How Motherwell management change could play to Celtic's advantage

By Lewis Laird

September 29, 2022

This weekend, Celtic are preparing to return to Scottish Premiership action at Parkhead as we face off against Motherwell.

Both teams will be looking to get back to winning ways after suffering defeat before the September international break.

Celtic are coming into the back of this game off of a frustrating 2-0 loss to St Mirren, whilst on the same day, Motherwell suffered a 3-0 defeat to the hands of Hearts.

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Whilst the two teams suffered fairly similar outcomes last time out, it seems Motherwell came away from their fixture with more positives.

Although the Steelmen lost out quite heavily to Hearts, they dominated a lot of proceedings and had plenty of chances to try and get something from the game.

Following on from the sacking of former Well boss Graham Alexander before the season had even kicked off, Motherwell now have Steven Hammell in charge.

It may be the 40-year-old’s first step into management after his time spent as the club’s academy director. However, he already appears to be having an impact at Fir Park.

During his first eight games in charge, the one-club man has won four, drawn one and suffered three defeats. But, the biggest impact he is having is on the club’s current style of play.

On social media, Motherwell fans have been lauding the style of play in comparison to how their team was playing under the management of Alexander.

Well striker Kevin Van Veen has also opened up on the changes he recognises in Hammill’s playing style, which is much more on the front foot and possession based.

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After Motherwell’s victory over Aberdeen, he said [Daily Record]: “We are now on the ball instead of setting up more defensive and winning second balls.

“We now want to make the play. You will get caught up at times, and there are risks, but I like playing like that. We showed good penetration, and that is what the gaffer wants.

“He wants us to play out and get as many touches. He wants quick football, and it is working.”

On several occasions, speaking to the press, the new Motherwell boss has spoken up about the demand that his team play their style of football.

Going into a tough run of fixtures in October, which includes facing Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side twice within a matter of weeks, it will be interesting to see how the Fir Park side set up.

If they do choose to continue playing their style of football, then it could be an advantage that the Hoops are able to benefit from going into this weekend’s game.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

If Hammell continues to ask his players to play his way, then it could benefit Ange Postecoglou and Celtic.

What the Bhoys’ last outing against the Buddies has shown is that Postecoglou’s squad aren’t prone to losing despite their impressive unbeaten run in the league.

However, just because they have lost on one occasion, it doesn’t mean that these players should be written off automatically.

Following on from the international break, the Hoops will be hungry to kick-start another winning run, and if Motherwell are to come out and play their football, it could leave plenty of gaps for Celtic to expose.

Of course, I am sure Hammell and his coaching staff will have been hard at work to prepare the best system they believe will counteract Celtic’s free-flowing attacking frontline.

But, any mistake made by the Motherwell defence is likely to be punished if they aren’t at the top of their game when facing off against Celtic for the first time under their new manager.

On the domestic front at Celtic Park, Ange Postecoglou’s side has showcased this campaign just how dangerous they can be with an emphatic victory over Rangers.

If Motherwell and Hammell aren’t at their best, it could be a long afternoon if they try to play expansive football at Parkhead.

In other news, Matt O’Riley has already made his Celtic future mindset and focus clear.