Motherwell ready but questions abound over 20/21

Last updated : 29 July 2020 By Derek Wilson

Butterflies are common ahead of any season but it is fair to say no campaign has ever started like the 2020/21 season in Scottish football.

Superficially Motherwell will enter having finished third last season and with a squad - on paper - more than capable of challenging in the top half.

But while there remain significant question marks on the playing side, the impact of the coronavirus looms over everything.

Indeed, it was only on Monday that Dundee United were finally confirmed as replacements for relegated Hearts, a week out from our opening game away to Ross County.


We then host the returning Terrors in our home opener when fans will not flood to Fir Park but gather round computer screens. It is not known if/when matches will be played with doors open rather than closed.

The SPFL has also been notably quiet about what will happen if things go wrong during coming 10 months. A major second wave would complicate matters hugely but even isolated cases would have the potential to throw the season into chaos.

Testing is ongoing but delayed friendly matches and the unexplained cancellation of previously arranged games hint at a possibly ad hoc campaign to come.

On the playing side, the core of our team again seems solid but should things go wrong there are various weaknesses which could be to blame.

Number one Trevor Carson has not played competitively since late 2018 as he replaces Mark Gillespie between the posts while it is fair to say our defence would look significantly weaker should Declan Gallagher be injured. He will have Rickie Lamie as his new partner.

Jake Carroll is another returning from a long-term injury at left back while in front of them the midfield seems to be overflowing. Will David Turnbull return to top form after a missed season? We coped without him last time but need Liam Polworth to rediscover his golden touch from last autumn.

That should ensure the creative middle is well staffed while Alan Campbell, Liam Donnelly and Mark O'Hara will presumably battle it out, to battle.

Up front Chris Long signed a belated new deal while Tony Watt stayed and Jake Hastie made a (largely) welcome return. We will see if Jordan White can make up the step up while Sherwin Seedorf and Jermaine Hylton must both improve and find consistency to contribute again.

The League Cup starts for us only in November as we miss the group stage packed into October because of our Europa League involvement. It is doubtful of course we will still be involved in continental competition by then but will make the most of the experience while it lasts.

The Scottish Cup could, by next year, offer some hint of normality if you ignore the 2020 final being played just before Christmas...

It is just one reminder that this season is both like no other and could potentially be halted at any time by events outside our control. Should the worst happen, we seem to be as well prepared as can be - but global events mean the definition of a successful campaign may simply be the club existing to start 2021/22.

If we set our sights a little higher, a midtable year and a cup run - as ever - would seem a realistic goal.