedly serve as a testing examination of the squad’s current state in relation to, traditionally, one of the most powerful clubs in Scotland out with the Old Firm.
The former Spurs trainee Sutton acknowledges that Motherwell aren’t spoken in the same breath as some of the ‘bigger’ clubs in the country, but thinks there is evidence that the club could be heading that way:
“Motherwell is a really excellent football club, but I don’t think we are regarded as being of the same stature as clubs like Hearts, Hibs, Dundee United or Aberdeen.
“So if we can finish fourth and play in Europe for the third consecutive season it would be a fantastic achievement and would make a real statement about the potential Motherwell Football Club has.”
With Motherwell defying expectations in fifth spot and the goals flowing freely for John Sutton, you would forgive him for not having many regrets from the current campaign, but he openly admits that Europe is playing on his mind.
‘Well were defeated by Steaua Bucharest this season and were eliminated by French side AS Nancy-Lorraine the year before, and those brief forays into continental qualification have made Sutton all the more desperate to qualify again this season – and perhaps right some wrongs.
“I don’t think we have done ourselves justice in previous campaigns.” The striker said frankly. “We all feel like we have a lot more to give in Europe, and we are all desperate to play on that stage again and that certainly helps drive us on.
“Scottish clubs get a bad press for not doing well enough in European competition, and that just makes us all the more keen to qualify and see if we can get a scalp or two next season!”
The fact John Sutton was able to talk about the prospect of Europa Cup football at Fir Park next season to the assembled press is testament to the miraculous job Craig Brown and Archie Knox have done since taking the reins at the turn of the year. At that moment in time turning Jim Gannon’s relegation candidates into genuine European contenders would have seemed farcical, but a win in Edinburgh would see it a step closer to becoming reality.
Like everyone else at the club, Sutton was glowing in his praise for the management duo, and expressed his relief that they would be carrying on into next season.
“They have made a massive difference. The atmosphere at the club is fantastic now and the enthusiasm they bring to training is fantastic; and as well as that their experience and tactical knowledge is just fantastic.
“Everyone was really pleased when they signed new deals and we can now really look forward to next season knowing we will have great men in charge.”