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End of Term Report Part 3 21/05/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

9- Troy Deeney

Amidst the whirlwind of another season of high player turnover and squad rebuilding, not to mention the emergence of Sean Murray, it’s easy to overlook quite how much Troy Deeney’s stock has risen in the past twelve months.  His form had held up as well as anyone’s as the team wobbled at the end of last season, but he was being fielded in an unnatural-feeling wide midfield position. His lack of goals seemed to prohibit his involvement in his preferred role and although he put in a good shift out wide, it hardly seemed likely that a glut of goals from that position was on its way to see him restored to the centre.  After the summer departure of Danny Graham, Chris Iwelumo’s arrival meant that Deeney’s route to his preferred position was still blocked.  Regularly involved from the bench, Troy only started a handful of games before winning his place back decisively in mid-December.  The landmark event in Troy’s season, arguably, was the sale of Marvin Sordell;  it was intimated that Troy didn’t find Marvin the easiest striker to play alongside.  Coincidence or not, Troy scored an unprecedented 9 goals in 17 starts after Sordell’s departure, secured third place in the Player of the Season vote and in the remarkable, dramatic goal of the season against Ipswich, once again drew comparison with his erstwhile Walsall strike partner, Tommy Mooney.

Next Season: based on his on-field activity, Troy is nailed on for a starting place and finally looks the part without any need for caveat or qualification.

10- Chris Iwelumo

A season of two halves and no mistake.  Iwelumo initially looked like a decent coup; a beast of a striker who always caused us problems as an opponent and had established a career with clubs that hovered between the top two tiers.  It’s fair to say that he didn’t hit the ground running;  a pre-season injury at Wimbledon interrupted his build-up, and although he was deemed fit to be named in the starting eleven at Turf Moor on the opening day he made limited impact early in the campaign.  Hampered by a lack of mobility and of an apparent inability to get off the ground he was ultimately all but written off in the eyes of most, a name to add to the catalogue of failed target men at Vicarage Road with the likes of Trevor Senior and Kerry Dixon.  So it stayed, pretty much, the nagging suspicion that there had to be more to Big Chris dismissed with that cover-all for all older players out of form, “his legs have gone”.  Folk were saying the same about John Eustace two years ago, they were wrong then too.  Whether it was missing pre-season, whether it was needing games to play himself into fitness, Big Chris’ form came back with a vengeance.  It started slowly, with an industrious showing at home to Leicester.  At Upton Park he was indisputably impressive, a significant part of a fine team performance.  Against Coventry we used the adjective “nimble” for the first time.  And the highlight was a simply monstrous afternoon at Elland Road, where he was everything we had hoped he could be.

Next Season: Chris undoubtedly turned his form around, but as one of the club’s bigger earners he still goes down as a disappointment on balance. If he prolongs his end of season form for an entire campaign, we’ll be forgetting we ever doubted him.

11- Craig Forsyth

Some players look the part straight away.  Others need time before it all comes together;  in the meantime they can present a frustrating mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous.  Richard Johnson, in his early years, was one such before he emerged as the awesome pendulum of a side that won back-to-back promotions.  Jamie Hand was a similar to Johnson at a young age but never pulled it together.  Dominic Foley was a striker of occasionally sublime poise and vision who on other occasions looked like a baby giraffe on roller skates.  Craig Forsyth is a different style of player to all three… but echoes them in his combining things that are quite wonderful – physical presence, tidy control, that shot – with things that really aren’t, yet.  But he’s only 23, and younger in a sense than Jonathan Hogg, say, who is a similar age in years but has had a starkly contrasting upbringing with a Premier League club as opposed to Dundee in the semi-pro Scottish First Division. Additionally, as Graham Taylor was always keen to emphasise, tall blokes can take a few years to grow into their physique;  Ross Jenkins Sr and Peter Crouch two obvious examples who made limited impact in their early twenties (I’m 6’1 and still waiting for my body strength to catch up…). Lack of street-wiseness is Craig’s biggest problem;  at his worst, and actually that second half against Leicester was pretty bad until right at the end, he’s looked every inch the rookie thrown in at the deep end.  But there’s clearly stuff their to work with;  five goals in seventeen starts showcasing a venomous shot will buy him time, one hopes, even if he did dangerous things to expectations with that fine early header at Burnley.  One has to hope that the crowd afford him time.  Even Johnno spent a good year or so fully emerged from his chrysalis before getting the appreciation his performances had long deserved.

Next Season: Craig only started three games from the beginning of November onwards, demonstrating Sean’s stated belief that he’s one for the future.  Work in progress.

12- Lloyd Doyley

There’s a challenge in finding new things to say about Lloyd.  Solid, check.  Reliable, check.  Quick, defensively outstanding, less convincing going forward, that goal, check, check, check.  In actual fact his form, in a season that straddles his testimonial year, hasn’t held out quite so reliably as in previous seasons but Lloyd is and remains a colossal asset to the side and the squad.  He deserves the Spurs game, and deserves it to go well.

Next Season: I interviewed all but one (guess) of Lloyd’s previous managers in conjunction with his testimonial season.  Several of them wrote him off prematurely, in different ways and for different reasons, and were forced to revise their judgement.  All were effusive in their praise for him as a player and a man.  They would be, I suppose, but it felt genuine in every instance.  Sean Dyche the most gushing of all.  More of the same please, Lloyd.


1. Joonz - 21/05/2012

On Troy, it is amazing what happens when a player bought as a centre forward is played as a centre forward, isn’t it? Message to Sean – more of the same, please.

