Motherwell will hope for a quieter and more peaceful year in 2024 and start on January 2 away to Hibs.
Flush from ending our 15-game winless run against Livingston on Saturday, there is optimism we can continue to move away from the relegation battle.
When Hibs were beaten 2-1 at Fir Park in August, there seemed little indication that our season would spiral so out of control. What looked like being a comfortable campaign has turned into a miserable campaign for survival.
Stuart Kettlewell was under huge pressure a couple of weeks ago but the club seem to have made the decision to back him into the transfer window. After Hibs we have two weeks off before resuming in the Scottish Cup against Alloa.
Going into the winter break on the back of a positive result would certainly lift the mood and, from the perspective of the opposition, there is some reason for optimism. In addition to a few long-term injuries, four others – including the ever-dangerous Martin Boyle – are unavailable due to international duty.
Against Livingston we adopted a direct 5-2-3 formation and it will be interesting to see if we repeat the plan. Shane Blaney and Oli Shaw might be doubts after picking up injuries while Connor Wilkinson seems set for the exit.
Dan Casey and Lennon Miller remain out so there are limited options available. Bevis Mugabi joining the defence would seem certain and Callum Slattery or Harry Paton could bolster the midfield. Calum Butcher, back on the bench again, will presumably be reintroduced gradually.
With Livingston becoming adrift at the bottom, the focus is now on avoiding the play-off spot. A win could – remarkably – send us high as seventh but we might have to settle with more modest progress in a 1-1 draw.