A strange season for Motherwell, which started with the hope and optimism that only absolutely annihilating someone in the playoffs and bringing in a bunch of players can bring. In the end it saw the fall of Ian Baraclough, the return of McGhee and a truly inexplicable top six finish.
Connor Ripley: 6/10
Potentially harsh on the season long Middlesbrough loanee, as he has been a consistent performer throughout the season. Given the Motherwell defence were about as protected as a Deliveroo rider, early season nerves were understandable. As his confidence grew, performances improved, but handling errors and a hesitation to leave his line proved costly at times.
Craig Samson: 3/10
A strange signing has shown a glimpse of promise in his two appearances. Two games, two wins, a couple of good saves.
Steven Hammell: 6/10
Another off season, another discussion as to whether we can rely on Hammell and Lasley for another year. Hammell continues to outshine anyone else we try playing at left-back. Beginning to wonder if he has a cursed amulet he chucks in their kit-bags.
Louis Laing: 4/10
A strange season for big Louis, mainly curtailed by injury. After starting as Baraclough’s first choice centre-half, McGhee trialed him as a midfield destroyer against Celtic, and latterly a marauding right back. In fairness to him, he’s performed admirably in each of these roles, but is yet to make any his own.
Stephen McManus: 7/10
Finally, McManus has shown what we thought we were getting all along. Talking Kennedy and Hall through games, McManus has shown himself as the leader we’d expected.
Joe Chalmers: 1/10
Signed after the playoff victory last season as a left back who could play centre-half, Joe had a great game on the opening day as a winger, a peak which he never came close to reaching again. Uncomfortable with players running at him and easily beaten, Chalmers occasionally looked less use than digging a hole at left back, on the basis that the hole might catch a winger out at least once.
Kieran Kennedy: 6/10
Brave. Kennedy has faults in his game, for sure. His hesitation cost us against Hearts, but his willingness to throw himself into every game without fear is a truly endearing trait, which he’s shown fully since his debut against East Fife. Fully supportive of more beards at Fir Park.
Ben Hall: 5/10
His last day aberration aside, Hall has been a solid performer this season. Brought in to the team for a comfortable win against Dundee, Hall has been a regular presence alongside Stephen McManus. Showed character to recover from a mistake against Hearts in the victorious youth cup final team.
Josh Law: 6/10
An early contender for the ‘Steven McGarry award’ for players that looked dreadful but McGhee has turned round. After starting as an attacking midfielder, then a winger, then a central midfielder, he’s now correctly been identified as a right back. A fine set piece taker and a more than capable full-back on his day.
Lionel Ainsworth: 4/10
It upsets me greatly that my main memories of Ainsworth this season are his utterly heart-breaking admission of guilt following the Partick Thistle game (Which, to be clear, I certainly hold nothing against him for, they were all absolute toss that night.) and the worst goal of the season, with his hilarious half-volley in Inverness. A player that can light up a game, this season simply hasn’t happened for him.
Chris Cadden: 8/10
The makings of a player, this one. A ball of boundless energy and floppy hair, Cadden has gone from a good prospect to a first team starter in the blink of an eye. His ability to run with the ball at pace has been a great advantage defensively as much as anything. Against Dundee United, his willingness to take the ball and run in to space to give everyone else a breather was a great advantage. Captained the team in the Youth Cup final and looks physically ready and capable to compete next season.
Keith Lasley: 6/10
Still handsome. Still consistent. Still winding up Aberdeen fans. A classic Lasley season.
Morgaro Gomis: 2/10
What seemed like a perfect loan signing in January to cover a creaking midfield has been a disappointment. I turned 28 in the time it took him to release a pass in February.
Stephen Pearson: 7/10
Nine goals from the middle of the park can’t be sniffed at. Some stand out performances (notably against Celtic in December) and it seemed like Pearson was rolling back the years. Sadly, an injury in March robbed Motherwell of him for a few months.
Marvin Johnson: 8/10
There isn’t a more entertaining player to watch in Scotland when he’s on one. Still, at times, struggling for consistency, but Marvellous Marvin’s ability to drift past players like they aren’t there is second to none. Scores goals, makes goals, and leaves full-backs on toast. Has shown versatility in playing on both flanks, and even in a pinch at full-back, performing admirably. He even won some headers later in the season.
Jack Leitch: 3/10
Probably has a right to be aggrieved with how his season has gone. Leitch has never quite hit the heights of his shackling of Scott Brown a few years ago. Injuries at crucial times ruled him out of contention, and I struggle to see what Gomis added to Motherwell that Leitch wouldn’t have.
