Are Motherwell prepared for the season ahead?
This has been one of the biggest re-building jobs Motherwell have had to do in recent times, with about 16 players leaving at the end of last season. So far the players who have come in look as though they will be suitable replacements, particularly with Scott McDonald having returned over the summer. The only missing piece as far as I can see is a goalkeeper as I don’t believe we can rely on Dan Twardzik for the season.
As far as pre-season has gone the results have been a bit mixed but manager Ian Baraclough has given everyone a chance to play ahead of the opener against Inverness. Having seen a couple of the matches I think the games were chosen well and should set us up for a good start to the season.
What signing are you most looking forward to seeing?
Ian Baraclough has brought in two strikers from the lower leagues of England, Louis Moult and Wes Fletcher. Both have strong goalscoring records at that level, with Fletcher promising us 20 goals this season, I hope that proves to the the case.
I think the key man will be Scott McDonald, he had a major influence on the team during the run in of last season, he also played a major role in the two play off games without scoring. He was asked to play in a more defensive role and played it perfectly. This was typical of his time at the club in the second half of the season where he was an example to all of the others around him, this is another major benefit of having him back again.
At the moment, as I mentioned above, it is in the goalkeeping position. Twardzik is the only recognised first team keeper with back up from U20 keeper Brett Long. Hopefully someone of the calibre of Darren Randolph or John Ruddy will be brought in soon!
How would you rate Ian Baraclough and can he improve upon last year?
Ian Baraclough had one job when he came in last season, and that was to keep us in the Premiership, he just managed it!
He came in at a difficult time replacing Stuart McCall who had taken the team as far as he could. Baraclough then had to put his own stamp on the team which he did in a bit of a hurry, but the signings of veterans Stephen Pearson and Scott McDonald were master strokes. It will be interesting to see how he gets on this season when he has had a summer to build his own squad.
Anyone or any club you are worried about that may cause problems for you?
We have always had a rivalry with Hearts (maybe a bit one-sided) therefore I am a bit concerned to see them back in the top flight, and looking strong after a year in the Championship.
Expectations for this season?
Not high, given we were best of the rest three years in a row last season has help re-calibrate where we sit in the Scottish game. I would be happy with a mid-table finish and a decent run in either of the two cups.
Where will Motherwell finish in the league this season?
I believe it will be between 6th and 8th.
What was the highlight of last season?
The highlight has to be the two wins over Rangers in the play offs, as I have joked on a number of occasions that it was almost worth finishing 11th for those two games – although none of us wants to go through it again!
What was the low point?
Losing 0-1 to Dundee at Fir Park in February when we dropped to 12th for the first time in the season, and the penny really dropped that relegation was on the cards. I remember going home thinking there was no fight in the squad and that we were doomed, thankfully we scraped over the line.
Who will win the Premiership?
Celtic, no one can compete with their buying power, just ask Dundee United!
Who will be relegated?
Hamilton – it was only their run under previous manager Alex Neil which kept them up last season and I can see Canning being the first manager to get sacked.