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Thread: Things at Motherwell are all starting to feel a bit too familiar. - BBC

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Things at Motherwell are all starting to feel a bit too familiar. - BBC

    After a solid start, manager Stuart Kettlewell is now feeling intense heat after Tuesday's defeat at Ross County extended a winless run to 12 games.

    This is a film we've seen before at Fir Park. We watched the sequel last season, now we may be watching part three.

    Graham Alexander was skipping through a rosy garden before being chased out of Europe by Sligo Rovers in July 2022. He departed by "mutual consent" the following day.

    That was after joining the club mid-season in January 2021, guiding them to top-flight survival, then finishing fifth in his only full campaign. But a grim run in 2022 culminated in humiliation against Sligo at the first European hurdle.

    Steven Hammell picked up the pieces. His success was on a smaller scale, winning four of his first six games, but just three victories came in his next 22. The former left-back's Sligo moment was a Scottish Cup exit at second-tier Raith Rovers.

    The baton was passed to Kettlewell after back-to-back wins during his interim spell resulted in him penning an 18-month contract. Then came 10 wins in 16, but that impressive form has fallen off a cliff in the past three months.

    "The buck stops with me," the Motherwell manager said after the midweek defeat in Dingwall, a loss he described as his "sorest night in football".

    But at what point does responsibility move from the dugout to a board who are facing the growing prospect of searching for a fourth manager in 16 months?

    Here, BBC Scotland looks at why a Fir Park culture shift is perhaps more important than another managerial switch.

    No CEO, 30 signings & questionable squad mentality
    A level of trust between board and supporters should be paramount at a fan-owned club, but confidence in the Fir Park hierarchy is eroding.

    It's more than 11 months since Alan Burrows announced he was leaving his role as chief executive. A club statement said Burrows would "continue in post until a replacement is ready to be appointed". He joined Aberdeen a month later.

    Dave Cormack, chairman of the Pittodrie club, thanked Motherwell counterpart Jim McMahon for making the process "a smooth transition". McMahon is yet to appoint a permanent CEO to replace Burrows. Next month, it will be a year since he stepped down.

    Seven months after Burrows made that decision, McMahon issued fans with "an update" on the club's pursuit of a new CEO, confirming Derek Weir had been filling the role for the past four months on an interim basis.

    Weir, former vice-chairman of Motherwell, will "continue to carry out the role of CEO until a permanent appointment has been made," McMahon added.

    It's unclear if, or how much, that boardroom unrest impacts the first team, but patterns are emerging. What is clear, though, is first-team recruitment and player trading hasn't been good enough, which Kettlewell also must take responsibility for.

    The club deserve credit for tying down Lennon Miller to an extended deal, while a reported fee of 500,00 for Kevin van Veen can be regarded as decent business for the 32-year-old, who joined Groningen in June.

    But Motherwell have signed off 30 permanent transfers in the two and a half years since Nick Daws was appointed head of recruitment. Excluding this summer's incomings, just eight remain in Kettlewell's squad.

    If a growing number of disgruntled fans get their way, they will need to be comfortable with seven of that squad going on to their fourth manager in a season and a half.

    The players' commitment has been questioned, but Liam Kelly says Kettlewell still has the squad's backing. "We've let the manager down massively," the captain said in Dingwall. "Talk's cheap, it's time for action."

    The interview is eerily similar to one the Scotland goalkeeper did after the cup defeat at Raith last February. For Kettlewell's sake, he will be hoping that's the only case of deja vu.

    What's gone wrong on the pitch?
    A manager who has overseen a 12-game winless run can't be immune from criticism.

    The pre-season questions for Motherwell centred around how they were going to replace the goals of Van Veen, who netted a record-breaking tally of 29 last season.

    But after 16 games this term, the 19 goals Motherwell have scored is only one off the 20 they were on at this stage last year. Instead, the issues have been at the other end.

    Kettlewell's side have conceded a league high of 28 goals. They have come from just 62 shots on target, meaning Motherwell are watching the ball hit the back of their net for every 2.2 shots on target they face.

    Couple that with Kelly's save percentage of 59.7% - the worst in the Premiership - and it's a recipe for a relegation battle.

    Weak defending at set-pieces has been an Achilles heel, while there have been erratic team selections.

    Blair Spittal started at left wing-back in a home defeat by Hearts, a game in which Kettlewell had five strikers at his disposal - starting three of them - before ending with centre-back Bevis Mugabi up top.

    Kettlewell was keen to use the next match, a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Celtic, as a catalyst for three upcoming winnable fixtures, but just one point from games against Dundee and County followed.

    Saturday's home encounter with St Johnstone is the final match in that three-game cluster. It very much has the feeling of make or break for the Motherwell boss.

    But until glaring off-field issues are addressed, the Fir Park manager count could continue to spike.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Aye, we know.

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