Kevin Van Veen set for new Motherwell contract as Graham Alexander’s ‘trust’ pays off


Kevin Van Veen is closing in on a new Motherwell deal – and Graham Alexander hopes the striker can give his fan club double reason to celebrate by firing the club into Europe.

The Dutch ace has become a Fir Park favorite with his talismanic displays in a 10-goal season.

His return from suspension is perfectly timed as Motherwell head into a make-or-break week for their European ambitions with this afternoon’s trip to Ross County offering the chance to jump the Staggies into the last Euro spot in fifth.

Alexander’s relationship with Van Veen from his time at Scunthorpe helped lure the 6ft 1in frontman north from the The Iron last summer.

And he said: “Kevin has a year left on his deal but we had a brief chat a few weeks ago about looking to extend that.

“We agreed to get through to the split and then sit down properly. We do not want him to go into next season going into his last year.

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“He has enjoyed his football after a difficult couple of years with injury. We gave him a place where he is trusted and loved and he has responded to that.

“His quality is undoubted. Coming to us has ticked off the things we spoke about last summer, the profile of playing for Motherwell and some of the grounds and teams we play against.

“I don’t lie to players and he has seen what we spoke about was true and he is in a good place.

“A big thing for him is being respected in the dressing room and the boys love him and that’s important for Kev.

“Where he has played in England you don’t get to play in major cup finals, play in Europe or play in front of 50,000 or 60,000.

Graham Alexander says he will tell his players how other games are going, when he thinks the time is right
Kevin van Veen and Graham Alexander

“I knew with the quality he has he can be as good as anyone. He has to have consistency and he knows that.

“Not having him for the last two games was difficult with his suspension. I don’t know if I have served 12 bookings but he is back.

“Europe is in our own hands and we would rather be in this position than playing dead rubbers.

“I think this season has been a success being in the top six but we would be unambitious to chase the next prize.

“It is right there for us and it’s an exciting position to be in.”

For Well to do that they’ll need to vastly improve on a run of just one win in 15 league games – stretching back to their last visit to Dingwall which ended in a 3-1 defeat.

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Alexander said: “We knew when it was going well we would have a period that was tough and you always have that at a club like this.

“We didn’t want it to be this long but we have progressed and no one can deny that since last January.

“We are developing young players here and they are the future for us.

“In the last 16 months we have moved on and I believe it will continue.”

Forward Ross Tierney is desperate to clinch a return to European football after his Conference League exploits with Bohemians last summer saw the Dubliners knock out Stjarnan and Dundelange before giving Greek giants PAOK an almighty fright.

Motherwell’s Ross Tierney

He said: “The first game was in Iceland against Stjarnan and we got a feel for it. We went through which was unbelievable and then we beat Dudelange.

“I scored the winner in Luxembourg which was great then we came up against PAOK.

“PAOK came to Ireland thinking it was going to be a walkover but we beat them 2-1. It was unbelievable. But we knew we’d be up against it going over there.

“It was during the heatwave which didn’t help. It was 7.30pm at night and it was 32 degrees. But UEFA wouldn’t let us get water breaks as it had to be 35 degrees.

“The atmosphere was something else and just playing against Shinji Kagawa, Nelson Oliviera and player like that was unbelievable.

“Last season was decent and I want to get more European football under my belt.”

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Meanwhile, Alexander reckons Rangers Euro success will benefit all Premiership clubs in their transfer dealings.

Motherwell played a small part in Gers semi final success by moving their match forward 24 hours ahead of the first leg against RB Leipzig.

And boss Alexander said: “I’ve not had a text yet for moving the first game but seriously it’s our first responsibility to do what is right to help Scottish football.

“Our game gets knocked a bit so it’s good for our clubs to do well in Europe and our league to look strong.

“It helps us attract audiences, finance and better players, so everyone benefits from it.

“We have gone to Ibrox twice and drawn twice whereas big European teams have been turned over there.

“These wee things can help when you are selling the club to potential players.

“For Rangers to get to a European final stands the game in good and hopefully they can win the final.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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