The Motherwell players were put through their paces at Dalziel Park ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ross County in the Highlands.
Snaps courtesy of Jeff Holmes and SNSPix.
The Motherwell players were put through their paces at Dalziel Park ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ross County in the Highlands.
Snaps courtesy of Jeff Holmes and SNSPix.
Dundee goalkeeper Dan Twardzik has joined the club on emergency loan until 1st January 2014.
22-year old Twardzik was born in Trinec, in the Czech Republic, but has German nationality.
Ironically, ‘Well tried hard to sign the keeper in the summer of 2009 when he was leaving Bayern Munich, but potential compensation thwarted the transfer and he would later join Karlsruhe, despite doing most of his pre-season training in North Lanarkshire.
He was previously with Como in Italy and Aberdeen before joining up at Dens back in August after being recommended to the club by Gavin Rae, who was a teammate at Pittodrie.
Dan, brother of Celtic twins Filip and Patrik, joins for three weeks with four of Motherwell’s five contracted goalkeepers either ruled out or struggling with knocks/illness.
He will form part of the squad that will travel to Dingwall tomorrow afternoon for Saturday’s SPFL Premiership match with Ross County at the Global Energy Arena.
[pullquote]I am desperate to help Motherwell out and hopefully I can. I want to impress everyone but my first concentration is just to do my job.[/pullquote]
Dan told MFC TV: “It has been a whirlwind last twenty-four hours, it’s hard to believe how quickly things have came about.
“I am desperate to help Motherwell out and hopefully I can. I want to impress everyone but my first concentration is just to do my job. In saying that, I don’t want to put pressure on myself, just do what I can if selected.”
‘Well boss Stuart McCall added: “Gunnar Nielsen picked up a knock in his thigh against Celtic and is a major doubt for the game on Saturday.
“Added to that, Lee Hollis has missed two months with a bad ankle injury and our two sixteen year olds Max Currie (illness) and Brett Long (knee ligaments) are also out; we’ve been forced to try and get some help.
“We are grateful to Dundee for letting him come out on loan to us. I’ve spoke to John Brown, who speaks very highly of him, and he would certainly be knocking on the door but for the form of their number one, Kyle Letheren.
“Gunnar is improving every day and we’ll give him every chance of being fit but in the worst case scenario, at least we can go there with two fit goalkeepers.”
Referee for Saturday’s SPFL Premiership clash with Ross County will be the experienced Crawford Allan.
It will be Crawford’s second Motherwell match of the 2013/14 season. His only other was the 1-0 win over Hibernian last month when a Stephen McManus header gave the 10-man Steelmen all three points.
Allan, one of the country’s best referees, will be a familiar face to ‘Well fans, having handled two matches last term and officiating in Scotland for over a decade.
His first was the goalless draw with Hearts last November, which will be remembered for the collision between Darren Randolph and Calum Paterson.
Randolph was later handed a two match suspension following an enquiry by SFA Compliance Officer Vincent Lunny, Motherwell did appeal the decision, however were unsuccessful in their attempts to have the ban overturned.
The second will be remembered for the on-field exploits as Motherwell and Kilmarnock shared a 2-2 draw just after Christmas last year.
Kenny Shiels’ Killie had raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Perez and Heffernan but a close-range goal from Jamie Murphy and a Henrik Ojamaa stunner levelled things up.
Tragically, Allan took charge of the ‘Well game on the 29th December 2007, forever etched in history as the date when Phil O’Donnell tragically passed away in the 5-3 victory over Dundee United.
Speaking publically, Allan admitted Phil’s death had a profound effect on the whistler but won heartfelt praise for the way he handled what was an extremely difficult situation and his sensitive approach will be forever appreciated by everyone at Motherwell Football Club and is recognised each time he returns to Fir Park.
In another twist of fate, Crawford is only one of two referees to have ever taken charge of a Motherwell away game at Fir Park as the Steelmen faced hosts Gretna during the 2007/2008 campaign.
