They’ll be facing a team in a different financial ‘stratosphere’ – but Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson says his team will embrace being the underdogs in Europa League competition.
The Steelmen are in Israel on Thursday night to contest a Europa League third round qualifier with Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva. It’s a tie set in motion after victories over Northern Irish pair Glentoran and Coleraine.
In those matches they were favourites, but in this one, it’s Motherwell who are looking to cause an upset. A team no stranger to European competition, Be’er Sheva will prove extremely difficult opposition for Robinson and his team.
But for the Northern Irishman, being the underdog is something they know how to deal with very well. He says his side go with everything to gain and nothing to lose against Be’er Sheva.
“We are under no illusions about the level of opposition and financially they are in a different stratosphere, but that doesn’t always win football matches,” Robinson said. “They are a very strong team, and they have strong individuals. They have three players we have identified who can really hurt you.
“But we are going with a game plan. We went to Aberdeen with a game plan that worked very well. We’ll go with a different game plan and there’s a real positive mindset around the club.
“We have quietly gone about our business and picked up results in different ways and shown a real amount of character. We are going to need that again over there and we are going to need to stick to our game plan and hope individuals do what they did on Sunday and come to the fore and take their opportunities.
“We are not going with any kind of fear. We are going there quietly thinking we can get a result and why not? What have we got to lose? With the quality of player they have got, we will be underdogs. We do well when we are underdogs at times.
“People criticised us early in the season and we got a bit of a mentality to prove everybody wrong. Let people think we are underdogs and we will go and give it everything.”
If you include last Thursday’s 120 minute thriller with Coleraine, which the Steelmen won 3-0 on penalties after a 2-2 draw, it’s been a great run of matches for Motherwell. Aberdeen at Pittodrie would follow after their last Europa League match, tomorrow’s contest in Israel to have a meeting with Rangers waiting after that.
It could go on to be five huge games in succession if they win in Israel, Viktoria Plzen or SønderjyskE to come at Fir Park in Europa League play-off competition on October 1 should Be’er Sheva be defeated.
It’s nice for Robinson to be testing himself in massive games like the ones Motherwell have and will face: “Football is a strange game. One week ago we were the worst team in the world and I was the worst manager in the world.
“Now I’m not the best manager in the world and we aren’t the best players in the world, but football turns around so quickly. That’s why you can’t let the negative voices get to you because they are only a small minority.
“There are a lot of people that live and die for this football club that know what we are about. We’ve got a mentality here that we keep doing what we are doing, tweaking things as we go. The week ahead is fantastic.
“We started it very well with a win against Aberdeen and we go into this game quietly confident before another big game against Rangers. It’s better than playing friendly games and non-league clubs, we want to play these teams and test ourselves to the limit.
“What gives me the buzz is the technical side of the game and it’s good to pit your wits against top managers. We did against Derek McInnes, we’ll do it against Be’er Sheva and we’ll do it again with Steven Gerrard and Rangers.
“You’re dealing with top, top managers and it’s certainly a test. As a football club we probably aren’t equipped to play every Sunday and Thursday but we are certainly reveling in it at the moment.”