The awakening experienced by Motherwell fans on Sunday morning was in stark contrast to the hopeful anticipation that dawned only twenty four hours before. The realisation that our season had finished with a wet whimper was sinking in.
Most travelled to Hampden fully aware that Motherwell were unlikely to pull off the shock. We were prepared for a loss but hoping that a spirited performance would soften the blow. Unfortunately we got the former but not the latter.
The manager had a difficult strategic decision to make between an aggressive start in an attempt to take the early initiative and more conservative approach of stifling the opposition and keeping a clean sheet. He decided on the defensive formation and elected to play five in midfield.
What bemused those who have followed or fortunes all season was the selection and placement of the players. Jennings was in his usual spot just in front of the back four and he formed the base of a midfield triangle with Hammell and Lasley. Our safe and steady left back had to play one of the biggest games of his career in an unfamiliar position. Surely our five midfielders should have been Humphrey, Lasley, Jennings, Hateley and Murphy? It’s all water under the bridge now.
Once we get over the disappointment we’ll be able to appreciate the fine season the team delivered. A top six finish, a League Cup semi and runners up in the Scottish Cup would have satisfied any realist who owned a season ticket at the start of the campaign. If we add half a dozen Europa League games including a great trip to Odense then surely the season was a success.
There will be regret that we will have no European tour to kick off Stuart McCall’s first full campaign in charge and that the preparation for the SPL will involve the dreaded pre-season friendlies but it might be that off field developments can provide some interest. Without John Boyle we’ll have the formation of a mutual trust company. Before then we’ll have to endure the close season!