His record in charge of the ‘Well is a fairly decent one, with the Fir Parkers winning seven, drawing six and losing four (which all came in the 2011/12 season) of the seventeen games in total. In those games, 48 players have seen yellow, 26 in Claret and Amber, whilst four have been sent for an early bath including Shaun Hutchinson in his last match.
Allan will be ably assisted by Alasdair Ross and Gavin Harris with John McKendrick on fourth official duties. Referee Observer is Bill Machray and SPFL Delegate is Tom Purdie.
Motherwell FC is looking to recruit Bar Supervisors and Bar Staff to strengthen our current team.
We need candidates who are well spoken and well presented – with a positive attitude and a desire to succeed.
You will have strong work experience within either a bar, restaurant or hotel environment.
Ideally the Bar Supervisors will have a personal licence – this is preferable although not essential.
Good rates of pay offered for both positions and work available now.
Please send a CV / covering letter detailing your experience to Jennifer.Reston@motherwellfc.co.uk.
Only successful applicants will be contacted.
Extended highlights from Fir Park as despite a brave comeback, the Under 20s lost 3-2 to Kilmarnock.
Under 20s boss Jonatan Johansson bemoaned his side’s defending after losing 2-3 to Kilmarnock.
The Steelmen created enough chances to win numerous matches but could only take two on their own patch.
At the other end, the former Charlton striker will no doubt feel all three goals conceded were very much preventable, in what was a frustrating night at Fir Park.
The 106-times capped Finn told MFC TV after the match: “We created a lot of chances, but we simply cannot continue to lose so many sloppy goals as we’re always going to be up against it.
[pullquote]We created a lot of chances, but we simply cannot continue to lose so many sloppy goals as we’re always going to be up against it.[/pullquote]
“That’s what cost us the game tonight and it’s that sort of professionalism the first-team manager will look at; it’s not good enough to play for 75 or 80 minutes because in what is left, we’re conceding and losing games.
“I was more pleased with how we played in the second half as opposed to the first. They score with virtually their only chance of the half; it was a real sucker punch.
“In saying all that, we could and maybe should have scored five or six goals but we didn’t. It wasn’t our day, we created our own downfall and can only blame ourselves.”
Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park
Slack defending would cost ‘Well dear as the Under 20s crashed 3-2 to Kilmarnock at Fir Park this evening.
Killie raced into a two-goal lead at the break, Robbie Muirhead firing both goals for the Ayrshire side.
Goals for David Ferguson and Dale Shirkie had the home side level midway through the second half and it looked as if there would only be one winner at the point, but Splaine’s long-range strike twelve minutes from time handed Killie all three points.
Under 20s coach Jonatan Johansson named an unchanged side for the first time this season as his charges looked to take some degree of revenge for the recent defeat in the SFA Youth Cup.
The game got off to an open start with chances for both sides, Dale Shirkie sent a shot high past keeper Devlin MacKay only to see it rebound off the cross bar. At the other end, David Silva found space at the edge of the box but his shot slid inches wide of Ross Stewart’s right hand post.
Killie took the lead after only nine minutes; referee Newlands awarded what looked like an innocuous fee kick 20-yards out. This wasn’t to be the case though as Muirhead picked his spot and sent the ball high into the top left hand corner with Stewart at full stretch.
Shirkie was unlucky with a couple of headed chances, his first from a Jack Leitch corner bouncing clear off a defender, and his second glancing just wide of the post.
‘Well then had a half hearted shout as Steven Higgins went down as he tried to round the keeper but nothing was given by the match official.
Killie punished ‘Well for not taking any of their chances when Muirhead made it two twelve minutes from the break.
A terrific switch pass over the top by David Silva sent him clear and although it looked as though his first two touches had dulled the momentum, his third was a crisp left foot strike, which found the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors were the better side for the remainder of the half and were unlucky not to go into the break three up. Andrew Hainey saw one free kick turned over by Stewart and another wide on the right hit the outside of the post.
Motherwell were almost back in it within ten minutes of the re-start, but Killie keeper Devlin MacKay pulled off a brilliant low save to deny the marauding Chris Cadden.
