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BEST LEFT WELL ALONE; SPL LATEST.

Byline: Scott McDermott

Hateley joy as high-flying side slip under the radar TOM HATELEY will happily let the Old Firm hog the headlines if it allows second-placed Motherwell to continue their stunning SPL run on the quiet.

With champions Rangers racing into a 10-point lead over faltering Celtic the Fir Park outfit's climb to second spot has almost gone unnoticed.

And that's just the way Hateley wants it to stay as he insists Stuart McCall's outfit relish slipping under the radar.

The Steelmen are a point ahead of the Hoops, having played a game more, and nine behind the Ibrox side.

Well have lost the same number of games as Celtic this season - three - and Hateley hopes their blistering start to the campaign continues.

He's refusing to get carried away so early in the season but admits it's strange seeing the Lanarkshire club sitting above the Glasgow giants.

He told Record Sport: "There is so much expected of the Old Firm clubs and it's great for us because we've slipped under the radar and have just got on with our business. "We believe we can do well in the SPL. And it's certainly doing us a favour when all the attention is on Rangers and especially Celtic at the moment.

"Everyone is concentrating on Celtic dropping points and not really looking at how well Motherwell are doing. But that has definitely helped us.

"It's always going to happen as Celtic are a massive club with huge financial backing.

"We're just Motherwell, who take one game at a time and try to play to the best of our ability.

"It is quite a weird feeling, looking at the SPL table and seeing us above Celtic.

We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves though.

"It's a long season and we have a lot of big games to play. To say we have a chance of finishing second at the end of the campaign is totally unrealistic.

"I don't want to sound like a pessimist but we need to know our limits as a club. We're taking every game as it comes and we're happy for the Old Firm to get all the headlines."

Hateley admits Well's ambition at the start of the season was just to finish in the SPL's top six.

But, without getting ideas above their station, the 22-year-old midfielder has now set his sights a little higher.

Bigger clubs than Motherwell have toiled this term and Hateley reckons McCall's astute transfer dealings have been the key to their success so far.

He said: "At the beginning we always think top six. But after the start we've had we should look at finishing higher.

CHANCE "We've given ourselves a good chance and the higher we can get the better. Obviously, we'll now be looking at being around third or fourth come May.

"We just have to enjoy this time. While we're doing well it's vital to enjoy it.

"The manager made good signings in the summer. Michael Higdon has started to score some goals and Nicky Law is a very good footballer, he's shown that.

"We kept hold of Jamie Murphy which was massive for us and when you've got those type of players who can win you games you've got a chance.

"The key is keeping everyone fit. We haven't got a massive squad and it will be a long hard grind."

It's been a superb start by the Steelmen and Hateley feels they can get even better as the season progresses.

He revealed McCall, who was installed as boss in January, is still trying to enforce his own ideas on Well's young squad.

He said: "We're still gelling. The manager does things differently to Craig Brown and Archie Knox and he's still trying to get his methods across."

CAPTION(S):

SILENCE IS JGOLDEN Hateley insists the Fir Park men are thriving outside of the spotlight
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 5, 2011
Words:650
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