Neil Lennon’s Celtic have done well against Motherwell in recent seasons but were beaten twice at Fir Park last season. Does that give them extra motivation going into tonight?
Yes I think the fact they’ve lost there the last 2 times does give them motivation. I’m not saying they lack motivation, far from it, but it does appear on the domestic front now things are quite comfortable. With the elimination from the Champions League, the domestic games obviously go to the front burner and we saw that against Hearts last week, it was devastating and the best Celtic performance we’ve seen for quite some time. So yes n a funny sort of way, the fact that they have come a cropper in the last two times at Fir Park might serve Celtic well going into this Friday night match.
Just on the point of that Friday night match. Celtic haven’t played a Friday night match for 15 years, but it’s something that’s been introduced to Scottish football recently. Of course you’ve commentated on some of those, what’s your feelings on Friday night fixtures in general, does it add something to Scottish football?
I’m a huge fan of Friday night football in Scotland. I think it’s something that’s been looked at in the last couple of years and I’ve been part of it as a commentator, funnily enough at Fir Park in most cases as that’s been picked for a lot of the live televised games. You have to look at it from a number of angles, if a game is to be televised we all know it can’t be at 3 o’clock on a Saturday so then you look at the other options. I think for quite a lot of fans, Friday night is maybe the best option. It doesn’t work for everyone if they have to work or have commitments but that’s equally true for other times. I think the atmosphere is better, I’ve covered German football and have done for many years and they’ve made Friday night one of the key days in their weekend and nobody complains about it or says this is terrible. I think under the lights it does give it something extra, the games have generally been better that we’ve covered on a Friday night as opposed to Saturday lunchtime when maybe the fans aren’t quite as into it. It has to be experimented with over the next year or so and we’ll see where it goes. It’s something well worth analysing going forward.
Back to tonight’s game, who do you see as the key men for both Motherwell and Celtic?
For Motherwell, it’s John Sutton. I say that because Motherwell have had good success with Sutton leading the line in his two spells for the club, he’s scored 49 goals for Motherwell now. One thing that is noticeable is that Motherwell have gone off the boil a bit in recent weeks and I put it down to the two front players, Sutton and Anier, have gone off the boil, Sutton only has 1 goal in his last 8 games. They haven’t really been able to find other goalscorers throughout the team. Motherwell know how to use him and he has been problematic for Celtic in the past.
For Celtic, I think Scott Brown. He has been greatly missed in the Champions League matches and he is a leader and he’s obviously becoming a scoring sensation in the last few weeks! I think Scott Brown might say goalscoring is the one area of his game he can improve upon, he’s not always going to be a prolific goalscorer but chipping in now for Celtic and for Scotland in the recent game against Norway. It’s going to be quite a loud night at Fir Park and the fans will be very much up for it and I think that’s where Scott Brown’s leadership qualities come into it. People sometimes talk about the negative side of Scott Brown and how he has to cool it down a little but there’s the other side of Scott Brown too that has worked out very well for Celtic.
“Derek Rae is a commentator on BT Sport’s coverage of the Scottish Professional Football League. Fans can watch today’s Motherwell v Celtic fixture exclusively live at 7.45pm on BT Sport 1. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit www.btsport.com”