This is an excerpt from this week's Claret and Amber Alert, a free Motherwell newsletter written by Graeme McGarry that goes out every Thursday at 6pm. To sign up, click here.

When you’re in the wrong half of the table, and (mercifully, don’t get me wrong) at least a little bit clear of the relegation places, the post-split fixtures can hold all the appeal of re-watching Dougie Imrie’s recent Cappielow celebrations or having red-hot pokers jammed into your eyes. I’ll let you decide which would be worse.

Regardless, they are now upon us, with the ‘Well kicking off their bid to be ‘best of the rest’ (or best of a bad bunch…again, dealer’s choice) this Saturday with a visit to face Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

So, while the season might not technically yet be over for Motherwell, the fact that the team fell just a little bit short in their valiant efforts to nip into the top six at the last means it sort of feels that way, even though manager Stuart Kettlewell has clearly been pressing home to his players this week that it isn’t time for the flip-flops and the inflatable crocodiles just yet.

No doubt by the time kick-off arrives at Pittodrie we’ll all be booting every ball again, but it does seem a natural juncture to reflect upon a season that promised so much at the beginning, threatened to unravel in spectacular and disastrous fashion, and now is rather difficult to assess.

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The cliché goes – and there is truth to it – that staying in the league represents a successful season for Motherwell. So, touch wood, by that metric it would have to be said that it is (almost) job done by Kettlewell and his players.

Their internal aim though would have been to make it into the top half, and they fell just short of that target.

On the other hand, when you examine the budgets in the division, which are always a source of contention, Motherwell may well have the second lowest wage expenditure in the division. The correlation of spend to success isn’t always an exact one, but if that is indeed the case, then it would have to be said that The Steelmen are currently punching above their weight.

Still, to borrow a phrase from numerous report cards of my own back in the day, I think Motherwell’s performance over the course would have to fall into the ‘could do better’ category. And I think the manager would probably agree.

There was the incredible 15 match run without a win. The cups were underwhelming too, with the early League Cup exit to St Mirren and the afore-mentioned disaster against Morton in the Scottish Cup providing little light relief from those toils on league duty.

On the flip side, there was a good recovery from those dark mid-winter days when it seemed for so long that the team was destined for the relegation play-offs at the very best. There was the brilliant win at Ibrox, the first in the league for 27 years.

And the manager has been able to improve players under his tutelage, with the likes of Lennon Miller and Blair Spittal flourishing and Theo Bair completely transforming from the confidence-sapped lost cause who rocked up to Fir Park in the summer into one of the top strikers in the division.

You would have got long, long odds on his inclusion in the PFA Scotland team of the season back in August, but his place was fully merited, and is a great reflection on both the player himself and the manager who had such belief in him.

So, has this season been a success? Providing Motherwell do indeed stay up, then on balance, I think it has been. With caveats. But even keeping Motherwell in the position they currently find themselves is going to be hugely difficult next season.

New investment is coming, but Kettlewell has already said that he doesn’t expect it to significantly alter his playing budget for next season. Liam Kelly will likely depart, as will key team member Spittal, who has a pre-contract agreement with Hearts.

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The others who are out of contract at the end of the season are Callum Slattery, Bevis Mugabi, Stephen O’Donnell, Calum Butcher, Paul McGinn, Jon Obika, Callan Elliot (remember him?) and Barry Maguire, while Georgie Gent, Jack Vale, Adam Devine and Oli Shaw will return to their parent clubs following the expiry of their loan deals. Sam Nicholson’s future also remains unclear.

The departures of some will be mourned more than others, of course, but there may be quite the rebuild ahead.

That, though, is for the future. Reflecting on the recent past, this may not have quite been a season to live long in the memory, but it hasn’t been one to entirely forget either.


Full credit has to go to the club for their decision to freeze season ticket prices for next season, with the announcement coming alongside a video that had me ready to storm the Excelsior, never mind just renewing the weans’ tickets.

At a time when the cost of living is impacting the community, this was more than just a token gesture, but an important indication of how cognisant the club are of their role and their place within that community.

So, well done all, and hopefully the fans respond by snapping them up in good numbers.