New year, new hope

Motherwell did not so much stumble into the winter break as crash into it with a loss to Hamilton which was undeniably catastrophic. The next three weeks, before we rematch with Accies in the cup, look crucial - but 2018 offers cause for optimism.

It is always hard to remove the short-term on the pitch performance from analysing long-term progress but we are clearly moving in the right direction. The Well Society has made smooth running of the club in its months in charge and day to day Fir Park looks strong.

The Community Trust is bringing more people into the club on a regular basis while the women's team continues to go from strength to strength. Jobs are being advertised hopefully to bring in yet more income off the pitch and we have cash in the bank.

But as good as that is, a continued slide down the table will make it pale.  There's no doubt that the team was on its knees as the old year ended but we should be back on our feet when action resumes.  Several of the squad had to play when rest and recovery was the preferred option.  Of the walking wounded, Cadden was the major loss.  It seems like an age since we saw his powerful midfield runs.  Appearances for the national U21 side have added to the season's load and he, along with Campbell, should benefit from the break.  Frear and Hartley will also enjoy a spell on the couch before they prepare for the second half of the season.

Motherwell fans are anticipating news of the promised influx.  A couple of strikers and a central midfielder would seem to be the minimum requirement and it would not be a surprise if one or two are given the opportunity of pursuing their careers elsewhere.  It's a tough business.

A couple of wins early in the new year would restore our comfortable buffer from the bottom two and if that can be paired with progress to the next round of the Scottish Cup then our season will be well and truly back on track.