Have Motherwell’s Academy Developed Another Gem?

Photograph courtesy of Pexels

The list of quality footballers to come through the Motherwell academy is growing year-on-year. Whilst David Turnbull and Allan Campbell are the two known to most, the club made over £1 Million from the sale of James Scott to Hull last year, and received considerable development fees for Chris Cadden and Jake Hastie when the pair left at the end of their contracts.

However after impressive performances in the last three outings, ‘Well fans are starting to believe Barry Maguire could be the latest success story to come from the prestigious set-up.

Maguire turns 23 this year, so has had to bide his time a bit more than the other examples did. Having only made 14 appearances in a Motherwell shirt before this season he predominantly has only covered for injuries, and never really got a consistent run of game time. This season though things are definitely looking much more positive, with the Scotland Under-21 international already appearing 17 times in 2020/21.

Despite originally breaking through as a central defender Maguire’s confidence on the ball has always meant he could step into midfield when required, and when Liam Polworth received a one-match ban for his sending off at Aberdeen, it’s fair to say he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

How Has He Played?

Lanarkshire-born Maguire has so far slotted into the left of Graham Alexander’s midfield three, the space Polworth has occupied at Fir Park for the best part of his year and a half at the club.

Whilst perhaps not offering as much of the creativity from open play an in-form Polworth does, the 22-year-old still contributes massively to the Motherwell attacks, he recovered possession in the opposition-half five times against Dundee United and six times against Ross County, and with the new boss encouraging this sort of tenacity it’s easy to see why Barry Maguire has became a key player in this Motherwell side.

The midfield three as a unit have helped Motherwell become a lot more defensively solid, Crawford sits deep, whilst Maguire and fellow academy-graduate Allan Campbell position slightly further forward to support the attacks. Both players get on the ball and aid the team’s build-up play, and by watching Devante Cole’s equaliser up at Ross County you can see this in action.

Maguire takes the ball deep, spins his man, and sprays the ball out to the overlapping O’Donnell, starting an impressive move which lead to the team scoring a crucial equaliser. In the Dundee United game it was his set-pieces that caught the eye. Capable of swinging the ball in on both feet Maguire put several well-weighted crosses into the box, his wide free-kick presented Mugabi with a golden chance to net the opener, before perfectly executing a routine off the training ground from the resulting corner.

In summary; Barry Maguire has impressed massively since coming into Motherwell’s starting XI, his composure and passing ability on the ball mixed with being able to effectively win back possession has seriously impressed so far. The youngster perfectly suits Alexander’s system, and should this form continue he may well become a key player in his Motherwell team.

What Does the Manager Think?

‘Well boss Graham Alexander has been speaking highly in the media about the 22-year-old, he said:

“He’s got all the attributes to be a top professional. We just watch him in training and he practises free-kicks with his right foot and left foot – he can play off both feet.”

“I’ve got confidence in him, like I do all my players, and if I see someone practicing then they must have the ability to do it. It shows his quality that he’s able to do that.”

“It’s one of the attributes he’s got (taking set-pieces) but I think he can also score goals off both feet and that’s the next step for him.”

“(In the Dundee United game) I thought he was exceptional. He’s growing into a fully fledged first-team footballer because it’s okay coming in for the odd game but it’s about consistency across five, 10 or 15 games.”

Featured Image Credit – Motherwell FC

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