Motherwell stuck in the past with McFadden return

While it’s always nice to see a club hero return, the James McFadden signing poses more questions for Motherwell’s signing policy, writes Graeme Thewliss

Stevie Hammell, James McFadden and Stephen Pearson celebrate their Scotland under-21 call-up in September 2002. Picture: JP

HE spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with James McFadden, once again.

It’s been an odd season down on Fir Park Street; Ian Baraclough, full of the joys of life and a fresh regime at Motherwell lasted eight matches, before being replaced with the tried and true Mark McGhee.

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The last year has had a feeling of ‘getting the band back together’, with stalwarts Keith Lasley and Steven Hammell being rejoined in January by Stephen Pearson and David Clarkson over the summer.

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Today, the fab four became a five with James McFadden re-joining the club on a short term deal. A reunion seeing five players who started on the final day drubbing of Livingston in the 2002-03 season back together in claret and amber, presumably a January raid of Aberdeen for Paul Quinn is in the offing.

It seems trite even to have to mention McFadden’s contribution to Motherwell; a sparkling light in our darkest of dark days, a transfer fee to drag us out of administration, an emotional tribute to the late Phil O’Donnell while at Everton. Then a return to drag second place chasers over the line at just the right moment in 2013 and a fully paid up member of the Well society. Few, if any can claim to have had a greater significance in Motherwell’s recent past.

A final return, though, may just be one too many. Within a squad which saw seven first team players sitting in the stand against Dundee, it is difficult to see where McFadden fits.

In a bloated and unbalanced squad, Motherwell have three first team goalkeepers, four (with the emergence of young Ben Hall) centre-halfs and now six centre-forwards, with another out on loan. This poor squad and budget management leads to shortfalls elsewhere, with very little cover, if any, at full-back.

Given their desire to develop and sell on talent, adding another face to the squad simply adds another query on their transfer policy. Motherwell’s business model has been, and continues to be, built on the principle that young players are sold on to generate income. With the busy festive season upon us, opportunities for the likes of Dylan Mackin, Dom Thomas and Chris Cadden will appear. As much as McFadden will surely bring to training and the dressing room, anybody taking game time from some younger talents could be well be harming the very model Motherwell are attempting to build on.

At this point, Motherwell need no more engagement with spirits.