Motherwell’s bold decision to hold on to striker Louis Moult rather than cash in on the 25-year-old during the last transfer window continues to reap dividends for the Lanarkshire club.
The Englishman, who had been the subject of interest from Aberdeen and Rangers during the summer, notched his eighth and ninth goals of the season in the 3-0 win over Aberdeen in Thursday’s Betfred Cup quarter-finals and he aims to reach double figures when the Dons return to Fir Park on league duty tomorrow lunchtime.
Manager Derek McInnes struggled to find an explanation for his side’s passive performance in that defeat but doubted that Moult had been attempting to teach him a lesson. “He plays like that every week,” he said. “That’s why I wanted to sign him but we couldn’t afford the fee.”
It is understood that Aberdeen were quoted £600,000 for the player, who is in the final year of his contract. However, the Motherwell supporters who sang his name on Thursday evening would have you believe he is priceless.
Manager Steven Robinson, is trying to persuade him to sign a new deal but Moult does not wish to look so far forward (“I’ll play it by ear”). The chances are he will leave next year but he would love to achieve legendary status with the Steelmen by capturing the trophy for the first time since 1951 before he departs.
They will face Rangers in the semi-final next month but, after winning nine of their 12 matches in league and cup, confidence is high.
“It would be unbelievable for myself and the club,” he said. “The football club deserves a little bit of success. The fans deserve it more than anything; they turn up to every game and their support at the end just epitomises what this club is all about.
“It would mean the absolute world to me to help them achieve something here. Even the word ‘legend’ means so much to me and my family. I’ll try my absolute hardest to help this club to get there.
“It would be massive but we believed we could beat Aberdeen and I believe we can win the cup.”
For Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie, the only consolation after their cup exit was that they have a chance to avenge that defeat immediately and he stressed that no other outcome will be acceptable.
“It’s a good thing we are back there so quickly,” said the 26-year-old, left. “Sometimes football throws up these things and we’re glad to get another go at them.
“We have to recover from Thursday, look at where we went wrong and come back to Fir Park ready to do better.
“We don’t want to go three league matches without a win; we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few seasons and we have to keep that going.”
Aberdeen had fallen behind leaders Celtic by drawing with Kilmarnock at home and Hearts in Edinburgh prior to their cup exit and Shinnie says a positive response to the latest disappointment is essential.
“This was a massive wake-up call for the whole team,” he claimed. “We can’t just turn up and expect to win.
“We have great ability in the squad and players we know can win games for us. But first you have to work hard for each other and fight for each other; if you do that then the other parts of it come through afterwards.
“We haven’t had many of these results in my time at Aberdeen but it doesn’t make it any easier. It simply wasn’t good enough from anyone in the team, from me right through to everyone else. I don’t think anyone got pass marks and we know it wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
“When so many of you have an off day you know it will turn out like that and that’s what happened. Motherwell wanted it more than us. You hope that is never the case but it was and that’s what makes it so frustrating.
“If anyone is left out of the next game nobody can complain about it because, all over the pitch, Motherwell were better than us.”