Dom Thomas: 3/10
Where does Thomas fit? Undoubtedly a talented player, who has outgrown the under-20s where he regularly shines, most notably in their demolition of Hearts in the Youth Cup final. Yet to find his place in the first team. Next season is looking like a make-or-break year for him.
Louis Moult: 9/10
Would’ve been a 10/10 if he’d accepted any of my generous offers to come round for tea. Louis turned up from Wrexham, took the number 20 shirt and claimed he’d score 20 goals. He didn’t, in the end, but he came close enough. Moult has been everything we’ve wanted from a striker. Exceptional work rate, a hint of the dark arts, a goal scorer and even more so, a scorer of important goals. Moult scored winning goals in five games, and has arguably, been the difference between safety and scrapping for survival.
Wes Fletcher: 2/10
Owns a pair of the worst trainers I’ve ever seen, and probably would’ve had a higher score if it wasn’t for them. Wes was in many ways unlucky how his season panned out. A sparkling performance in Inverness was followed up with a strong combative display against a then-not-totally-awful Dundee United. A twitch in his knee saw him subbed after an hour, and that was it. Spotted a few more times throughout the season, but unable to make much of an impact.
James McFadden: 3/10
The third coming (I think? Could be fourth?). Another debut against Cove Rangers turned into a McFadden testimonial, as Motherwell fell over themselves trying to get him a goal. Provided a fantastic free-kick for a McManus goal in a rout of Dundee United. All the time in the world for him, but it is time for all of us to move on.
Scott McDonald: 8/10
More than anything, I’m glad he plays for Motherwell, and not someone else. An absolute, unapologetic pest from minute one through to ninety-plus-four. Restored to a more forward role following Baraclough’s departure, McDonald has forged a fearsome partnership with Moult, with just over half of Motherwell’s goals this season coming after the two were paired by McGhee.
LEFT THE CLUB
David Clarkson: 1/10
A generous 1/10 for a player simply unable to keep up with the pace of the game. Baraclough seemed to see him as cover for McDonald’s midfield role, and gave him that chance to show it in the league cup at Methil. Ten minutes in and it was plain to see he just wasn’t cut out for it. Probably still trying to figure out where Arnaud Djoum’s legs were going as he notched once in 900 minutes for St Mirren.
Liam Grimshaw: 4/10
Immediately endeared himself to the East Stand by turning up at Fir Park in a Stone Island jacket and looking like he’d spent the night on a pilgrimage to Spike Island. Grimshaw briefly played a vital role as McGhee placed him as a hard worker on the right of midfield, delivering a glorious cross in the 2-2 draw with Hearts. Headed off to Preston where injury curtailed the remainder of his season.
Dan Twardzik: N/A
It was never meant to be like this, Dan. Twardzik joined Motherwell on an emergency loan in late 2013 from Dundee, kept three clean sheets and won all five games he started. Come the end of the season, he signed permanently, Dan was our man. Then he wasn’t. An alarming propensity to concede with balls right over his head, he never really recovered from losing to Stjarnan. With the arrival of Samson, the writing was on the wall.
Theo Robinson: 0/10
Pretty sure he was a rugby league player, ran straight at things in straight lines.
Jake Taylor: -3/10
“I’m the invisible man, I’m the invisible man, incredible how you can, see right through me… Jjjjaaaaaaakkkkkeee Taaylor!” Freddie Mercury warned us in 1989, and we simply didn’t listen. Taylor joined on loan from Reading where the fans thought highly of him and had just been capped by Wales, there was much excitement. Hard to actually comment on whether he was good or not, in the end. There’s every chance he’s still playing for Motherwell every week, and has simply upped his hide-and-seek game even further.
Ian Baraclough: 2/10
We’ll always have Ibrox, Ian. That grin you pulled as Ainsworth fired us three up where you, just for a moment, lost your composure, echoed all of our feelings. Two dreadful league cup games and a run that saw us heading back to the playoffs did for him, in the end.
Mark McGhee: 7/10
Difficult to fault, despite many fans desire to. Quickly identified the players in the squad he wanted, shipped the rest off and got on with getting us fitter and more organised. Wins against Aberdeen, Hearts and Celtic, as well as getting the victory we needed against a marginally resurgent United was vital. Not without criticism, starting Hammell at right-back at Hearts was Shia Labeouf levels of baffling and the only good thing I can say about the final day performance was my Solero.
Written by Graeme Thewliss