MOTHER­WELL

Evening Times - - FOOTBALL: SCOTTISH PREMIERSHI­P -

GRAEME McGARRY

HE sober­ing de­feat to lo­cal ri­vals Hamil­ton on Sun­day may have taken some of the fizz out of the New Year cel­e­bra­tions for Mother­well sup­port­ers, but Stephen Robin­son is try­ing to en­sure there is cause for cham­pagne corks to be pop­ping come the end of the sea­son at Fir Park.

Af­ter a ster­ling 2019 for the club, in which only Celtic and Rangers ac­crued more points than the Steel­men, Robin­son’s men sit in third place in the ta­ble with fans dream­ing of Euro­pean foot­ball mak­ing a re­turn to La­nark­shire.

As is tra­di­tional at this time of year, Robin­son has been re­flect­ing on his ten­ure to this point, and he has warned that the real hard work starts now to not only con­sol­i­date Mother­well’s place in the higher reaches of the Premier­ship, but to con­tinue mov­ing the club for­ward both on and off the pitch.

“Mother­well have given me time and they have worked with me over my time here,” Robin­son said. “We were sec­ond bot­tom when I came into the job and we man­aged to stay in the league. We gave them a lot of suc­cess in my first full sea­son here by reach­ing two cup fi­nals.

“The start of the sec­ond year was harder, be­fore we changed things around and got mov­ing again and we are do­ing okay this sea­son. I am lucky we have peo­ple here with re­al­ism, they don’t live in fantasy land.

“When I first ar­rived, we had a lot of age­ing play­ers and a lot of them were all club le­gends. That made it a tough de­ci­sion to move some of them on. We blooded a lot of young play­ers in my time here, made a lot of money in terms of trans­fers and ul­ti­mately man­aged to clear the debts.

“The way I see it though is the hard work starts now. No one can rest on their lau­rels. The board are driven, so are the Well So­ci­ety as are the staff and my­self. Now is the time if we sell some­one, get to the top six, or have an­other cup run, then we can rein­vest that into the club.

“The struc­ture, train­ing ground and acad­emy needs im­proved, and we are still do­ing okay within that. I al­ways

Tthink ‘what could we do if we keep push­ing?’ That’s the aim.”

For now, Robin­son’s main fo­cus is to get his play­ers back what they do best, af­ter feel­ing they fell short of the stan­dards they have set them­selves in terms of the ‘ba­sics’ against Hamil­ton. Guard­ing against com­pla­cency, and sup­port­ers get­ting car­ried away, will be two of Robin­son’s main goals for the start of 2020.

“It is dif­fi­cult to man­age ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said. “I hear peo­ple talk­ing about look­ing out their pass­ports and things, but we are still early in the sea­son. I would love that to hap­pen but my goal is to try and im­prove the play­ers ev­ery day and noth­ing else.

“I am not even look­ing at Europe, I will just keep look­ing at the four game blocks and go from there. We will do the same again this month as we have so far this sea­son and try to build on it.

“We can’t af­ford to get car­ried away with where we are. I spoke to a Cham­pi­onship man­ager in

Eng­land re­cently and they said when you start get­ting a bit of suc­cess you stop do­ing the things that made you suc­cess­ful. We have to make sure we keep work­ing on small tar­gets and keep do­ing the right things to ul­ti­mately bring us suc­cess.

“If you are a boy that can run, then keep run­ning. Don’t start com­ing to­wards the ball. If you are a drib­bler, don’t think you are a tack­ler, do what you are good at and do it even bet­ter.”

Mother­well de­part for a warm weather train­ing camp to Tener­ife on Tues­day, and Robin­son is hop­ing that some of his in­jured play­ers can use the trip to step up their come­back bids.

“Charles Dunne and David Turn­bull are mak­ing good progress,” he said. “They will come with us on the win­ter break to step things up. I am hop­ing Charles will be fit for the first game af­ter the break [against Dundee in the Scot­tish Cup] but we won’t put a timescale on David. We will make sure he is 100-per-cent right.”

Stephen Robin­son in­sists Mother­well will con­tinue to re­main calm

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