Steve Robinson's Motherwell target is fortress Fir Park
Steve Robinson’s men will be unrecognisable from the side of last year in today’s first Premiership outing. So too must the results they register in Lanarkshire.
Motherwell flirted with disaster for the second time in three season in the last league campaign, principally because their home form was abysmal. So much so, in fact, eventual bottom club Inverness Caledonian Thistle dropped out of the top flight having amassed five more points from within their own environs than Robinson’s side.
It is easy to see what must be the immediate priority to arrest a slide that cost Mark McGhee his job.
New club captain Carl McHugh makes no bones about the fact that Motherwell’s home form “has to change”.
“When teams come to Fir Park they have to know that they are in for a tough game. We have been preaching that from day one of pre-season. It wasn’t that last season – too many times teams came and picked up points too easily. We have spoken about it. Everyone realises the home form was not good enough. I know it’s a cliché but you want to make your ground a fortress, somewhere that other teams don’t like coming. We will be trying to do that starting on Sunday.”
Decent displays in the Betfred Cup have engendered an optimism among the Fir Park faithful that a new team can knit together quickly. Irishman, McHugh, “proud” to wear the armband at the age of 24, would say the signs are there this can be the case.
“There has been big turnover of players and hopefully we can have a more successful season. We want to be kicking on, we don’t want to be down scrapping for our lives with three or four games to go.
“The boys that have been here all have to help the new boys integrate and settle in off the pitch as much as anything. They seem to have fitted in quickly and there is a good spirit in there already.
“Everyone is striving for the same thing. All the players that have been brought in are hungry, they have a point to prove and are at a stage in their career where they want to kick on. It’s a big number of players in but the manager obviously felt we needed a change from last season and he has put his stamp on it.”
Most of the media’s focus will be on Rangers this afternoon but Robinson is determined to ensure his team are not a sideshow.
Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha spoke of being in the best moment since he took over at Ibrox after his team recorded a training-ground win over Watford and a friendly victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
But Motherwell warmed up for the league opener with four consecutive wins in the Betfred Cup and the Fir Park manager wants his team to kick on.
“They have got two good results in pre-season games but we have got four good results in competitive games,” Robinson said. “So we go into the game extremely confident.
“We are not just going to turn up and roll over. All I ever hear about is Rangers this and Rangers that. We are there to make a right game of it and hopefully win the match.”