Season player ratings 2016/17: Motherwell

May 25, 2017


Well, we didn’t go down, so I suppose that’s something? A horror show of a season for the boys from ML1. One which started with such promise fell apart almost immediately with a combination of transfers, injuries and Joe Chalmers. High points included the opening day, Moult putting four past Hamilton and Mark McGhee enacting his own personal attack on net neutrality.

Let’s have a look at the squad that was, and wonder how on earth we got away with this.


Craig Samson: 3/10

Feels generous, that. Samson was a weird signing last year to be our third senior keeper and was bumped up to first choice because he was the only one left. In the end, it was his collapse against Dundee (Dundee of lost-seven-straight-games-and-managed-by-a-TV-pundit fame) under almost no pressure that finished him off. When the crowd start cheering you catching a football, your time is probably up.

Russell Griffiths: 4/10

Truth be told, I’ve no idea if the Everton loanee is any good or not. As Craig Samson disintegrated in front of our very eyes, Griffiths remained on the bench. Under 20s highlights revealed an alarming propensity for the ball passing right through him. Credit where credit is due, however, his fantastic save from Alex D’Acol in the final not-a-derby of the season was a turning point in Motherwell’s campaign. Motherwell scored minutes later, and remained safe.


Steven Hammell: 6/10

I think it is now clear that Steven Hammell does have a cursed amulet that he chucks in all other Motherwell left back’s kit bags. Hammell remains Motherwell’s best left-back option, something that reflects well on him and dreadfully on everyone else. Deployed on the left hand side of a back three under Stephen Robinson, Hammell can still out-jump Connor Sammon, so that’s something.

Richard Tait: 7/10

A big miss in Motherwell’s porous defence, sidelined throughout Stephen Robinson’s time at the club. Tait was on fire in the early part of the season, chipping in with six assists. While Tait is defensively suspect at times, his pace, haircut and tattoos showed he was a strong acquisition by Motherwell. A swift return next season should be a huge boost to the club.

Stephen McManus: 5/10

Joni Mitchell had a point, kind of. McManus and Heneghan struck up what was, as it turns out, our best defensive partnership available. Motherwell’s form fell off a cliff as he toiled through games with a groin problem. An aberration at Ibrox, as he forgot he isn’t Franco Baresi, cost Motherwell and Mark McGhee dearly, as the team failed to recover.

Ben Heneghan: 5/10

If Motherwell get decent money for Heneghan, it may be up there with those lads that sold Bebo to AOL. Heneghan is a very capable defender on his day, but remains error prone.

Joe Chalmers: 1/10

Super Joe. Joey Joe Joe Junior Chalmers. Rarely have I seen a player that the Fir Park crowd took to in such a positive way, despite being so utterly humpty at football. By all accounts, a very pleasant man, but way below the standard required. From running around Rugby Park on the opening day like he was wearing slippers, to his complete collapse against Dundee, Chalmers was nowhere near it. I’m sorry Joe.

David Ferguson: 4/10

Perhaps a little unlucky in the end to be released, Ferguson never really staked a claim at Fir Park. Last seen being treated for twisted blood as Jordan Jones saw him off.

Zak Jules: 1/10

Scotland’s great under-21 hope at centre half and my Lord is he terrible at football. Presumably an ambassador for Harry Redknapp’s toe-poke football boots. Whether playing at left-back or centre-half, the Aquatec lifeguards in the crowd must’ve been on edge throughout his time with us. Provided enough moments in a 5-1 drubbing by Dundee to start his own academy on how not to defend, so things are looking up for the big man.


Lionel Ainsworth: 5/10

Ross and Rachel. Will they ever work? Is screaming “WEWEREONABREAK” after game that isn’t on TV an option for us? Since his arrival under Stuart McCall, Lionel has been in and out of favour with three different managers. Was wonderful on the opening day at Rugby Park, and again against Killie as they secured top flight football at the end of the season. Ideally, we’ll see him convincing Elliot Frear to go for the cue-ball look.

Chris Cadden: 8/10

The biggest disappointment of Motherwell’s season was that because they were dreadful, Chris Cadden didn’t get to celebrate often. If we were rating the season on how well players celebrate, Cadden would get a 15/10. Often looked like he was playing through niggles and pain, and ended up a full-back under Stephen Robinson. Capable in whatever position he’s given, Cadden is one of a core that next season should be built around.

Keith Lasley: 6/10

Like Hammell, Lasley’s inclusion in the Motherwell midfield was as much a criticism of everyone else rather than him. Playing more games over the course of the season than anyone anticipated, Lasley remains in Motherwell’s top 3 of handsome players.

Carl McHugh: 8/10

Would undoubtedly have been a 10 if we hadn’t lost him for four months for growing a third eye socket. Signed, much to Derek Adams’ chagrin, from Plymouth in the summer, McHugh was clearly to be Motherwell’s midfield lynchpin, and much of the season’s problems can be pinned on his head exploding. Performed admirably at centre-half and scored two massive goals. Would follow him into battle.

Stephen Pearson: 3/10

Went off in the summer to play with Helder Postiga and came back an Indian Super League winner. Pearson returned with the performances you’d imagine a red haired footballer from Lanarkshire would produce after spending four months in a place with 30 degree average temperature.

Elliott Frear: 8/10

A player picked up in January and chucked in when we were in our deepest malaise, only to turn us round while playing an unfamiliar position. Placed at wing-back in Robinson’s ‘lets try and pick eleven players that aren’t Joe Chalmers’ formation, Frear has flourished. A pile of assists and a goal shows us that the former Forest Green Rovers player might have more than a little bit about him. A full pre-season and able to play in his position should see him flourish next season.

