I think there is a fair argument to be made that this is, if not the worst, certainly one of the worst Motherwell teams of the last 30 years or so. We have had teams that might have been in greater relegation bother but in absolute terms this is a squad bereft of real quality.
How many players in this team are above average for the league? Moult? Probably, though he is not without limitations. McDonald? Still just about but that depends on sample size and his form at any given point. The rest? No better than ordinary. Can we blame McGhee for this? Well its certainly true that many are his signings. Tait - unremarkable at best. Heneghan - raw. Bowman - clearly not of the required standard. Clay/Lucas/McHugh - practically interchangeable - not without decent touches but no pace, slow feet, no drive. There is no question the results of his signing choices are poor but how much better should we *expect* rather than hope them to be?
I am not sure thats a question most of us are equipped to answer. Its apparent now that non-league players from England are typical of the level that most teams in Scotland can shop at and these players are available at that level for a reason. If you are looking for something above that standard then yes, you might find a few but the balance of probability suggests that most will but just what you would expect them to be. Now thats obviously a way that a manager can add value - by finding the diamonds but unless you can either utilise relative spending power or find some sort of market inefficiency thats still a gamble and even the most knowledgeable gambler can still be beaten by pure dumb chance.
So i cant with any certainity criticise McGhee for his lack of success in recruitment but we do need to look at where this club is headed. Assuming there is going to be one, what is the next good team going to look like and where will those players come from? Whats the strategy that gets us from this point where the players are poor, the football is consequently uninspiring and results are inevitably mediocre?
If that strategy is picking up diamonds from the lower leagues in England then we are doomed. Any market inefficiency there is rapidly swallowed up as its identified as a valid source for players. Out only route out is always going to be through youth development. McGhee has had a chunk of criticism here about his commitment to that cause but there is no point in putting the players in the team if you cant attract and develop the players in the first place. Where other, perhaps bigger clubs, might in the past have neglected their systems and relied on buying in talent we now have well resourced academies at the big city clubs and elsewhere. Even home grown players dont come free and unless we can invest heavily this again is a gamble.
So the verdict on McGhee? If he can get a relatively organised team on the park with the resources he has and keep us away form relegation then thats fine. If he can do it year on year till the point we luck out and unearth some decent players then that might be the best we can hope for too.