Motherwell: Have the Steelmen lost their mettle?

Stuart McCall
McCall has been with Motherwell since 2010

A late goal on the last day of the season clinched a second successive runners-up spot for Motherwell.

The Lanarkshire club were also third in 2011-12 and have not finished in the bottom half of the table since 2009.

But a quick look at the Premiership table shows only Ross County below Stuart McCall's Steelmen as winter approaches.

BBC Scotland's Jane Lewis visited Fir Park to meet the assistant manager, the captain and a frustrated fan.

Kenny Black
Motherwell assistant manager Kenny Black insists the players' spirits remain high

Kenny Black, Motherwell assistant manager

"The team has set high levels in terms of consistency since Stuart and myself have been here. We finished third behind Celtic and Rangers and second on two occasions.

"So when things don't go well it's there for everyone to see. Second bottom of the league is not a particularly nice place to be.

"We've had two or three difficult results and that does affect confidence and we've been a bit unlucky with injuries.

"But the lads are still in high spirits. I think they realise the reason why we are losing these games is down to people making poor decisions at important times.

"Self-inflicted mistakes are costing us goals. On the run we are on now, we are being punished for any mistakes. If we can cut those out, it gives us a chance.

"We lost Shaun Hutchinson, which was a big blow, but we knew that. Players are always going to be in the shop window and it's the same for a lot of teams.

"It's frustrating not to get a transfer fee for the likes of Shaun Hutchinson, Darren Randolph, Chris Humphrey and other lads.

"Starting on Saturday against Dundee, we are looking to build a bit of momentum and start picking up points."

Keith Lasley, Motherwell captain

Keith Lasley
Keith Lasley believes the players' confidence has taken a knock due to recent results

"We came back with a couple of good results against Ross County and Celtic after the last international break, so hopefully we can do that again.

"This is probably the stickiest patch we've had in recent years. It's been disappointing and it's up to us to change that.

"It's a hard league and people want to shoot you down.

Motherwell after nine games...
2013-14 - third place on 16 points2012-13 - sixth place on 13 points
2011-12 - third place on 16 points2010-11 - third place on 16 points

"I don't think there is a magic formula or any one thing we can change. It's football, you are going to have little periods like this.

"It's up to everyone to try and up their levels. It's not rocket science.

"Confidence has taken a knock, that's natural. But if we get that back, we feel we're more than capable of challenging again.

"There's nothing we can do about the results that have gone. What we can change is in the games coming up. We're not looking back, we're only looking forward."

Graham Barnstable, Motherwell fan
Graham Barnstable believes the club needs to stick together through the rough patches

Graham Barnstable, Motherwell fan

"The manager hasn't had continuity of selection this season, some key players have been injured or suspended. That's led to a bit of imbalance in the side.

"After the high of the Aberdeen result which clinched second place last season, I was really looking forward to the campaign.

"It's much the same squad this season and I was hoping we'd hit the ground running.

"Going out of Europe to a team from Iceland took a lot of air out of the bubble for some people. That was an opportunity missed, as was the defeat to Hamilton in the League Cup

"We thought we had bounced back with good results against Ross County and Celtic but the last two defeats have increased the frustration level.

"Something has just not clicked. We brought Henrik Ojamaa back, which there was a big buzz around but he's not been 100%, which I'm sure he would be the first to agree.

"Stuart McCall has punched above the weight of the club's budget and has enough in the bank to deserve the time to turn it round. He has taken us to best-of-the-rest three years in a row.

"Everyone needs to pull together, the fans, the club, the players, and get us out of the hole we are currently in."