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End of Term Report Part 6 04/06/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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This was supposed to take me the whole summer. Well what a bummer…

29- Adam Thompson

Sometimes, kids come into the team and look nervous. Particularly in defensive positions… a nervous striker or midfielder can hide, I guess, and then they don’t look much at all. A nervous defender can’t hide. He looks tentative, hesitant, a little bit too deliberate. You can see the panic on the face when a striker gains an advantage, where an experienced defender would merely strive to rectify the situation, win the next battle. It’s fair to say that Adam Thompson isn’t one of those kids. The eighteen year old made his league debut – having already won his first cap for Northern Ireland – coming on at half time against Burnley, replacing a Dale Bennett whose confidence had been shot by his unfortunate own goal. The contrast was dramatic. Thompson attacked the game with relish, bounding forward like an excited puppy, crashing into challenges unlike an excited puppy, even getting up and on the end of a cross. The following Tuesday he was on at half-time again, scoring an equaliser against Preston. He’s not the finished article yet… an uncomfortable afternoon at the Riverside exposed some inexperience as a full back. You don’t get made captain of the U18s if the need to work on your positioning is perceived as a major issue, though.

Next Season: We’ll see more of Adam very quickly, one suspects. The only question is how quickly Thompson makes the Mariappa move to his natural centre-back position.

31- Andros Townsend

It would be fair to say that Malky Mackay doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to suffer fools gladly. Well here’s one fool who wasn’t suffered for very long at all. On his recruitment, a quick peek at Ipswich’s messageboards revealed a split in opinion; half thought that Roy Keane hadn’t given the Spurs winger a decent run in his earlier loan spell. The other half pointed out that he’d flattered to deceive in the chances he’d had, hardly demanding a greater role. His brief on-pitch experiences at Vicarage Road didn’t do much to prove a case either way… twisty, turny, mostly but not exclusively inconsequential wing play with a vague promise of more to come, like a “we must meet up for a drink some time” that may or may not come to fruition. Before we’d had much of an opportunity to formulate an opinion he was gone, despite what was looking like an alarming paucity of options in wide positions. And you have to kind of fill the gaps yourself.

Next Season: Little doubt over his ability, the question appears to be one of application and attitude. A further loan spell at Millwall saw Townsend hold down a place and win friends, so perhaps he’s buckled down a bit. Not pushing for a first team place at White Hart Lane just yet, at any rate, Millwall fans certainly seem to want him back.

32- Danny Drinkwater

There’s a certain pressure, it has to be said, that comes with being borrowed from Old Trafford. Not just because you’re a United player, but particularly because of the quality we’ve managed to add to our side in the not too distant past in borrowing kids from Sir Alex. It’s fair to say that Danny Drinkwater didn’t meet those standards. Signed to add numbers to a midfield that had suffered the loss of Jordon Mutch, the subsequent injury to Stephen McGinn should have given Drinkwater the platform to start regularly. Instead he managed just five sub appearances after McGinn’s season came to a premature end, often being overlooked in favour of younger alternatives, or players out of position. Rarely terrible, he was never more than adequate casting a light on his early departure from Cardiff City earlier in the campaign.

Next Season: Drinkwater took a long time to settle in at Huddersfield two seasons ago before impressing hugely from Christmas onwards. There’s a footballer in there somewhere; he needs to go some to make it at higher than Div 3 level though. With Darren Ferguson back in the Championship next season, don’t rule out Fergie Jr’s favoured transfer strategy, borrowing players from Dad, including Drinkwater as part of a job lot in August.

Manager- Malky Mackay

To state that Malky has done well feels rather redundant, an inadequate summary. It speaks volumes that a very poor end to the season in terms of results, leading to the slide slipping below halfway for the first time on the final day, didn’t provoke a groundswell of dissent, even from those corners predisposed to such things. Everyone knows the score, the number of big earners we’ve lost, the number of kids who we’ve had to blood and who came through with flying colours when there was little alternative for us but for them to work out. There was the potentially destabilising Burnley vacancy mid-season to get past too, and through all of it, as Malky has been quick to point out, we have been competitive and utterly watchable for the most part, even when the results haven’t been coming. We were even talking about the play-offs, not totally unrealistically, late on in the season, which should have been laughable. Thank heavens for context, so easily overlooked. An achievement of this magnitude at a club with resources and Malky would have been long gone.

