GLF79 - Tommy gives the team some praise.
A Team Game
Although only in March, this has been an incredible league campaign. It is almost a cliché to say we’re punching above our weight, but we have been doing this for years now. We are established as a Top Six side, consistently finishing above clubs with better finances, squads and attendances. After Rangers’ financial breakdown we are breathing down their necks in the race for second. Even more admirably, at the time of writing, we are eleven points clear of “the rest”. Eleven points. This is fantastic. Even if we lose games before this goes to print, it is quite a feat. At times, it’s easy to take success for granted, so I’m going to take a step back and ask – how did we get here?
No-one will argue our success has been down to a number of things falling into place. We’ve had stability and financial prudence, posting a modest profit. Events in Glasgow show just how important this part of a football club is. We seem to have learned lessons from our own bout of administration. We have, once again, unearthed a rough diamond of a manager. Stuart McCall’s time in the Fir Park hotseat has been, in my opinion, near flawless.
Throughout the team, front to back, our players have defied expectations. We have a confident goalkeeper. Defenders who know each other’s game. Midfielders who impose themselves on games. Creative players who make chances. And crucially, in Higdon, a striker who can finish these chances. Ojamaa, Lasley, Law and Hateley have each had a tremendous impact. I could write about any aspect of our team and how things seemed to have “clicked” in recent weeks. However, the most interesting aspect for me is the use of just seventeen players this season.
Our script normally reads: start strongly, play nice football, go on a winning run, hit winter, pick up injuries and suspensions, lose a couple of players in January, stutter to a mid-table finish. This year has been different. Although our run threatened to derail after some stuttering home matches, we have recovered to take fourteen points from a possible eighteen after a defeat by Caley in January. Instead of weakening our team, the transfer window saw us snap up Henrik and keep Jamie Murphy. The benefits of a small squad have become apparent; our players understand the system and play as a team.
For once, injuries have been conspicuous by their absence. I don’t know why this should be, as our players are as full-blooded in tackles as ever. The credit has to go to our backroom and medical staff. They are out of the limelight but have given us the basis of a small, fit pool of players – a platform to build our achievements on.
Since the dark days of administration, I like to think of Motherwell as a close-knit, well-run club. This season has brought these qualities to the fore. Look to Ibrox to see how not to run a football club. Our victories on the pitch involve the teamwork of more than just the playing staff.
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