Blogs & Opinion

Andy Walker salutes Stuart McCall and Motherwell in SPL

Features - Andy Walker Posted 23rd April 2013 view comments

Now that Celtic have secured the SPL title for a second successive season, the race to finish runners-up to Neil Lennon's men takes centre stage.

This Sunday, Motherwell entertain the newly crowned champions at Fir Park in Sky's live clash and yet again, manager Stuart McCall has demonstrated how to get consistent results and value for money from a small squad.

Stuart McCall: A stunning season with access to limited resources

Stuart McCall: A stunning season with access to limited resources

Quite rightly, Terry Butcher at Inverness Caley Thistle and Derek Adams at Ross County have attracted plenty of praise for securing a place in the top half of the table but McCall's leadership has been just as impressive.

Hearts, Hibs & Aberdeen have all failed miserably to make it into the lucrative top half of the table for the final five games of the season and it must be galling for the money men at these clubs when they see a small squad on very modest salaries being led by a manager who clearly knows how to get results against teams with budgets far greater than what's on offer at Fir Park.

Had he not recently signed a new two-year contract as manager, McCall may well have attracted the attention of one of his former clubs

Quotes of the week

Live on Sky Sports

Motherwell v Celtic, 12.30, Sun, Sky Sports 4 HD

Since replacing Craig Brown in December 2010, McCall has led Motherwell to a Scottish Cup final and last season, he was able to secure 3rd spot behind Celtic and Rangers.

Pole position

With the Ibrox side out of the picture in Scotland's top flight this season, un-fancied Motherwell remain favourites to finish runners-up in the SPL.

Much of the success on the pitch has to be down to the goalscoring form of Michael Higdon who has notched 24 goals up til now, eclipsing the great 70s hero Willie Pettigrew.

Far from being a crowd favourite early on in his Motherwell career, Higdon has won over the doubters, not just by scoring goals but also improving his all-round game.

The Scouser is one of a number of players who are out of contract in the summer and while he won't attract the attention of Liverpool - his dream club - I'm sure he'll have a number of offers to consider.

Alongside him, I thought it was a smart move to get James McFadden back to the ground where he began to make a name for himself as a kid.

Fresh from losing Jamie Murphy to Sheffield United in the January transfer window, McFadden came in and gave the club a shot in the arm.

He brings the side that unexpected touch of class and artistry that can very often make all the difference. Having lost his way through injury at Birmingham and then Sunderland, a fit McFadden has raised the profile of the club and, in my view, also raises the game of his team-mates, all keen to impress a player who has produced big performances on the international stage.

Eyes on the prize

Had he not recently signed a new two-year contract as manager, McCall may well have attracted the attention of one of his former clubs.

Sheffield United are in the market for a successor to Danny Wilson and if getting maximum effort and eye-catching results are the priorities for the Bramall Lane board, then McCall fits the bill.

Neil Lennon, Terry Butcher and Derek Adams are all in the running for Manager of the Year but if Stuart McCall can secure second place for Motherwell, he might just edge it.

Having already beaten Celtic at Fir Park this season, another home win would pretty much secure another impressive three points.

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