Next Season: When Brendan Rodgers left, I commented that he had made a decision that gave him much less slack. At Watford, given the financial constraints and being a new manager, anything he achieved would have been a bonus, any failure would be unlikely to tarnish his reputation going forward. At Reading, bigger expectations, less accommodation for being a newbie, perhaps less trust afterwards given the nature of his departure from Watford. So it proved, and what Rodgers has achieved subsequently hinged as much on his slightly surprising ability to secure another job at this level so quickly as on his ability. He’s paid Swansea back in spades, in all fairness. But if Rodgers had everything to lose by leaving Watford, one wonders with a heavy heart quite how much more Mackay can achieve by staying, assuming that he has offers. He has already issued dark portents about the risks inherent in running again with such a tight – or tighter – playing budget. Risks for the club, to be sure. Risks for Mackay too. As already discussed, a track record isn’t always assessed in context… two seasons of successfully defying gravity playing exciting football with young players doesn’t read vastly worse than three years doing the same, but significantly worse than two good years followed by a third where we didn’t get the breaks with injuries and where the strategy of running with a low playing budget finally caught up with us. Malky is a huge asset, far bigger than any of the individual players for my money. He’s made it clear that he believes in seeing things through. We’ll learn a lot about Mr Bassini from whether Mackay’s still in position in August. Mackay will be learning about Bassini by the day. Let’s hope he likes what he sees.

That’s it. Limited scope for commenting meaningfully on departees Ellington, Henderson and Sadler, all of whom spent much of the season on loan and made their final appearances for the Orns over a season ago. Hopefully next season the likes of Assombalonga, Isaac, Bond and Connor Smith have progressed further further than the bench and we’ll be able to comment.

That’s it from me for the review, although my co-editor may choose to add his own thoughts in due course…

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Comments»

1. AndyBangladesh - 04/06/2011

thanks, matt. So, we need somebody to play alongside eustace/jenkins, plus a leftback, and hope that some combo of sordell, deeney, whichelow and wiemann can be an effective strikeforce?

Matt Rowson - 04/06/2011

And to hang on to our manager. In case I was ambiguous on that point.

straightnochaser - 05/06/2011

I second that emotion…

2. AndyBangladesh - 05/06/2011

well yeah, the ‘hang on to’ list includes mm and just about everyone else – no?

3. AndyBangladesh - 06/06/2011

Possible cut-price replacement for DG: Marlon King. Discuss.

Matt Rowson - 06/06/2011

Cut-price in that we wouldn’t have to pay a fee. Salary would be an issue though I’d have thought, if we’re competing with the likes of Leicester.

4. Ian Lay - 06/06/2011

As always Matt, thanks for your end of season report. Highly enjoyable read which makes the summer break so much more tolerable. But then again you know I have that other game you dislike so much to keep me amused. Come on you Cidermen! 🙂

Matt Rowson - 06/06/2011

Tsk.

5. Harefield Hornet - 06/06/2011

Not really related to any of the above but this is the only decent forum where I feel I can get something off my chest. Despite all the rubbish on the BBC, in the press and even Swansea City’s web site. DANNY GRAHAM WAS NOT SIGNED BY AND DID NOT PLAY UNDER BRENDAN RODGERS AT WATFORD. YOU ARE NOT BEING REUNITED BRENDAN – Have you learnt nothing about false sound bites ? Rodgers departed 5/6/09 DG arrived 2/07/09 – Best of luck to DG and indeed Swansea City next season though, having said all that! Have a wonderful summer everyone!

6. Old Git - 06/06/2011

There can’t be anyone seriously with a brain in his/her head who would think that the return of the repellent Marlon King would be anything other than appalling.

Matt Rowson - 06/06/2011

I would tend to agree, but I saw the big flashing neon “can of worms” sign on that argument and carefully put it back on the shelf….

7. Marcus - 06/06/2011

Adam Thompson – he’s a natural.

8. AndyBangladesh - 07/06/2011

Clarification: ‘just about everyone else’ doesn’t include a fringe player if someone’s willing to pay a million for him. Good luck though, Will.

Harefield Hornet - 07/06/2011

Despite him being a “fringe player” I’m more gutted about Will going than DG in as much as DG’s departure was inevitable and £3.5M will keep the club going a bit longer!, but I was rather hoping we’d see Will develop into something special over the next couple of years. He’s got something about him and I’m very sad to see him go. What worries me is who the bloody hell is the next one out of the door?

Matt Rowson - 07/06/2011

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the question is whether you see Buckley improving or not. I’m not convinced by the likelihood of that, based on last season, and as such £1m is great business.

Your observation touches a pertinent point though. Everyone’s head knows that Graham is going to go, much as their heart objects. So when Buckley’s sale comes along there’s already stored up frustration looking for a viable target… even tho Buckley is a player we can much more afford to lose than Graham.

9. JohnF - 07/06/2011

I agree about Buckley Matt, and Danny, although that doesn’t mean I’m happy to see them go. What I am concerned to know is how much involvement Malky had in this and what his feelings are. He has already expressed unhappiness at Saracens playing here right through the season. Is Bassini piling straws on to Malky’s back?

Harefield Hornet - 07/06/2011

I think Eustace, Sordell, Taylor and Cowie’s whereabouts before the start of next season is the answer to that one. Strange how everyone (including myself) has stopped thinking/talking about Loach – he could also be another decisive factor.


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