Stuart McCall has reaffirmed his belief in the players and backed them to turn Motherwell’s season around.
The Steelmen enjoyed one of their most memorable wins of recent years when they triumphed at Pittodrie on the final day of last season to snatch second place in the Scottish Premiership from their hosts.
But they return to the north-east second from bottom in the standings after an indifferent start to the campaign got even worse in the past few weeks with three consecutive league defeats.
McCall knows his team have to retain belief in their ability if they are to avoid getting dragged further down, and he has told them to be mentally strong on Friday night.
“The message is ‘stick together and dig deep’,” he said. “I’ve been in runs like this before and it might take an own goal or a debatable penalty decision or whatever it is just to get out of it.
“I’ve got great belief in those players. We’ve got leaders in that dressing room. We have character and great quality. They have shown that season after season and I think it’s time we all stand up and be counted.”
McCall is one of Motherwell’s most successful manager in league competition since the Second World War, so he is on new territory at Fir Park as he looks to ride out the storm.
“I hate losing, no matter what I do, so the run we are on is difficult,” he said.
[pullquote]”I’ve got great belief in those players. We’ve got leaders in that dressing room. We have character and great quality. They have shown that season after season and I think it’s time we all stand up and be counted.[/pullquote]
“But bigger and better managers than me have been through it, so you have just got to believe in yourself. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, people within the club and other people in football.
“Everyone goes through periods like this and it’s how quickly you can come out of them. It’s a test of character.
“As you can see from the bags, you sleep less and your mind is always on it. But I always put myself under pressure to succeed and that’s how I always will be.
“But I’ve got belief in the lads and we have to be strong. We can’t be fearful of losing – we’ve got to relish the challenge of being winners again. That’s the challenge – to get the bit between our teeth – and we have to rise to that.”
Motherwell won at Pittodrie in May, when Craig Reid netted the only goal in stoppage time after a turgid 90 minutes, and, although McCall would not complain about a repeat, he recognises they might have to play better.
“I’ve watched the last two minutes of that game 1000 times but I never watched the game back until this week,” he said.
“We defended really well, which we will need to do again, but we didn’t play particularly well. The bottom line was the result and this might be the case (on Friday) night.
“We’ve lost 10 goals in three games, which is unlike us. We need to defend better, but all round we need to improve. Going to Pittodrie, as difficult as it might be, might be the kick-start we need.”