2. IainJ - 21/05/2012

Dyche has come in for criticism over a fair few of his signings; ‘Big Chris’ and Craig Forsyth are obviously two players, along with Yeates, that have shouldered most of it. However, going into the summer months your season review of the squad now shows one that has a great mix of senior pros, younger professionals and academy ‘stars’. The likes of Iwelumo, Eustace, Nosworthy, Taylor, Mapps if he does stay and Doyley provide a wonderful backbone to develop the likes of Deeney, Mcginn, Hogg, Murray, Hodson etc. 12 months ago, the squad was in desperate need of depth, it then lost quality too with Graham, Cowie and Buckley moving on. This summer Dyche can focus on 2 or 3 key positions to add a touch of quality, depending on what he can achieve, we maybe able to go into 2012/13 quitely confident of pushing for a playoff place. That prospect alone shows what a great job Dyche has achieved to date.

Matt Rowson - 21/05/2012

Whilst I agree that Dyche has done a great job, I don’t agree with all of the above. But we’ll get to that later in the series…

3. Tim Turner - 21/05/2012

Part of the problem with Forsyth was that he was introduced as a winger, despite lacking most of the attributes needed for playing that role – speed, tricksy dribbling, crossing ability, etc.

Any thoughts on what his optimal position will turn out to be? He could end up as a Crouch-style striker, I suppose, but I wonder if would be best deployed at the apex of a midfield diamond, with licence to support the strikers when we’re attacking.

Mind you, he may have to fight Stephen McGinn for that spot…

4. MartinB - 21/05/2012

Re Lloyd, I’ll agree with most of the praise he’s been given. However, is it just me or is anyone else shocked at the poor quality of his passing? I do feel that to make real progress as a team we need someone in that position who can add to the attack and not just defend competently.

Matt Rowson - 21/05/2012

“just” ?

SteveG - 21/05/2012

just Martin?…or just defend competently??

Matt Rowson - 22/05/2012

Just defend competently, but fair point. “Yes he’s a great defender, but why doesn’t he overlap like Ashley Cole”. Because if he did he’d be playing for Chelsea, not us. Not that that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t work on the weaker elements of his game, but taking the fundamental role of a defender so lightly is just daft.

5. Mark - 21/05/2012

Deeney really came into his own once Sordell left and even Big Chris improved.

Maybe we were pinning our hopes on Marvin too much in attack.

Murray ofcourse really helped our midfield and whilst I love Eustace and rate Hogg not sure if we need a more attacking central player?

Defence had its moments…as usual but Polish Tom helped in that department with his confidence in goal.

6. James - 21/05/2012

For me Forsyth was the most puzzling of Dyche’s signings. Not that he looked particularly bad, but… he’s a young, relatively inexperienced winger, with plenty of potential… and we already had at least 5 players at the club matching that description.

After seeing him in and out of the side for a season, my view hasn’t really changed. He’s got enough about him that he’ll probably make a decent player sooner or later, but does he really offer any more than Murray, Massey, Whichelow, Mingoia or Bryan would?

Couldn’t agree more about Deeney, and it’s good to see someone else also making the Mooney comparison.

Matt Rowson - 21/05/2012

Massey is certainly not a winger. Whichelow arguably not. Bryan has been released. Apart from which, Dyche has rightly suggested that you sign quality players whichever position they play in; the argument would be that you don’t know which of them will work out. As above, Forsyth is not the finished article, and I agree with the suggestion that it’s not clear where best to use him. But still looks a decent signing to me.

straightnochaser - 27/05/2012

Nit-picking perhaps but Forsyth signed between Malky’s exit stage west and Dyche’s appointment so technically not a Dyche signing, albeit he was the ‘Deputy’ in the previous management team…

Matt Rowson - 28/05/2012

Top class pedantry sir, my apologies… 🙂

7. Andrew J - 22/05/2012

I don’t think anyone has mentioned Troy’s recent brush with the law, which he has pleaded guilty to and for which he awaits sentence. Regardless of his performances since, is anyone else concerned about this behaviour? I remember thinking the same thing after the Vernazza stabbing incident over 10 years ago. It’s up to Sean to deal with it, and I have every confidence that he will do the right thing, but as a fan who pays some of T D’s wages, it bothers me – I don’t want any WFC player behaving this way. GT reputedly sold a certain Scottish striker who was scoring goals for fun in the eighties because of that player’s influence on youngsters. Discuss.

Matt Rowson - 22/05/2012

I didn’t mention it explicitly, but tried to infer it in the “Next Season” bit. I dunno. Yes, it does bother me, but depends on the nuts and bolts of what actually happened really. Not difficult to imagine quite radically different scenarios leading up to his conviction; intent, instigation, level of involvement and level of contrition would all be relevant in deciding that. Not aware he has a track record, unlike the Scot you mention, and the fact that he pleaded guilty at least suggested acknowledgement of what he’d done if not contrition. Wait and see I think.

8. Back from Hammerau - 22/05/2012

As I understand it, the guilty plea is a result of the incident having been caught on CCTV, rather than of any contrition.
The fact that he was referred for sentecing by the magistrates (who could impose a sentence of no more than 6 months) to the crown court (where he can be given up to 3 years) isn’t encouraging.

NickB - 23/05/2012

I hope that SD is unequivocal about this, at the appropriate time. May be just that the WO quoted him out of context, but the comment he made a couple of weeks ago seemed disturbingly lighthearted.

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