June 16, 2024

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It’s games like Wednesday night’s defeat at Easter Road that make you wish the memory eraser from Men In Black was a real thing.

The actual man in black on the night (well, blue, actually, but you get my drift) made a ridiculous penalty call to put Motherwell behind, granted, but the rest of the evening was the sort of end of season fare that fills me with admiration for the decent number of away fans who forked out to see it.

It was entirely forgettable from a Motherwell point of view, apart really from one moment of brilliance from Lennon Miller.

The youngster had a good game overall and was comfortably Motherwell’s best player, but it was a pass with the outside of his foot that picked out Stephen O’Donnell on the right that stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.

It was a moment of rare quality in a game short on it, and these are the things we are now becoming accustomed to seeing from the 17-year-old. Technically, he is a level above, and it is a pleasure to watch his development in a claret and amber jersey.

Motherwell fans aren’t the only ones watching Miller though, which leads me to the quandary that may well face the club in the summer.

READ MORE: How will Liam Kelly be remembered, and how do Motherwell replace him?

Miller extended his contract last November and his deal runs until June 2026. So, the club have a strong negotiating position should bids arrive over the coming weeks. He signed that deal with a view to be staying in a place where he has been trusted to play first team football, with both he and his family seeing Fir Park as a great environment in which to continue his football education.

So, there won’t be pressure coming from the player’s side to force a move. Every player has their price though, and the dilemma that may face the club’s hierarchy – with another squad revamp required in the summer – is whether they cash in on their prodigious talent now and invest that money in other areas.

The same applies to Motherwell’s other (a phrase I hate) ‘sellable assets’. Like Theo Bair. If the club can get close to a million quid for him, then surely that is worth considering, despite his brilliant form in the last six months or so.

Again, it would be a sore one to lose a player who has improved so much, has 21 goal involvements this term and may go on to improve further. But as the Jake Hastie experience taught us, it is also sometimes good to strike while the iron’s hot.

The reality is that with so many players out of contract, there has to be money raised to be spread throughout the team. Liam Kelly will be away, so a new goalie is required. Aston Oxborough is out of contract too, so maybe two.

O’Donnell, Paul McGinn, Bevis Mugabi and Callum Butcher have yet to sign new deals, and the latter two on that list would appear unlikely to be hanging around at the very least.

There are a host of loan signings of course, and I would imagine the club would be keen to bring back Georgie Gent, Jack Vale, and even maybe Adam Montgomery.

But there are a lot of holes to be filled further up the pitch too, and even though you could probably argue that this season over the piece has been about level par against minimum reasonable expectations, seven figures would go a long way to raising the quality level throughout the team.

For me, I would do what I can to keep Miller for as long as possible, with his presence in a Motherwell jersey beneficial both for the team and for the player at this early stage of his career. There is real potential, I feel, in a midfield of Miller, Davor Zdravkovski and Andy Halliday, who maybe needs a good pre-season behind him to show his best.

READ MORE: Can Motherwell’s season be classed as a successful

That would be a nice blend of youth, quality, energy, dig and experience, and give manager Stuart Kettlewell something to build his team around. And then, next summer, there may be a conversation to be had as he enters the final year of his contract.

If a big offer comes in for Bair though (and by that, I mean any deal north of a million pounds that includes a healthy chunk of that up front), then I would thank the big man for his services and take the cash.

Unlike Wednesday night’s game, his contribution this season won’t easily be forgotten. And if he stays at Fir Park next season and bangs in the goals once again, then great.

But a couple in the Copa America and a nice big fat cheque arriving in ML1 shortly thereafter may be the best thing for both parties in the long run.

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