GLF56: Malcolm has a look at the young and the old.
Youth vs Experience
Since administration cut a swathe through a large chunk of Motherwell's first team squad what seems a lifetime ago,there can't be many teams fans better qualified to make judgments on the pros and cons of having exuberant young players and relying on canny old pros.
There was the ill - disciplined young squad that took us to bottom of the SPL,the same team however could play some swashbuckling stuff and gave us some real highlights.I never tire of reminiscing of wins over both sides of the old firm,the thumpings of the Jambos and Livi.Not to mention a great Scottish cup run, although it can be agonizing to think what might have been there.
Things have calmed down a lot since then and under the guidance of the deity that is Terry Butcher we've managed to achieve successive Top Six finishes and get to the CIS cup final.The day we were officially confirmed as finishing bottom of the SPL back in Terry's first full season in charge,such success seemed light years away.
Which brings us to a possible dilemma facing Terry Butcher just now.With most of the first team squad secured for next season at least,the fates of Gordon Marshall and Phil O'Donnell remain in doubt.Most of us reckon that they will likely be rewarded with new one year deals,but given the general lack of money available they won't be decisions Butcher makes lightly.
Arguably we played our best football earlier in the season when we could rely on Uncle Phil being in the team.He scored a few goals,his passing and support of the front boys rolled back the years to his first stint here,if a yard slower.However the injuries all too soon came back to the fore and he currently lies recovering from his latest injury which has him ruled out for the remainder of the season.Certainly for my money he has been worth the 18 month contract he initially signed.Can we afford to build our midfield around him though ?I wouldn't be gutted if he signed on again but if Terry thinks he can get in a more reliable replacement it might be better to move on with mostly good memories of a Motherwell legend.I suspect another short term deal will be on offer however,and we'll benefit from his presence more sparingly next term.
As for Marshall,well although he may be considerably older than O'Donnell he's proved to be less injury prone.I'd say he's been even better this season than last,however the last few weeks have been a bit of a nightmare for the teams elder statesman.Blunders in the cup final,the following Rangers game and then the sending off at Inverness have had many questioning whether his time is up.I reckon it's just a blip and he has another year left in him,even if Corr were to possibly take over the number one status,Marshall's experience in the background can only be to our benefit.
So I think we can safely attribute our relative success to our more experienced members of the squad tempering the excesses of youth.Bringing through our own young talent is always likely to be the way forward for a club of our stature,so fingers crossed we can keep the balance right and we can see the younger lads like Fitzpatrick,Quinn and Kinniburgh blossom alongside the older guys in the near future.With many more to follow in years ahead.
Visit the GLF archive. Hundreds of articles.