MOTHERWELL completed a notable coup last night when Scotland international James McFadden returned to the club at which he made a name for himself as a teenager.
Former Everton forward McFadden, 29, who has been training with Stuart McCall’s team for the past few days, has signed a short-term deal until the end of the season, although he may be left out of this evening’s SPL clash at home to Dundee United.
“I am really pleased to be back here at Motherwell,” McFadden told MFC TV. “I need to get back playing competitive first-team football and this is the best place for me. The team are flying high near the top of the table, but I hope I can add something to that over the next few months.”
McCall is delighted to land the player at the second attempt following the expiry of his short-term contract with Sunderland. McFadden, whose career has stalled after a cruciate knee injury, was offered a temporary deal by Motherwell at the start of the season but the opportunity to resume his career in the Barclays Premier League saw the player return south.
He made only three substitute appearances for Sunderland and manager Martin O’Neill decided against extending the contract until the end of the season, meaning McFadden, who has started only three competitive fixtures since September 2010, was a free agent once again.
Hours before his signing was announced, McCall had insisted that he wouldn’t ask McFadden about his intentions until after the clash with United. But last night the manager explained how McFadden had requested a meeting, and an agreement was quickly reached.
“I was adamant that I wouldn’t speak to James until the United game was past, but at three o’clock James came to see me and asked if we could work something out,” said McCall. “We spoke to one another for about 15-20 minutes and he clearly wanted to get something done. He and I just spoke about football. There was no mention of money or anything else.
“I explained everything to him from my point and he accepts that we’re second in the table, we’re going well and he might have to wait for his chance to play. But he’s very accepting of that situation. He knows the players who’ve been in the team have done a fantastic job getting us to where we are. He’s a top player, he’s got great ability and he knows that it’s up him to take his chance when it comes along. He’s hungry and he’s focussed – James is in better shape now than he was when he was training with us at the start of the season.
“But I’d emphasise that he hasn’t played a lot of football in the past 12-18 months and people have to keep that in mind.
“I’m not involved in the finances at all. That’s not my area. I had to go to a managers’ meeting at Perth and it was when I came out of that I got a message that everything had been agreed. But he’s a welcome addition to the squad and I’m now looking forward to him having the opportunity of showing what he can do for Motherwell.”
McFadden’s return to his first club will also delight Motherwell fans, who saw him score 31 goals in 58 starts during his first spell at Fir Park before his £1.25 million move to Goodison in September 2003.
After winning 48 Scotland caps and scoring 15 goals, he will also be keen to try to catch the eye of new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.