This set the tone for the early stages of the half as the Steelmen looked to find a way back into the game.
Shirkie was unlucky to turn a Dom Thomas cross wide from close range before heading a Jack Leitch cross over the bar.
The goal finally came in the 69th minute; a Thomas cross into the six-yard box was headed home from close range by Ferguson who had burst a gut to get into the box.
A minute later the sides were level and Shirkie was finally rewarded for his persistence when he smashed home from 10 yards after excellent build up play from Thomas.
Incredibly, for all their dominance, Johansson’s men were only level for eight minutes when Killie scored with their first effort of the second half.
Splaine found himself in space 25 yards out. He let fly with a shot that skidded off the surface to squeeze past Stewart at his right hand post.
In stoppage time it looked as though a Thomas had done enough to secure a point but MacKay denied him with a sharp save low to his right.
Motherwell: Stewart, Cadden, Ferguson, Cummins, Neill, Murray, McCafferty, Leitch, Higgins, Shirkie (Anderson – 81mins), Thomas
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Watt, McCall
As Motherwell look to bounce back from one of their most disappointing results when they face Celtic tonight, Henri Anier can draw on a wealth of past experience of overcoming adversity.
The 22-year-old has already played his football in four countries having left home while still at school to move to Italy.
A permanent switch to Sampdoria eventually fell through but Anier showed he could recover from adversity as he made his name back in Estonia with a prolific and trophy-laden spell with Flora to earn his move abroad.
When that switch to Viking Stavanger turned into a frustrating spell on the sidelines, Anier came back again with loan moves in Norway and to Motherwell helping him ignite his international career.
Anier has scored five goals for Motherwell since joining, initially on trial in July, and that form has been repeated on the international stage to help him become Estonia’s top goalscorer in 2013.
The dream of playing abroad that he is now realising saw the striker initially move away from his family as a teenager to join Serie A side Sampdoria in August 2009.
“It wasn’t easy at all,” Anier said. “Nobody could speak English there and I had to learn Italian and a different culture. But it was great experience for me as a footballer and as a normal person.
“I try to take positives from every experience. That’s what makes you stronger.
“It was my last year in high school. I still managed to do it over the Internet. I flew back home to do exams in April and May then went back to Italy. I did a lot of work myself.”
Anier did not think twice about setting off for a foreign land aged 18.
“It was almost the last transfer window day in August so I didn’t have much time to think about it,” he said. “I wanted to be a footballer and it was a great opportunity for me.
“I took it and if I think back now I think just positive things. Of course it was really hard but I managed to finish school and get experience there. That has helped me grow as a footballer and as a person.”
While life off the park in Genoa had its challenges, the football was an exhilarating experience.
Anier learned some goalscoring tips from the likes of Italy strikers Antonio Cassano – who had come to Sampdoria via spells at Roma and Real Madrid – and Giampaolo Pazzini, who subsequently went to Inter and is now with AC Milan.
“That was the crazy thing,” he said. “Life wasn’t easy but everybody loved football, every person in the street. Sampdoria is a big, big club.
“Cassano was there and I trained with him and Pazzini as well – great players and I learned a lot from them. I got to train with the first team one day a week.
“Cassano didn’t speak much English but the first day I was training with him we paired up as strikers. I scored and after that he passed the ball to me.
“He came over to me after training and took me over the shoulder and said: ‘Henri, bravo’. He asked me if I understood Italian and I said ‘a little bit’. He said: ‘You don’t understand anything apart from bravo’. It was a really good experience.”
Anier had left Flora for Sampdoria in a loan deal with a view to a permanent move but the clubs could not reach agreement and Anier found himself back in Tallinn the following year.
However, Anier responded with determination to become a regular goalscorer for Flora and a title winner in both 2010 and 2011.
“Sampdoria liked me and then it was between my old club and them and I don’t know what happened,” he said. “It was a really enjoyable year but I had to go back.
“It was a big disappointment. I heard they wanted me and Sampdoria was a big club. But when I went back home I did well for a year and a half and scored a lot of goals and went to Norway.
