There’s a return to Europe on the horizon – but Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson says his side’s full focus is on the Lanarkshire derby.
The Well will face Glentoran next Thursday in Europa League qualifying following the Northern Irish side’s 1-0 win over HB Torshavn. It’s a side that Robinson knows well, having worked with many of those associated with the team from his homeland. Before that though, Motherwell meet Hamilton at Fir Park in a very important game for the Steelmen.
Chasing their first win of the season, Robinson will aim to build on last week’s positive 0-0 draw away to Hibs with a win over an Accies side who have lost their first three matches. Europa League action against familiar faces is something he’s looking forward to, but the Well boss is determined to beat Accies first.
“I got a few messages last night but I’ve tried to ignore them all and concentrate solely on Saturday, and then we’ll start worrying about things on Sunday,” said Robinson of Glentoran. “I have probably worked with about 80/90 per cent of the players from Glentoran for the international set-ups and youth set-ups.
“Some of them have changed a wee bit, haircuts and got a bit bigger and things like that as well but I know a lot about them. I know that will be competitive and that it will be a physical game but there’s decent quality there as well.
“So, we will turn our attention to that on Saturday night, straight after the Accies game but first and foremost we are going out to win the game on Saturday.
“It’s a good eight days, that’s what you’re in football for. We won’t underestimate Brian or his team in any shape or form. We will have to be at our best to win the game. It is going to be a tough game. Any time you play Hamilton, nothing is easy. They don’t give you anything. You have to earn the right to play football.”
“I’ve said that numerous times there’s nothing (between the teams) in this league, nothing at all. You seen the game last night (St Johnstone 0-1 Aberdeen), there’s nothing between the two sides, sometimes a bit of fortune or something goes your way. Accies have been exactly the same, they had good performances without getting the results.”
Blocks of four and supporter returns
Robinson often spoke last season of taking games in blocks of four. Whilst the opening four games this season haven’t brought about the points Motherwell may have liked, there have certainly been positives for the Well manager to take into the next set of four and beyond.
That’s how Robinson is looking at it as his side push for more points on the board, with a potential return for fans in next week’s trip to Celtic Park something he’s also hoping for
“We didn’t get the points we wanted. Three of the four performances were good, everything is dictated by results in football,” said Robinson. “We haven’t been ruthless enough in the opposition box and that’s what we have to change.
“I’m not going to change my style of play or my ethos in what I want to do. But we have to turn those good performances and possession into results. The first block of four wasn’t enough points-wise but there were lots of positives for me as a manager in terms of the play. But now the next aim is to start turning them into three points.
“There’s no atmosphere, obviously, and the intensity seems to be a little bit down. If you aren’t getting a crowd encouraging you or reminding you of what you should be doing, then it’s difficult.
“We are getting used to it but we don’t want to get used to it too long. I’m hearing some fans may be encouraged to be in the ground for the Celtic game. If that’s done within safe parameters, then that would be fantastic.”