Review of season 2023-24

Last updated : 20 May 2024 By John Wilson

Motherwell retain top flight status but face a dilemma about fan control.

The final placing of ninth in the league table came as a relief to ‘Well fans who feared the worst during the dark winter days.  Fortunately a spring revival brought some cheer.  Off the field the search for investment in the club may pose a tricky question for Well Society members.


We started in Elgin

The summer transfer window in 2023 came with the departure of a score of players.  Kevin van Veen was sold to Groningen for £500k and a development fee of £300k was due as Max Johnston joined Sturm Graz.

By the end of August nine had been added as Stuart Kettlewell began to shape his squad.  Mika Biereth, on loan from Arsenal, made a sparkling start but an injury (from old boy Charles Dunne) kept him out from mid-August until the end of October.   Despite that the season started well.  The group stage of the League Cup had us seeded for the knockout but a single goal loss in Paisley stopped progress.


Captain Kelly directs against St Mirren

Four games into the League saw us sitting pretty.  An opening draw at Dens and wins over Hibs, Kilmarnock and Hearts gave the optimists cause to believe that the fabulous form that saved us in the previous season would continue.  Who needed a 29 goal striker?  Then the bubble burst.

Motherwell gained much praise but no points from the games against St Mirren, Rangers and Celtic.  We had twenty two shots to St Mirren’s eight but the visitors scored the only goal; the Rangers’ manager acknowledged that his side were fortunate to take the points at Ibrox and an equaliser five minutes into added time was not enough to prevent an even later winner from Celtic.

That run of winless games stretched on and on and on and eventually reached fifteen.


The old guard depart

At the top end we struggled to score as none of Jon Obika, Theo Bair or Oli Shaw were productive strikers.  The fact that we had conceded more goals than any other team by the turn of the year says plenty about the defence.

The team did show one useful quality.  Motherwell topped the table for points taken from a losing position.  Goals scored in added time against Ross County, Celtic, Dundee and St Johnstone kept us above the relegation place but the as the weeks without a win dragged on the pressure on the manager grew.


Goal at Parkhead

Final game of the year produced the long awaited win against Livingston at Fir Park.  It offered some comfort for the forthcoming winter break but there was no disguising the fact that a significant improvement would be needed to lift the team away from the danger area.

Off the park the Well Society had a refreshing injection of new blood to the board and a higher profile followed.  In December club chairman Jim McMahon and interim CEO Derek Weir advised their intention to stand down by the end of the season.

The search for investment prompted the club to produce a quirky YouTube video that caused quite a stir.  Erik Barmack, a former Netflix vice-president, entered negotiations and his proposals prompted long discussions with the club and Society boards.  The debate at the AGM illustrated the dilemma that will have to be faced by the shareholders. 


Victory at Ibrox

The most significant player movement in winter break was the recall of Mika Biereth to Arsenal.  The squad was now woefully short of quality forwards but one player grabbed his chance to shine.  In the twenty games to Christmas Theo Bair had two goals to his credit, during the next twenty he added thirteen more and the threat of relegation was over. 

Morton put an end to Scottish Cup ambitions on a Friday night in Greenock. 

Arguably the highlight of the season was the March win at Ibrox.  Not since 1997 had Motherwell fans been able to celebrate a regular league win in Govan and a rousing rendition of Twist and Shout echoed round the almost empty stadium.

Blair Spittal made a huge contribution to our season.  Some spectacular goals and excellent midfield play made his an obvious target for others and it was no surprise to learn that he had signed a pre-contract agreement with Hearts. 


The home of football on a perfect pitch

The season opened in Elgin where teenager Lennon Miller stole the show.  He became a fixture in front of the defence and his outstanding talent has been widely acknowledged.  He is a valuable asset to the club.

Brian Caldwell was appointed to the Chief Executive job that had been filled on an interim basis by Derek Weir since Alan Burrows’ departure.  Jim McMahon will soon leave his chairman’s seat as the club moves on under refreshed leadership.  The Well Society and its members await details of the proposed deal with the US investor and they may face a crucial decision in the coming months.

Stuart Kettlewell will build another squad over the summer.  This term his side were the third highest scorers in the league.  If that statistic can be replicated next season we should be assured of another in the top flight.

Review of seasons since 2001