Carl McHugh: Team spirit and momentum key to Motherwell success

Carl McHugh believes the Betfred Cup has been hugely beneficial to Motherwell. Picture: SNS.
Carl McHugh believes the Betfred Cup has been hugely beneficial to Motherwell. Picture: SNS.
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Motherwell skipper Carl McHugh believes his team’s run in the Betfred Cup has helped forge a team spirit and build enough momentum to overcome Rangers.

The Fir Park side have scored 18 goals in the competition since kicking off their season at Hampden against Queen’s Park in July and they go back to the national stadium tomorrow aiming to book another visit there in the Betfred Cup final.

McHugh feels the competition has been hugely beneficial. “We had four games in the group which were massively beneficial for us,” said McHugh. “We got to gel, help the new players bed in. Rather than playing meaningless friendlies we were playing competitive games.

“We followed that up. We had a great result at Ross County. We were down to 10 men and won in extra-time, Ross MacLean came on and scored a great goal. It’s been about the squad all season. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the goal he scored, and other players played in earlier rounds.

“We had a great performance as well against Aberdeen, and hopefully we can take that momentum into Sunday.”

McHugh was part of the Bradford squad which had a similar team spirit and shocked English football to reach the League Cup final in 2013. The Irishman scored in Bradford’s semi-final win over Aston Villa as the bottom-tier club set up a Wembley final against Swansea, which they lost 5-0.

“We had a similar group to this year,” recalled the 24-year-old. “It was a real honest group, hard-working players. We just all wanted to progress and we had no fear. We played Arsenal, Wigan were in the Premier League, Aston Villa over two legs and we had no fear, we just went out and played our game. It was a great run, but ideally you want to win a cup when you get to the final.”

McHugh believes the ethos developed by manager Stephen Robinson has been a crucial factor in Motherwell’s fantastic record of 11 wins from 15 competitive matches.

“The manager has to take a lot of the credit. He has completely changed the attitude in the club, the work ethic, and he has brought good characters and players in as well,” said the former Plymouth player.

“We have really gelled off the park and there is a real desire in the squad to get better every day, work hard in training and listen to the manager.

“We really run hard for each other, we scrap for each other. If you do that and leave everything out there, you give yourself a great chance.”