“I went abroad and saw I could play at this level and did well. When I went back home my opinion was to get back out again. It was nice to be back with my family and I finished school so that was good. I scored a lot of goals and we became champions and I went to Norway.”
That move was to Viking, Anier’s current parent club, and he again has had to show his mental strength to get to a situation where he is leading goalscorer for his national team this season.
“The manager who bought me was a really good manager, Age Hareide,” the forward said. “They really liked me. I scored five goals in pre-season and did well.
“Then we didn’t play so well at the start of the season. Then the manager got sacked and a new manager came in.
“For me it suits to play up front with someone. The new manager came in and just didn’t appreciate me. It wasn’t easy. That’s football.
“I went on loan to Fredrikstad, in the division below, and they are a big club in Norway. I did really well there, scored five goals and I really enjoyed it.
“Then I had the chance to go to Motherwell. This year has been really great for me. I have scored four goals for the national team and five goals for Motherwell now, so it’s been great.
“I am really happy. I really appreciate McCall and Kenny Black, they are great managers and I really enjoy working with them.
“I have really enjoyed my time here. Hopefully I can stay longer but that’s between the clubs and we will see what happens in the future. I don’t know anything.
“There is still a month to go and I am just focusing on what happens on the pitch. Viking have been in touch a bit but nothing concrete.”
Anier’s form for his country – he has five goals in 13 internationals in all – means Motherwell are still a topic of much interest among Estonian football fans after Anier replaced his international team-mate Henrik Ojamaa at Fir Park.
“They are really interested in Motherwell in the media,” Anier said. “Henrik, my good friend was here before. They really know how I’m doing and what I’m doing.”
Anier’s friendship with Ojamaa – now at Legia Warsaw – stretches back to his first steps as a footballer.
“We have played some games together for the national team. Not together up front because he has been playing right wing. It’s been really fun though because we first played together when we were five years old.
“Henrik came to the same training as me for a few years when we were young. There was a big break after we were about nine. Henrik went away with his brother and we had different coaches but we played together for the under-15 national team and after some more time apart we played together in the national team.
“It was a really good feeling to represent our country together. We talk a lot. He told me a lot of things about Motherwell and it helps. Of course there could have been pressure for me but we are totally different players and people.”
Anier’s varied football journey hit an obstacle last weekend like all of his Motherwell team-mates when they were on the end of a shock William Hill Scottish Cup defeat by Albion Rovers.
But Anier knows well from experience that the only way to cast disappointment aside is through determination and by creating happier memories on the park.
“It was a shock for everyone in the team,” he said. “It was really difficult mentally and emotionally. But life goes on and we have to get our heads up again.
“Obviously football has ups and downs. But Motherwell supporters are great fans and they are always supporting us. We must stick together.
“The gaffer said on Monday morning that we have five points more than we had at this time last year.
“We have done well in the league, some ups and downs, but we have a good all-round team and good coaches. We are third in the league, we have only the league left now and we have to focus on the league.
“From here we have to get our heads up again. We have a really important game on Friday, it’s a home game and we have to go for a win. We have to forget this game and get ready for Friday.”
Article: Gavin McCafferty (vs Celtic Matchday Magazine)
In the months leading up to Stephen Pearson leaving Motherwell in 2004 to join boyhood idols Celtic, many in the Fir Park support were critical of the player, perceiving his head to have been turned by the Glasgow giants.
They made their feelings known audibly from the stands, both upon his return to play against Motherwell with Celtic, and indeed, to the disappointment of the player, prior to his departure whilst still wearing a Motherwell jersey.
“Obviously I was a bit disappointed the way it was handled through the media because it could have been handled a bit better’, explained Pearson.
“I’d rather whatever was spoken about was kept behind closed doors, but that wasn’t the case.
“It seemed to run on and on and on and I regret the way that happened because it kind of left a sour taste with the Motherwell fans in regards to myself, and obviously I was a bit disappointed at being booed by our own fans now and again.
