Theo Bair set Motherwell challenge as Stuart Kettlewell urges hitman to prove he's no one season wonder

Motherwell striker Theo Bair is in the PFA Scotland Premiership Team of the Year
Motherwell striker Theo Bair is in the PFA Scotland Premiership Team of the Year -Credit:SNS Group

Stuart Kettlewell has challenged Theo Bair to prove he’s no one season wonder and join the list of famous number nines in the claret and amber.

The Motherwell hitman has struck 13 goals in the Premiership so far and was rewarded for his stunning form with a spot up front in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year this week. It’s been a sensational transformation for the Canada international who only managed one solitary goal in 18 months at St Johnstone before Kettlewell swooped to take him to Lanarkshire. But the Well boss insists there’s more to come from the 6ft 3in powerhouse. He said: “You need to build a story, I keep saying this.

“Theo’s had a good run. But the challenge now becomes that consistency, how do you continually do it, how do you improve on what you did previously. It’s just starting to use that game experience, to use your voice, to communicate with your team-mates in-game and off it, drills and between sessions. To solve problems, to come up with solutions.

“With Theo in particular, there’s this real focus on ‘I need to improve’ and ‘I need to get better’. He’s really starting to understand how he can pose problems to the opposition.

“We had a spell at the start, I think he scored on the opening day against Dundee but then we went on a barren spell. It’s just trying to make sure that you still influence games, especially when you’re a goal-scorer not at your best.

“That’s a mentality aspect and a bit of nous – just to sniff out a chance. We’ve done a lot of work surrounding the selection of finishing because he’s missed a lot of chances in that as well.

“It’s 13 league goals, but he’s also had a lot that he’s kicked himself with that he’s missed. Glaring opportunities as well. I think it’s not festering on them or that knocking you back. You remain with that positive mind-set. When he misses those opportunities, what you might have seen previously was a little bit of a body language that his one chance had come and gone.

“Now, though, he believes others will come and that he will take them. So, it’s a bit psychological, it’s a bit in the mind at times. You’ll ask him, we work on specific areas. There’s been tweaks and changes.

“But I just think continually playing, seeing those opportunities and situations, makes you a better player. We still think there’s plenty more to come, loads more from him to grow within that.”

Fir Park has been home to some of Scottish football’s deadliest strikers down the years including most recently Kevin van Veen, Michael Higdon, John Sutton and Scott McDonald. And Kettlewell reckons Bair can push into that territory. He said: “How did I sell it to Theo? I sold it with the history of the number nines at Motherwell.

“You can go through so many of them. But the football club has a history of really good number nines. I think it’s something that’s synonymous with this club, so I need to sell that to the next number nine – whether it’s Theo Bair or Mika Biereth at one point. At Ross County and Motherwell, I’ve worked with some real top number nines. You have to make them feel comfortable and you have to give them that creative licence, give them that opportunity to flourish. And hopefully here with Theo it’s a longer term thing.”

Well travel to Aberdeen this weekend for the first of their post split fixtures and Kettlewell has challenged his side to emulate last season’s seventh-place finish. He said: Can we strive to finish top of the bottom six? We are competing against some big clubs and good players but that has to be the aim.”