Scottish Premier League

Brown not losing any sleep

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Fri, 08 Mar 2013 20:59:00

Marouane Fellaini has insisted goals are just a bonus and he is more concerned with helping Everton to victories.

The Belgian took his goal tally for the season to 12 when he netted Everton's opener in a 3-1 victory over Reading last weekend.

However, he has played down the significance of the number and stressed that his only focus is making a contribution to the team, ahead of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan Athletic.

"I scored last week but the most important thing is the three points against Reading," Fellaini told the club's official website.

"Now I am ready for Wigan in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and I hope to win the game. That's the most important thing - for the supporters, for the staff, for Everton. It's important to win because it is good for confidence."

Asked about a goals target for the season, Fellaini added: "I'm happy and when I score the goals it is a bonus for me.

"I'm not a striker, I'm not a goalscorer - I'm a midfielder. It's good for me but it's important to win every game.

"I have played more up front and I'm more in the box, so I have more chances to score the goals now. I try to concentrate when I'm in the box.

"I don't have an idea of how many I can score but I will try to play well. I will try to keep going and we will see."

Fellaini is confident that Everton can progress past Wigan and go on to challenge for FA Cup glory.

He said: "Everybody has a big motivation for this game. There is a big chance for Everton and the players. Every day the players come in and work hard for this, so I hope we can go to the semi-finals this season.

"We have a good team and good players. Now the most important thing is Saturday and I hope every supporter can help the team to win the game.

"I have played here five years and I have won nothing, so I hope this season we can win a trophy. When you play football, you want to win something and I hope we can this season."

The match briefly tilted Groningen's way when they seized a 48th-minute lead thanks to Maikel Kieftenbeld, who crashed a fierce shot into the top left corner from 25 yards after a corner was only half cleared.

However NAC were back on level terms two minutes later after they were awarded a penalty for a shove in the box, and Jordy Buijs converted from the spot.

It finished 1-1, with Groningen staying ninth in the table and NAC remaining 12th.

The 20-year-old will remain at the Blue Square Bet Premier side for a further month.

Moult has so far made six appearances for relegation-strugglers Nuneaton.

Hateley is among 10 first-team players whose contracts are up at the end of the campaign.

Another one, Nicky Law, has attracted interest from Rangers and the likes of goalkeeper Darren Randolph and 20-goal striker Michael Higdon are sure to be on other clubs' wanted lists.

But Hateley is determined to hold on to second spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and believes Motherwell's fifth European qualification in six seasons could be vital.

The 23-year-old said: "There's a lot of us out of contract but we will just look to take care of business at the moment.

"Second is definitely a realistic position for us to finish.

"If we get second and get some European football it could be a big difference between whether people stay or go.

"It's inevitable the boys will get attention if you finish second.

"It would be a shame to throw away the position we are in now after the hard work and determination we have shown throughout the season."

Manager Stuart McCall knew nothing of the Rangers interest other than what he had read in the media, but Ibrox manager Ally McCoist today admitted he was aware of Law's contract situation.

McCall said: "I have not heard anything about it but it doesn't surprise me in the least that any club would be interested in Nicky Law and a lot of our players.

"His contract is up at the end of the season, I have spoken to his agent, and we will see where we go.

"I'm sure there will be lots of clubs south of the border who will be interested in taking him because he's an excellent player, and if he is played in the right role I think he can go on and have an excellent career."

McCall is still to put pen to paper on a new two-year contract, but the delay in completing the deal is not hindering his long-term planning.

"I know from speaking to the players and their agents roughly who wants to be offered contracts, who will listen to offers, which most of them will," he said.

"I have spoken to countless agents and three our four players about coming to Motherwell next season.

"The reality is that a couple of our players will move on and we accept that.

"It's then finding new players. I'm probably speaking to agents more than I'm speaking to my missus at the moment."

Motherwell are looking to extend their 12-game unbeaten run against Aberdeen in the SPL, although Craig Brown's team have knocked them out of the last two William Hill Scottish Cup campaigns.

And McCall still feels the Dons could be contenders for a European spot despite sitting in ninth place.

"I think they have the strongest squad outwith Celtic," he said.

"They have had their injury problems and I'm sure Craig will point to that and rightly so.

"I'm sure if they had a full squad throughout the season they would be higher up but nobody is saying they can't put three or four victories together and be right up there at the end of the season.

"I still think they have the players and experience to do it."

McCall, whose side are on the back of victories over Celtic and Hearts, witnessed the poor Pittodrie pitch at first hand on Scotland duty last month and will bear it in mind.

"We went to Ross County and didn't adapt to the conditions well and got beat," he said.

"Aberdeen's (pitch) doesn't look to be in the best condition. It's the same for both sides but it does affect your planning and selection."

The Dons sit ninth in the table and have picked up just one victory in their last nine outings in all competitions.

They face a tough challenge when Motherwell come calling tomorrow - a side the Dons have failed to defeat in the league since 2008.

But veteran boss Brown refused to be downbeat about forthcoming matches, while claiming he is not feeling the pressure.

He said: "You've got an accountability to everyone here at the football club - the chairman, the board, the fans. You've got that in every game.

"I want the best for Aberdeen Football Club, that's my job. I'm certainly accountable.

"But I don't feel pressure. I'm not losing sleep. I'm conscious of the fact that we want to do as well as we can.

"I think the fair-minded people will look and say that we've had some misfortune but we've had some poor performances.

"Not all that many, I would have to say, but the last game was one of them and we must get that out of our system."

He added: "I'm not contemplating not being in the top six. I'm optimistic about it and we're focused on getting there."

Asked if James McFadden - back at Motherwell for a second spell - will be the one to watch at Pittodrie, Brown said: "He's one of many.

"The Motherwell team are confirming they are the second best team in the country.

"We've put them out of the cup in the last two seasons away from home and the last two games we've played here have been draws.

"So we just need to try to edge a step further. I think they are respectful of our team and we are certainly respectful of theirs."

Aberdeen have not registered a victory over the Steelmen in their last 12 league games.

Brown added: "I can remember one because I was the manager of Motherwell and it was an easy 3-0 victory here.

"I'm convinced it won't be like that when they come up here tomorrow.

"They managed to beat us here last season but it was a close game and we've had the upper hand in the games at Fir Park.

"You couldn't get a closer fixture and we've got to just edge it."

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