Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson says kickstarting the Well’s season is of more importance than the thought of a reunion with old friends in the Europa League.
Livingston are the visitors at Fir Park tomorrow as the Well look to claim their first points of the season following 1-0 defeats to Ross County and Dundee United. Prior to the meeting with Gary Holt’s men, they were given their Europa League first qualifying round fate and it’s brought about a familiar side for Robinson.
They will either play HB Torshavn of the Faroe Islands or Glentoran of Northern Ireland, Robinson’s homeland. It’s a club he knows very well but Robinson insists that all focus must be on the league ahead of their run in Europe.
“I’ve concentrated solely on tomorrow night,” said Robinson of the Europa League draw. “In the background of course it’s exciting. It would be great to play Glentoran. I know a lot of the players and manager and that would be exciting. But first and foremost we concentrate on Livingston, a really tough game, and then hitting a bit of form before we go into that.
“I know Stephen Craigan is a fan so that’ll be neutral on commentary if he’s doing it! It’s a few weeks away yet though. Our motivation is to get points, we’ve been very unfortunate and I’m not sure what else can go against us in terms of injuries, missing penalties, missing from three and four yards out.
“It’s not the start we wanted. I’ve said it numerous times, you lose you’re the worst manager in the world, you win and you should be managing Barcelona. There’s no in-between but there has to be, there’s too much good stuff on the pitch for us to not start winning games. There are bits we have to be better; we have to be more clinical. Teams are coming and playing against us with a real respect, sitting in and hitting us on the counter which never used to happen. We need to create more opportunities.
“It just hasn’t happened but if we keep creating we’ll get those goalscoring opportunities. We will score goals and we will turn the corner. There has to be a positivity around the place and there is. The players are fully committed to getting those first three points on the board.”
Whilst the weekend defeat to Dundee United was disappointing for the Well boss, there was a personal moment of pride. He was able to hand his own son, Harry Robinson, his debut during the game as he looked to get a result. A winger, the young Well prospect has played in pre-season and now his dad has handed him competitive minutes.
It’s a challenge at times for his dad but insists there will be no preferential treatment handed out: “It’s hard because I seem to find more faults with him than anybody else. When we sit in the staff room, the staff say he deserves a chance or deserves to sit on the bench. I always just see the negatives or bad points in him. But it is quite difficult for me, I don’t think he finds it too difficult.
“He doesn’t really pay much attention to me; we don’t really speak to each other much at home! That bit is easy but of course it’s a good moment for him. He’s got a long way to go, he’s been treated like everyone else. If he does well, he’ll get an opportunity, if he doesn’t, he won’t play.”
Into the defensive market
Motherwell have again been hit with a long-term defensive injury ahead of a game. Last week it was Nathan McGinley’s problem that has ruled him out until after the international break, now it’s a knee injury for utility man Liam Donnelly.
Capable of playing anywhere across the back-four and in the middle of the park, he will miss at least two months of action after initial hopes he’d be ok for the match with Livingston. Robinson says it means he will have to go looking for someone at left-back.
“We’ve been told he could be out for a minimum of two months,” said the Well boss of Donnelly’s injury. “That gives me a problem. We’ve got injury problems at the back.
“Ricki played at left-back and played well. Bevis got his first competitive game in a long, long time. We are actively looking to get somebody in in the defensive positions. What’s available at this time of the season is virtually nothing in terms of really good quality. It’s virtually few and far between because England aren’t playing, people haven’t played since March in the lower leagues.
“We need someone to come in and hit the ground running until Nathan McGinley or Jake Carroll are fit with a minimal amount of money to spend. That reduces it down to a needle in haystack really. Charles will be longer, we’re hoping to have Jake back start of/middle of October.
“McGinley will be after the international break so it’s a short-term problem and if everyone stays fit we can cope with it. If we get another injury it’s something that could cause me a problem.”