“But that’s how the transfer went and I’m disappointed it went that way. I’ve still got a lot of respect for the Motherwell fans and I’m sure they would say the same about me looking back.
“We’ve moved on from that and I still look out for the Motherwell scores. They’re still my local club and I’ve got a lot of friends there, so I wish them all the best.’
‘Pearo’ burst on to the Fir Park scene as one of the exciting youngsters charged with resurrecting a Motherwell side shorn of its more experienced players following the trauma of administration.
His partnership with Stevie Hammell on the left flank was one of the key strengths of a side that, following a difficult first season, began to haul the club back towards the top six and the latter stages of the cups.
“It gave us a chance,” said Pearson.
“Nobody wanted to see the club go into administration and lose their best players, but from a young boy’s perspective it was an ideal opportunity to try and get in the side.
“It was a real opportunity for the likes of myself and James McFadden and obviously Keith Lasley and Stevie Hammell were already in the side at the time.
“It was a great club to be at. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Motherwell. Being a local lad as well it was great to play for your local club.
“Looking back on it, we had players breaking into the Scotland team, the [Scottish Cup] semi-final at Hampden against Rangers; the place was buzzing at the time.”
Pearson’s fine form didn’t go unnoticed, and the long-rumoured move to Celtic finally materialised after Martin O’Neill lodged a £350,000 bid in January 2004.
He settled into the side immediately, playing in the team that eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Cup, starting in the Scottish Cup Final and capping off a fine season with the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” said Pearson.
“You ask any kid and they’ll tell you they want to play for the team they supported and I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity.
“When I went in there, there were a lot of big-name players at the club, so it was a difficult thing to do in terms of going into a dressing room with all those characters, but on the pitch it was very easy to play alongside that quality of player.
“It was a dream start to my Celtic career, and the first 6 to 8 months I couldn’t have asked to have gone any better.”
Alas, the dream start was not to continue for Pearson, and a period on the sidelines following groin surgery saw his first-team chances at Parkhead restricted.
“You train every day and you want to get something at the end of it, so there just came a point where I was getting a bit older and had to be playing regularly for my career,” said Pearson.
“It was a difficult decision leaving Celtic, but I wouldn’t say I regretted it as I’ve went on to have a good career myself. But it’s always difficult to leave a club the size of Celtic, because nine times out of ten the only way you’re going to go is down.
“It was a great experience to be at Celtic, I fulfilled a lot of boyhood dreams there and I can always look back on it with fond memories.”
Famously, the Motherwell lad went on to score the so-called ‘£60million goal’, the winning strike in the Championship play-off that took Derby County to the Premiership. Now recuperating following ankle surgery at Bristol City, he is targeting a January comeback.
With his contract expiring in the summer though, he doesn’t discount the possibility of following the path of some notable Fir Park alumni in one day returning to the club where it all began.
“You can never rule anything out, and I’m coming to the twilight years of my career now, but ideally I would like to stay in England for a year or two or even try playing abroad for a couple of years, so we’ll just see what happens from there.”
Article: Graeme McGarry (vs Celtic Matchday Magazine)
Picture: Bristol City FC
Over the past ten weeks, Motherwell Football Club Community Trust have been delivering a Health and Wellbeing programme called ‘It’s a Goal!’ to eight participants from the local area who are currently living with mental health issues.
The programme, which was funded by Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health, gave the participants the opportunity to improve their fitness and boost their self-esteem as well as providing an opportunity to talk about their problems in a comfortable familiar environment.
Throughout the ten weeks, the participants enjoyed input on improved lifestyle choices such as healthy eating, alcohol awareness and fitness sessions carried by the Community Trust staff.
The final weeks of the course saw an enjoyable trip to Hampden Park and a celebration of the participant’s achievements.
Graeme McArthur, Programme Development Manager, at Motherwell Football Club Community Trust added: “It’s a Goal has been a very enjoyable programme to deliver with a very engaging group taking part.
“The guys were always motive and determined. They should be really proud of their effort and achievements.
“I would like to wish them all the very best for their future and I hope this programme can have a positive impact on their lives and wellbeing.”