The Ring of Confidence
Updated Tuesday, 4th November 2003
It is wonderful being a Motherwell fan at the moment. Nobody but the most optimistic would have predicted our current run of form in August and remarkably, we are in a position where we are almost beyond the reach of Thistle already. However, it is important to keep things in perspective.
Whilst it is great to be fifth in the table, it is important that we maintain a sense of realism. We will not qualify for
As has been commented on the messageboard, there is no debate whatsover about what our starting line up will be each week. In fairness it would not be changed anyway due to our recent results but if we had just gone on a five game losing streak, what options would Terry Butcher have? Jason Dair and Shaun Fagan are solid enough but they are hardly they men to solve a crisis. With Alex Burns being injured, our only alternative attacking option is Kenny Wright - and the usual jokes can be made about him not being allowed to play in mid-week games since he'll be out past his bed time.
However, at the minute we do not need to be frightened of the future. Yes Stephen Pearson will leave, probably in January, but that is the way of life for a selling club like ours We have had our little experiment with spending big money and it won't be repeated. Players will come in and be sold to pay bills, that's the way it is. The reason to be optimistic is that we are coming out of administration soon and we will be able to slowly work on giving our squad the depth it needs for us to progress as a club.
Terry Butcher's managerial ability was questioned last year but he is proving his doubters wrong this season. Goodness knows what possessed him to continue playing Keith Lasley on the right wing after his bad spells but Keith is currently playing the best football of his life and we now have one of the most solid midfielders outside the Old Firm. Similarly it would have been easy to ditch Derek Adams and abandon Scott Leitch to the knackers yard but these are important decisions that Terry has got right.
The big test for Terry and his group of eleven players will come not just on this Saturday but in the week after. Last year we made a solid enough start to the season until we went to Tynecastle. We knew a win there against quality opposition would take us to fourth in the league. Despite being 2-0 up, we collapsed and our season spiralled out of control from that point. Now we face a trip to Dens that could have a similar effect. A win puts us fourth and will prove that Terry Butcher and his small squad have considerable talent.
What will be more interesting is to see the reaction if we lose. It would only be our second loss in nine league games, far from a disaster, but we need to keep our confidence up and re-establish ourselves as a team not accustomed to losing. We didn't have that mental toughness last year and paid for it with our league placing. This year could be different