All player photographs used in this article are owned and accredited to https://www.motherwellfc.co.uk / Motherwell Football Club
Motherwell have just two matches remaining of the unique 2020/21 campaign, and whilst this season will no doubt be remembered for the non-footballing events, it still has been an eventful nine months at Fir Park.
With just 17 points taken from our opening 19 games, long-serving manager Stephen Robinson decided it was time to step away from his role at the club. Relegation worries were becoming more prevalent, and whilst fans weren’t allowed in the ground to voice their opinions, some sections of social media perhaps painted the image we were already down.
In though came Graham Alexander, whose almost staggering transformation took a team who often looked down and easily beaten, into a well-oiled game-winning machine. Several players have played their part in turning our season around, we’ll go over a few we think deserve to be in with a shout of the POTY award, before naming who we think is our winner!
Honourable Mention – Liam Kelly
Some might not get behind giving a player with only the 17 appearances POTY – but the question has to be asked, where would we be in the league right now if we hadn’t signed Liam Kelly?
The goalkeeper’s faced 79 shots since arriving at the start of January, with Wyscout’s data model suggesting your average stopper would’ve conceded just under 27 goals from those numbers. Kelly though has only let in 22, meaning he has an exceptionally high prevented goals ranking of just under 5, only being bettered by the extraordinary Benji Siegrist of Dundee United.
What this essentially means, and it would be backed up by almost every Motherwell fan, is that Kelly’s incredible shot-stopping has been a massive boost to Graham Alexander’s side. That being said though, perhaps the most impressive part is the stages of matches the keeper turns up in. Off the top of the head we’ve had huge stops when 1-0 up at Easter Road, 2-1 at home to Dundee United, 1-0 at home to Livi…
Week after week Liam Kelly is making match-defining saves, it can clearly be seen both this and his almost deafening command of the area is giving the Motherwell defence some much-needed confidence in their goalkeeper again, no doubt a huge factor in our upturn of results.
In fact, the only one down-part of seeing him in a Motherwell shirt is the reminder that he more than likely won’t be back next season, even though the player himself has stated an openness to staying, the money required to secure his services might just be too much.
Honourable Mention – Tony Watt
At the points where it felt like everything and anything was going against us, there was still always one bright spark in the Motherwell team running themselves into the ground and trying to make things happen, that spark was Tony Watt.
Under Stephen Robinson the 27-year-old was our top scorer, our player who took the most shots, our creative presence in the front three, our offensive duels leader, and our player taking the most touches in the opposition area. In short, he pretty much did everything you need an attacker to do in the final third.
Watt’s form at one point even led to sections of the media touting a Scotland call-up on the horizon, and by watching Motherwell play it became easy to see where the high praise was coming from. He was the one driving the team forwards and bringing energy into an attack that it’s fair to say really needed it.
The only reason we opted for the honourable mention tag rather than the actual award itself is that the second half of the season perhaps didn’t go the way the striker would have wished for. Whilst this largely could be down to the players he was outshining stepping up their game, Watt still only has one the goal since boxing day to his name, he still excels in the creative part of attack, but there’s one more player we feel deserves the POTY slightly more…
Our Player of the Year 2020/21 – Devante Cole
This season we feel there’s been one player who’s stood head and shoulders above the rest, one that’s had the most influence in pulling us up the table and taking us clear of any relegation worries, we’re of course talking about Devante Cole.
It’s often said that the difference between teams in the bottom six is having a top-quality finisher, Devante Cole at Fir Park has provided exactly what the side needed, netting nine times for the club in his last eighteen games. We’ve watched a player who arrived fairly rusty from an extended period without action develop into the essential goal-scoring piece in the Motherwell puzzle.
Everything about Graham Alexander’s set-up has become tailored to get the best out of our main man, and that’s clearly for good reason. Just like Kelly’s saves, Devante Cole’s goals come when we need them most. In six of the nine times Motherwell have taken the opening goal since GA’s appointment, the striker has been the one to open the scoring. That’s not even including relegation six-pointer equaliser in Dingwall, or the goals to give us breathing room against Hibs and Livingston.
When Motherwell have needed a goal this season, Devante Cole has more often than not been the one to step up. The absolute priority number one for the summer has to be securing his services for the new campaign. Whilst that might mean offering a chunk of the wage Declan Gallagher took up, by looking at his performances this season it surely has to be worth it.
Cole’s positional intelligence to consistently find himself in the right place at the right time, and his consistent top-standard finishing, has been a monumental factor in Motherwell’s resurgence up the table. We feel he’s done more than enough to be awarded our player of the year for 2020/21.