Subscribe to the Totally Scottish Football Show here…
With all the news and half-developments that have been swirling for the last few weeks, about coronavirus in general and whether football will return from it, you’d forgive Liam Donnelly for switching off from it.
Donnelly wasn’t really following things on Monday, but then the texts started coming in, congratulating him. At that point he decided he’d better have a look, which is when he learned that the Scottish Premiership season had been curtailed, and his Motherwell side were confirmed as finishing in third place, and thus claiming a Europa League spot for next season.
“It’s a great achievement for the club and everyone involved,” the defender tells the Totally Scottish Football Show. “We haven’t really known what was going to happen in the last few weeks. It’s not been the outcome that any of us wanted, not being able to play the games, but obviously we’re delighted we’ve still got the third place. If that had been taken away from us we would’ve been much less happy about things.”
Motherwell’s position was confirmed using average points to determine the final positions in the Scottish Premiership, but does not being able to play the remaining fixtures lessen the achievement at all?
“Not at all. It’s a massive achievement. We like to think that if the games had been finished as we’d liked, then we would’ve still held on to third place anyway. It’s fully deserved from our performances throughout the season.
“It’s a difficult situation. I know some of the other leagues in other countries have started coming back, but health is first and foremost. I know the fans would’ve wanted to games to be played, but I think it was a sensible decision. That’s not to say I or any of the other lads are happy that we aren’t going to play the rest of the games.”
The Europa League, then. Does Donnelly fancy Motherwell’s chances on the continent?
“Absolutely,” he said, definitively.
“When we started the season I don’t think anybody expected us to finish in third, or be pushing for a European place, but we started quite well and as the season went on we altered our expectations and our expectations grew, certainly within the club. All the lads are going to be buzzing about possibly taking the stage in the Europa League. It could be a big opposition we’re drawn against.”
Motherwell’s attractive style of play, implemented by manager Stephen Robinson, might actually suit playing in Europe better than, say, Aberdeen’s more direct approach.
“Towards last Christmas time we weren’t in a great position in the league. So the manager and staff took it upon themselves to change the style of play. The winter break came at a good time so we could work on how we wanted to play.
“It’s worked really well: the second half of last season we finished strongly, and that’s carried on even more this season. It’s an exciting brand of football, the fans enjoy watching it and the players enjoy playing it too. It’s probably better playing that way against some of the European teams.”
You can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Scottish Football Show here, and even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.