Craig Clay: 6/10

Somehow only 25 years old, Clay managed to appear 39 times for Motherwell this year without doing much of anything. If real life was Football Manager, his status would remain ‘looks like he is used to playing at a lower intensity’ for all time. Scored a wind assisted worldy against Inverness.

Lee Lucas: 4/10

Blessed with legs made of headphone cables, Lucas joined Motherwell after spending approximately nine years worth of being injured. Thankfully, he was given a short-term contract, which we renewed three times. Played like an absolute #baller against Ross County once, and attempted murder on Massimo Donati. Many had forgotten he was still here until he was released.

Allan Campbell: 7/10

Made his first start for the Steelmen on the Hogmanay not-a-derby against Accies, turning up with a popped collar and boots blacker than Dougie Imrie’s soul. Topped it off with my tackle of the season on some Accies nobody and was absolutely fantastic throughout. Predictably, he wasn’t seen again until April where he got on the end of a cross, and buried Inverness. Still a way to go in some aspects, but should be battling for a starting spot next season.

Ross MacLean: 6/10

Essentially gets a 6/10 for kicking Mikael Lustig and delivering the best cross seen at Fir Park this season. MacLean was another who succumbed to injury (our treatment room must’ve looked like something out of fucking Platoon around April) at the most inopportune moment. Took his chance well when it turned out he was the only player in the squad that could play on the left wing.


Louis Moult: 10/10

For Motherwell fans, if Louis cracked on to your bird in Karbon, I’m pretty sure the majority would shout ‘YOU ARE MOULT!’ and let him carry on with his smooth moves. Played through injury for most of the season and still outscored everyone but Celtic players and literal goal-machine Liam Boyce. Cards on the table, I’m in love with him.

Ryan Bowman: 6/10

Motherwell’s premier Herbalife distributor, Bowman was our third foray into paying for players from leagues sponsored by people who rent vans. Bowman started off his Motherwell career by ragdolling Accies’ centre-halves at Fir Park, and having a penalty taken off him. Perhaps a sliding doors moment for the big man, an early goal may have settled him and given him the confidence to kick on. Used increasingly sparingly, and badly, by Mark McGhee, Bowman improved under Robinson, burying a penalty in the last day’s irrelevance against Inverness.

James McFadden: 2/10

As we see Lasley, Hammell and Pearson play towards the twilight of their careers at Motherwell, it is easy to forget the quality that McFadden had. As a teenager he was one of the most gifted ever seen, as he forced Landrau to pick it out and pinged in wonderstrikes for Everton, he was a link between Motherwell and the big time. His free-kick against Hearts gave a glimpse of the quality he had. Looking forward to his four games next season.

Scott McDonald: 8/10

Took some time off from cheerleading Celtic on Sportscene to play football on Saturday afternoons. In a season with little to cheer about at times, McDonald’s ability to win free-kicks out of absolutely no contact whatsoever was remains tremendously entertaining. Has somehow kept Motherwell in the top flight on three separate occasions now, a top player.

Jacob Blyth: -1/10

If Blyth’s footballing ability was anywhere near his Instagram game, he’d be an absolute superstar. Truly committed to winning headers, he follows through with the muscle memory of winning it, despite being at least five feet away from it at any point. Thankfully, we gave him a two year deal, so we get another 12 months of him posing at funerals for a #newprofilepic.

Left the club:

Marvin Johnson: 3/10

Absolutely unplayable against Kilmarnock’s band of ragtags on day one. Disappeared to no-marks Oxford United to play left-back for loads of money.

Kieran Kennedy: 1/10

Spent most of last season trying to win tackles with his face, so no great surprise that his hips gave way. Missed the start of the season with an illness, which left him looking like an extra from the Dallas Buyers Club. Ended up heading off to part-time football at AFC Fylde, wherever that is.

Louis Laing: 1/10

Up there with the weirdest business of the season. Laing was up and down during his time at Motherwell, but his kick-it-forty-yards-away styl, when we had a single fit and actually playable centre-half on the books might’ve come in handy. Never mind, we’ve got Zak Jules and Joe Chalmers as cov… oh.

Dean Brill: 0/10

The only player I’ve seen on the Fir Park turf that was fatter than me when I ate my feelings and did a match-day experience.

Dom Thomas: 1/10

Stop trying to make Dom Thomas happen, it isn’t going to happen.

Luka Belic: 0/10

Who? Right up there in the pantheon of great Motherwell attackers alongside Semih Aydilek and Esteban Casagolda. Played 45 minutes in a development game and went home.


Mark McGhee: 2/10

Where did it all go wrong, Mark?

2:17pm, 21st of January. Stephen McManus’ stumbled pass through to Emerson Hyndman at Ibrox chucked both McGhee and Motherwell into a series of results which saw the inevitable happen. His meltdown at Pittodrie was of a truly world class standard, and followed it up with as bad a performance against Dundee as Motherwell have produced in decades. Arguably, hamstrung by injuries and suspensions, but in the end, rightfully binned.

Stephen Robinson: 7/10

Robinson returned to the club after a demoralising spell at Oldham, initially as assistant. Set to work after McGhee’s dismissal, Robinson stemmed the flow of goals and made brave decisions to keep us in games. Ultimately, Robinson was the right man for the job. His decision to start shipping out players plainly not of a sufficient standard almost immediately suggests he might be the right man next year, too.


Written by Graeme Thewliss

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