International breaks pause the domestic league campaign and give an opportunity to take stock. How goes it for Motherwell?
A look at the league table suggests that the Steelmen have started well but keen observers will be aware that the team needs to improve on the pitch.
A haul of seven points from the opening four fixtures has placed Motherwell in the top half of the table. The two wins over Livingston and Dundee may have added significance given that those opponents are likely to become lower half rivals as the season develops.
The early games came as the squad continued to build. New players had to build fitness while adjusting to unfamiliar team-mates. Some were returning to action after long spells of recuperation. In that light, two wins, a draw and one loss appears to offer hope.
Now that the transfer window has closed the manager has a pool of players that offer competition for every position.
The need to catch the manager’s eye will be particularly intense among the defenders with Liam Grimshaw, Jake Carroll, Ricki Lamie, Nathan McGinley, Bevis Mugabi, Stephen O'Donnell, David Devine, Darragh O'Connor, Juhani Ojala and Sondre Johansen all looking for places.
Of the dozen summer additions only three are midfielders. Callum Salttery, Sean Goss and youngster Mich’el Parker joined to strengthen the exisiting group of Robbie Crawford, Mark O'Hara, Steven Lawless, Barry Maguire, Liam Donnelly and Dean Cornelius.
Tony Watt is the sole remaining forward. He is joined by Connor Shields, Justin Amaluzor, Kaiyne Woolery, Kevin Van Veen and Jordan Roberts in the hunt for goals.
Graham Alexander’s task on appointment midway through last season was to ensure top flight survival. He adopted a safety first style of play that consisted of keeping the ball as far from our goal as possible. Playing out from the back was ruled out as long range targets were favoured. The tactic, though not for the purist, succeeded as the Steelmen pulled away from the danger zone.
The next few weeks will reveal whether this revitalised squad has the ability to survive and entertain.