Do we have enough quality at the club?
I have finally realised what the problem is at the club at the moment, it’s the quality and depth of squad we currently have – not rocket science I know. But lets look at this a little closer, by firstly comparing the last XI fielded by Tommy Mclean and the XI fielded against Aberdeen in October;
May 1994 Oct 1997
V. St Johnstone (0-1) V. Aberdeen (1-2)
Burley Trialist (SIC!!)
Quite a dramatic loss in standard over three years I am sure you will agree!! I find this totally alarming, and while some of it is down to the Bosman ruling ensuring we got no money for Lambert and McKinnon, this is obviously not the whole story. We receive Eddie May for the loss of Kirk and McGrillen plus a £100K, this didn’t help, our overall quality. We swapped Dolan for Coyle and received a short term boost but Coyle appears to be doing what he has done at his last two or three clubs, a bright start but then fades away.
We also seem now to have put our faith in Youth, this sounds like the action of a desperate board who are not prepared to pay out for quality players from else where. As we have mentioned before we have had numerous trialists at Fir Park over recent months. Only to be repeatedly told that they are not better than we currently have, well if this is the case there is something wrong with the scouting reports we have received!! It would appear that the truth is that the club is not prepared to meet the wage demands of these players. This brings us nicely on to Resch and Dorner, having spent all summer chasing these players we let them go due to a mixture of the above two excuses!! What was the point of the summer dealings, why were we not told that they had only signed on for three months – was this merely a ploy to give us good news in the summer to boost season ticket sales. I feel that the club must have surely regretted this action of letting these two go almost immediately as we then hit our usual injury problems with no experienced cover.
While the club have bemoaned the loss of transfer revenue due to the Bosman ruling, we did receive around £400k for Van Der Gaag on his return to Holland, where has this money gone? Certainly not into strengthening the squad.
What is the answer to this problem? The obvious would be to say that we need to sign quality players BUT how do we do that? We will obviously not do it under the current financial conditions at Fir Park, as the new board have already said that there is no money for players, in fact, we may never pay a transfer fee for a player ever again!! We either need the current people in charge to put the club into debt - which they undoubtedly won’t OR we need a Jack Walker/John Hall type figure to buy out Mr Chapman’s majority share holding – which appears to be extremely unlikely. One other answer would be that we are included in a Scottish Premiership breakaway and are suddenly handed a huge cheque from Sky for the TV rights. This would appear to be the most likely route, and one that the club appears to be relying on.
There is another way to survive in the Premier League, as taken by the likes of Dunfermline, that is to take players who have a proven track record in the Scottish League(s) and blend them into a team which is stronger than the sum of its parts. This is where the coaching and management can be brought into question, if there is a lack of leadership on the field it then has to come from the Manager off the field. He then has to let each player know exactly what is required of him during the game they are about to play. While I don’t want to see us play the Dunfermline way, you have to have respect for their team spirit and organisation – attributes in short supply in our team.
While the quality of football on show at Fir Park remains poor and results keep going against crowds are going to dwindle, already the average attendance this season is below 7000. The fact that we can’t fill our section of the ground against the Old Firm means the ground is never full to capacity. This also makes it harder for commercial ventures, as people are not likely to want tops, posters etc when things are not going so well. I believe that Matt Thomson has taken on an almost impossible task to boost the commercial side of the business under the current environment,
What are the consequences if we don’t change the quality or depth of our squad – it looks to me as if we could spend a long time in the wilderness of the First Division with crowds of lower than 3000 at Fir Park, no need to open the South Stand for the visit of some clubs, the players forced to go part time thus ensuring that the quality does not improve!! This is a vicious circle that needs to be broken quickly, even if we do survive this year we are going to have the same struggle again next year and the next year etc etc. We are also likely to lose a prestigious sponsor such as Motorola, and who is there waiting in the wings to replace them?
What can we as fans do to help during this situation, well as we have said so many times before we need to be “supporters”, by getting behind the team, rather than the constant criticism that pours from the stands when we aren’t 3-0 up after 15 minutes, or when a player makes a genuine error. This is the lowest I have ever felt as a Motherwell supporter, particularly as the fall from second place only two seasons ago has been so alarming!! Sadly I’ll still be at Fir Park every week come hail, rain or snow!!
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