Stuart McCall has set his sights on recovering from a miserable seven days and starting to build some momentum ahead of the Scottish Cup final.
The Steelmen have suffered consecutive heavy defeats in the SPL, shipping five at home to Rangers and then four on a miserable jaunt to Tayside.
But the ‘Well boss reckons Wednesday’s encounter against Kilmarnock is the perfect opportunity to tighten up at the back and return to winning ways ten days before the club’s biggest match in 20 years.
“We got into the top six by finishing sixth; meaning that over the course of the season there has been five clubs better than us. So, theoretically, the remaining matches were going to be difficult,” McCall conceded. “You can add the tiredness of the lads, having played so many games, into that. But the last two games, and the goals against, have been disappointing.
“From a defensive point of view we have leaked too many goals recently, and we will look to remedy that. But the bottom line is; if we can go into the Cup final with a fully fit squad, with recharged lads who are ready to give one last push, then that is what we must aim for.
“As much as we talk about the top six – and we are delighted to be there – when you have a Cup final to look forward to that is the be-all and end-all.”
The former Bradford boss was also candid enough to admit that catching Killie in the race for fifth spot in the SPL will be a tough assignment. Motherwell would have to beat the Ayrshire side and then get a result at Celtic Park, while hoping Killie lose at home to Rangers.
McCall is refusing to give up on that aim, but is more concerned with getting a good result on the board ahead of the final – especially against a Kilmarnock side who ‘robbed’ Motherwell on their last visit to Lanarkshire.
The former Everton and Rangers midfielder continued: “It will be difficult. If we do beat Kilmarnock then we will need a point on the last day of the season at Celtic Park – and that’s surmising Kilmarnock lose to Rangers – so that’s a huge ask.
“Our main focus is to put a really strong performance in against Kilmarnock and get a good result. Look at the performance Stoke put in against Arsenal just before their Cup final (a 3-1 win) and that is the type of performance I want, to build momentum and build confidence.
“We played really well against them here last time and got beat 1-0 – in fact, we were robbed. There’s no doubt about that. I feel we owe them a wee bit of revenge; we didn’t take our chances and their keeper played well.”
The Motherwell boss also took a moment with the assembled press to dismiss any complaints over his side’s performance against Rangers recently, namely from Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
After the Hoops’ 2-0 victory at Rugby Park, Lennon asserted: “We need teams to compete against Rangers, and there hasn’t been much evidence of that in the last two matches.”
The first of those ‘last two matches’ was Rangers’ 5-0 win over Motherwell, and the ‘Well boss certainly doesn’t believe his team lacked a desire to compete.
“I’ve not taken a lot of notice of it,” said McCall. “What I would say is anyone who was at our game against Rangers would have seen the team we put out; we put out a side which could be considered our strongest eleven.
“Anyone who was at that game knows how well we played in the first half, and I was disappointed to go in behind at the break. In the second half, yes, we wilted, but that was as much to do with Rangers getting the second goal and getting the confidence.
“If anyone thinks I want to send a team out to lose any matches then they don’t know me. Do you think we wanted to get beat 5-0? Of course not!”