A QUICK glance at the Clydesdale Bank Premier League table suggests that Motherwell and Rangers are relatively close together. It is only when the two clubs have shared a football pitch this season that you realised just how far apart they are.
The Fir Park club are sat just three points behind Rangers ahead of their meeting this afternoon, yet the simple fact Motherwell Keith Lasley returns for Motherwell after he served a two-match ban have failed to defeat the troubled Glasgow side on their previous 36 attempts would seem to offer little hope of that narrow gap being closed. It has been a source of frustration to supporters – not to mention Stuart Mccall, the Motherwell manager – that they have tended to struggle against the Old Firm this season, despite an auspicious rise towards the upper echelons of the league table.
“What is for certain is we will have to play better than we have against Rangers this season, we are probably the worst side they have played,” said Mccall, whose side lost 3-0 the last time they met at Fir Park. “To break that hoodoo we need to perform to a level against them that we haven’t managed, the level of performance we have shown this season has been terrific on most occasions but against Rangers it simply hasn’t been there. I can promise the performance [today] will be a good one.”
Rangers will arrive still buoyed by their 3-2 win in last Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox. Mccall believes that the return of players such as Kyle Lafferty and Steven Whittaker will also come as a big boost.
Motherwell will welcome back an influential figure of their own, though, with Keith Lasley returning from a twomatch suspension. “Rangers will be as strong a side as they have been for a very long time given the number of players they have back from injury,” said Mccall.
“There is no doubt that they have good players and a good squad so it will be difficult. I have a great deal of confidence in my squad too, though, and I know we can make things difficult for any side visiting Fir Park.”
Following a run of good results for both St Johnstone and Dundee United in recent weeks, Motherwell’s position in third place has been made a little less comfortable, with the Perth club just five points behind. With the team in third likely to be rewarded with a place in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, Mccall insists his side must regain their focus.
“We can’t affect anyone else’s results until we play,” he said. “We are fighting for a European slot. I am confident that we have enough quality that we can earn enough points to give ourselves a good chance.”