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Manager speaks ahead of St Johnstone
Tuesday 11 February 2020
Stephen Robinson discussed facing St Johnstone, the form of Mark O’Hara, the emergence of Tony Watt and the impact of the club clearing its debts when he spoke to the broadcast media on Tuesday.
Here’s what the Motherwell boss had to say.
On training being affected by Storm Ciara
We’ve had to train inside. Obviously you saw the game on Saturday turned into a little bit of a farce in the second half, to be honest, in terms of the conditions.
But credit to both sets of players. Both teams tried to win it. I thought we had two great chances to win the game as well. But we’ll go again next Tuesday.
Obviously training has been affected. We’ve had to train indoors at Ravenscraig yesterday and again this morning. But it doesn’t affect preparations. It just affects where you have to train.
On Mark O’Hara
Mark’s suffered unfortunately from the form of the midfield three. The four boys fighting for three spots are arguably my best trainers every day and the most consistent players at the club.
I can rotate that midfield three without it having too much of an effect. And I have to because if you see the stats, they do a lot of running for our front boys who get the credit for it.
We have to rotate it a little bit. But I don’t think we need wholesale changes. I think there’s a lot of good stuff and other people have to wait their chances like Mark has done. And when he’s got in, he’s certainly taken it.
On Tony Watt
Tony got 10 minutes in the hurricane and he played another 45 minutes in the reserves yesterday. I think he’s still a couple of weeks away from being fully sharp and fully fit.
When you haven’t played for a little while, obviously it takes its toll. So at the moment, he’ll be involved from the bench and hopefully gives a spark when he comes on and we’ll continue to work over the next couple of weeks.
There’s a lot of games coming so, he may get a start coming very soon. But we still need to make sure his sharpness and understanding of what we want from him as well gets better as the weeks progress.
On St Johnstone
They’ve gone on a decent run. They’ve got similar players still and they’ve a similar style. They’ve not changed their style, they’re not changed the way they play.
They’re a tough team to play against. They put balls down the side of you. They’ll be aggressive in midfield and they are on a good run and so they’ll go into the game with confidence.
But again, we go in sitting in third place. We’ve got to go in, believe in what we do and try stamp the way we play on the game.
On the club clearing its debts
It’s massive for the football club. You’re always having things hanging over your head and every time we sold a player or we got to a cup final, it was always, well, we have to pay off the debts again.
Now it’s the time to build again. To invest in the playing squad, the infrastructure, the ground, the training ground.
Our training ground and our academy, as much as we’ve done so well from it, it needs to be upgraded massively to continue to try and attract players and go forward.
As a manager, I won’t stand still. I want to keep trying to push the club forward. Alan Burrows wants to keep pushing the club forward, as do the board.
I’m sure they’ll have a plan for the next five or 10 years. They’ve done what they said. Fantastic credit to everybody involved.
As a football club, we’ve made a lot of money from selling players and been relatively successful on the pitch as well, backed by the Well Society.
So it’s now time to move on. It’s now time to start building again and trying to keep the club where it is and, within our means, keep building.
I’ve got a very good relationship with the board and the chairman. I know the parameters. We aren’t going to change that we get 4,000-4,500 people coming.
I’d love to get more money to spend on players. But I also know the reality of the situation. We can’t take the club back into debt again. My budget won’t change. It’ll stay exactly the same. That’s what it is. It’s not something that they’ve sold me something and taken it away. That’s what it is.
What I will say as we have to invest into the youth setup more. We have to invest in the infrastructure more and keep building on that.
As I say, the [playing] budget might go up and down by a few hundred pounds, but it’s not going to change massively. We are what we are, and we live within our means, and we’ve been very successful doing it.
On the emergence of more young talent
I think it might take a little while for them to come through again. But we’ve got boys in the background I think will come next season. I don’t think they’ll come this season if I’m being honest. I think they need another six months of football. Some we’ve put out on loan, some we are keeping here to develop.
Youth players come in cycles. You get a really good three or four years and then it sometimes takes another year or two for the next cycle to come through.
Speaking to Steven Hammell, I know we’ve got a really good squad, particularly at under 14 level. So if I’m still here at the time they come through into the first team, I will be absolutely delighted.
But we’ve got Dean Cornelius, Ross MacIver, David Devine, Jamie Semple, David Turnbull who is coming back again. We’ve got younger boys that are training with us all the time and we’ll continue to push them this as a football club.
At this football club, if you’re good enough, you’ll play. Simple. If you’re not in the team as a young player, you’re probably not doing it yet or you’re not ready yet.
So we will continue to put them in and keep searching for those people that we’re finding from England as well.
Watch a live stream of St Johnstone v Motherwell
Tuesday 11 February 2020
There’s a live stream and live audio available from St Johnstone v Motherwell on Wednesday night.
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The match will be played on Tuesday 18 February with a 7.45pm kick off.
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Motherwell Football Club has now cleared all of its outstanding external debt.
A final payment of around £80,000 has been made to five individuals who invested in the club in November. The balance has been settled following the transfer of James Scott to Hull City on 31 January.
Over £2m of debt has now been cleared in three years. Motherwell FC now operates with zero external debt and – for the first time in 40 years – will work with no fixed or floating charges over Fir Park Stadium to external parties.
“When we made the full and final payments to Mr John Boyle and Mr Les Hutchison late last year, we did so by swapping a small amount of their debt with an investment from a small number of lifelong Motherwell fans close to the club,” Motherwell FC chairman Jim McMahon said.
“We were confident that this would be repaid in a timeous fashion, so it is very satisfying that we have managed to do so in less than three months.
“The aim of both the club and Well Society boards, following the transition to fan ownership, was to ensure we got ourselves to this position, as it is vital for the long-term health and prosperity of Motherwell Football Club.
“Together, both boards are now working on what the key strategic priorities should be for the next five to ten years.”
Reserves & Under 18s
Reserves lose at Queen of the South
Monday 10 February 2020
Motherwell lost out 4-2 at Queen of the South in the SPFL Reserve League on Monday.
Jamie Hamilton netted a hat-trick for the hosts, with Tony Watt netting for the Steelmen during a 45-minute first-half appearance.
Callum Semple’s header from a corner to make it four compounded the result in the second half, before Ross MacIver grabbed a late consolation goal.
Several first-team players got the opportunity to get game time at Palmerston Park.
Christian Ilic and MacIver featured alongside Watt, while Barry Maguire made a return after a spell out with an ankle injury.
It took Queen of the South nine minutes to get in front. Hamilton got to the left corner of the box and fired home to open the scoring.
MacIver then missed a penalty for the visitors, before Watt headed in a cross from a trialist to send in Motherwell level at the break.
Eight minutes into the second half, Queens were back in front. Hamilton headed in a cross to make it 2-1, and he would be handed the chance to get his hat-trick soon after.
Two minutes later, he stepped up to send the ball past PJ Morrison from the spot to claim his third of the afternoon.
MacIver then got Motherwell’s second with eight minutes left on the clock, putting the ball into the corner of the net from a through ball.