End of Term Report Part 7 30/05/2014Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
23 (#1)- Iriney
Like Fabbrini, Iriney looked terrific in the misleadingly accommodating environment of the pre-season friendly against his old side Granada. Tough and disciplined, miserly in possession he looked part-enforcer part water-carrier, and if he lacked Jonathan Hogg’s energy he had the gravitas that the side needed. He looked majestic and in control, a leader. Unfortunately that veil slipped quite quickly when the serious business started. It wasn’t really that he couldn’t handle the pace of the game, a tempting explanation to fall back on… he was certainly caught in possession too often, seemingly wanting more time than was available, but just as frequently his errors and misjudgements were unpressured, square balls into space to set up an opposition attack when a quick look would have provoked a more sensible decision.
He wasn’t a disaster. Iriney likes a tackle, and has the rather haggard wild-man-of-the-hills look made him a brutal, intimidating obstacle at the back of the midfield. He wasn’t the reliable metronome we needed though, and whilst he started the season as a first choice he drifted from the picture after a couple of months, before the wheels came off Zola’s team. A brief return to the picture in January brought tighter, more disciplined performances and the suggestion that Iriney had adjusted as required. At which point he disappeared to Mallorca and that was that.
Next Season: Wouldn’t object to him being part of the squad again, but remaining in Spain on loan for the last year of his Watford contract seems more likely.
23 (#2) – Samba Diakité
Let’s get Middlesbrough out of the way first, shall we? This was to be Diakité’s only start for the Hornets, a tight uneventful game until the 50 minute mark during which Diakité’s contribution and effectiveness had been limited. A rush of blood by a Boro defender earned us a penalty and the lead which, given the visitors’ inability to turn possession into chances, put us in a strong position. Until Diakité jumped into a 50/50 (40/60 against, strictly speaking) with unwarranted zeal and earned himself a red card. We won anyway, but it was a monstrously stupid act.
But that’s all it was. He didn’t kill anybody. Didn’t urinate on anyone grave. As such, the hostility he faced when coming off the bench against Blackburn bordered on the ridiculous. If we’re going to boo people for being a bit stupid then we’re going to need some lozenges as the events of the past week or two suggest there’s a lot of booing to get through. Diakité never justified the concerted effort we appeared to have devoted to securing his signature but, to employ a much-worn cliché, he never really got a run did he. And he had something, something that was enough to perk up a thoroughly miserable final day against Huddersfield. He needed rather more time to get into any kind of groove and start justifying his presence though… time he was never going to get.
Next Season: With QPR back in the top flight – and two years left on Diakité’s QPR contract – your guess is as good as mine.
27- Marco Cassetti
You want your team to do well, of course you do. Bottom line, every time you turn up at the Vic you’re hoping we turn the other lot over (with varying degrees of expectation)… you might tell yourself that you don’t want us to get promoted, it might even be true… but that’s at an aggregate, distanced level over the course of the season. When it comes to any game, any particular game, you’re never going to be rooting for the other lot.
But that’s not to say that that’s all that matters. We want to win, yes, yes, but if that’s all there was there wouldn’t be as many folk following unsuccessful teams as there are. Enjoying the ride is important, enjoying moments of brilliance or incompetence or humour even if they don’t add up to anything terribly consequential in terms of trophies or league tables. “You don’t get the time back”, after all. And there’s been plenty to enjoy about Marco Cassetti over the last two seasons… the legs may have been ageing, but the been-there-done-that swagger of a very good footballer capable of putting a cross on a sixpence, playing a pass through the eye of a needle and shovelling an opponent into the hoardings as the need arose has been a joy in its own right. This season, Marco’s effectiveness was elevated greatly when he was shifted from one of the more energetic defensive positions on the outside of the three to the central, pivotal role. His departure was ultimately determined by the need to return to his family in Italy, and this renders the question of quite how much he’d have been able to contribute next season obsolete. Instead it’s sufficient to look back and doff our caps, and try to suppress the concern that a side short of leaders has just lost another one.
Next Season: Marco turned 37 yesterday, so although I’ve not read a statement of his future intentions one would guess that might be it. Arrivederci et grazie mille, Marco.
28 (#1)- Connor Smith
One of the youngsters signed on a long-term deal on the Pozzos’ arrival nearly two years ago, Connor is still in roughly the same place as he was then. He looks… promising. Tidy, encouraging. But not assertive enough to play the pivot role at the back of the midfield as it stands, the role which would appear to suit him best in the formation most keenly favoured over the last two years and beyond that… it’s not obvious where he’s going to fit, beyond as a capable, positive, versatile bloke to have on the bench. His loan at Gillingham during the second half of the season must have been slightly disappointing, since whilst he undoubtedly got more gametime than he would have done at the Vic, his six starts plus four off the bench in addition to the handful of games for us earlier in the season hardly extended his senior experience.
Next Season: With two years left, another loan – at least for the first half of the campaign – looks likely.
28 (#2)- Daniel Tözsér
Kaiser. Nothing to do with Beckenbauer (I wouldn’t know, before my time. Yes, really…). “The Usual Suspects”. Yes? If “no”, what have you been doing with your life? Perhaps Kayser Sözé doesn’t rhyme perfectly with Daniel Tözsér, but it’s close enough, especially when it’s a Hungarian sailor saying it. Clear? Good.
Tözsér arrived from Genoa in January on the back of no gametime since the previous May and immediately took our midfield by the scruff of the neck and gave it a good shake. He had something of Chalobah’s awareness, range of passing and ability to turn into space, but rather than the cockiness of Chalobah’s tender years he displayed a diligence and an attentiveness that was more reminiscent of Steve Palmer. A fixture from the off, he also took over set piece duties, particularly when they suited his left foot, and suddenly we looked potent again. My favourite moment came against Ipswich when, having swung a ridiculous cross-field pass onto the toe of Faraoni he crossed the distance almost as quickly as the ball did to receive a lay off from the Italian, charge between two hesitant markers and pull back from the touchline for McGugan to score. Marvellous.
His level of performance dipped towards the end of the season; the club have put this down to fitness and it’s difficult not to be excited about the influence he might have with a full pre-season behind him. Let’s hope we get the chance to find out.
Next Season: No secret, or surprise, that we are negotiating with Genoa where he has two years left of a top flight contract. Fingers crossed.