Butcher vows to take crunch game to heart

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The Independent Football

Bankrolled by a Lithuanian businessman, Vladimir Romanov - a former Soviet submariner with a fortune estimated at £260m - their stated aim is to finish at least third in the table.

Terry Butcher's cash-strapped Motherwell, who operated on a total budget of £1m last year and visit Tynecastle this afternoon, are the flip side of the coin. They have won only once this season - 1-0 against the struggling Dunfermline - and have conceded four, four and five goals in their other three matches. They ceded a 4-2 advantage to lose 5-4 against Dundee United last week in front of their own fans. "Embarrassing, disgraceful, disgusting and appalling" was the manager's verdict.

Butcher has worked wonders at Fir Park on scant resources, leading them to a sixth-placed finish last season, and in fact Motherwell's recent record against Hearts is superb - they took 10 points from four league meetings last season.

The game today will be the first time that Burley and Butcher, who played together under Bobby Robson at Ipswich, have met as managers. And Burley will be facing a club for which he formerly played. The number of Hearts fans in the ground will outnumber those at any game in the past 10 years. Such is the demand at Tynecastle that home supporters will occupy 15,500 seats, leaving 1,400 for the visitors.

Butcher said yesterday that his team was "looking forward to causing an upset" in what he believes will be "an old-fashioned British battle even though [Hearts] haven't got that many British players now".

That last observation is not entirely accurate. While Burley has imported five foreigners over the summer, his goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, the centre-halves Steven Pressley and Andy Webster and playmaker, Paul Hartley, are all Scottish internationals. Another home-grown youngster to watch is the 18-year-old Calum Elliot, who may start if the Czech striker, Roman Bednar, has failed to recover from a hamstring strain.

Burley has already masterminded one emphatic win over a former Ipswich colleague this season, when Hearts thrashed Tony Mowbray's Hibernian 4-0 in the Edinburgh derby.

Hibs travel to Ibrox today, a venue where they have not won since September 1995. Rangers will be looking for a third victory in eight days following the 3-1 Old Firm success and the 2-0 midweek European win over Famagusta of Cyprus.

Celtic's next assignment comes at Dunfermline tomorrow. Gordon Strachan will be without their captain Neil Lennon, and Alan Thompson - who were both red-carded last weekend. Didier Agathe could play his first game of the season following injury.