Earlier this week I got chatting to a Stevenage Borough fan (as you do) and he casually asked my opinion of their ‘managerial advisor’ – the man who they have appointed to assist Stevenage boss Darren Saril.
One Mr Glenn Roeder.
Having pulled an expression normally reserved for stepping in something nasty on the pavement, I felt obliged to justify myself;
(More of ‘MFP’ in a bit).
On reflection I should have added that I hold Roeder responsible for convincing our then chief executive, Neil Doncaster that the days of long-term contracts were a thing of the past and the future of football lay in loans and short-term deals.
In the fourteen and a half months that marked his ‘tenure as Norwich City manager’, Roeder made twenty-five loan signings.
That’s like popping round to your neighbours to borrow a cup of sugar, every day for over three weeks. Or to put it another way, it’s a bit of a piss-take.
Such was the churn within the squad that the dressing room should have been fitted with a revolving door. It felt as though each match marked the debut of yet another new face, introducing himself to his colleagues before kick-off;
“Hi, I’m Jonathan from Middlesbrough and I’m here until half-time”.
Having previously written about the importance of a team’s identity, perhaps I’m not alone in looking back at that ‘team’ with a genuine sense of detachment? Even those players who did show potential disappeared long before they could win a place in the fan’s affections.
It was unsurprising therefore, that Roeder’s policy and his ‘hired guns’ failed to hit the mark either on the pitch or with those of us watching on from the stands.
Of course if used correctly (and sparingly) the loan system has many uses and benefits.
It allows clubs to develop their younger players by sending them to a ‘smaller pond’ where they can gain experience and simultaneously provide another club with talent they simply couldn’t afford or hope to buy.
It can create a chance for club and player alike to ‘try before you buy’ and remove some of the risk from a potential permanent switch.
It can be used as a short-term fix to plug a hole in a squad or provide a player with a few games to gain match fitness.
And of course it can also be used to remove a surplus player from the wage bill when you simply can’t find another club willing to buy him (until Vitesse came along that is).
Over the years, our use of the loan system has sometimes been effective, sometimes less so and in the spirit of providing a balanced view here are my top three loan signings accompanied by a rogue’s gallery of the three worst.
The caveat here is that I have excluded those players whose loan moves became permanent on the basis that my top three list would have sounded like our traditional festive terrace chant:
Three Huckerby, two Huckerby and a Darren… you get the idea
1) Fraser Forster
Standing nine feet tall and stuck down the pecking order at Newcastle, Forster was a Lambert signing to replace the hapless Theoklitos in what Andy Townsend might have described as the “ultimate chalk and cheese type scenario”. Despite playing for us in League One, nobody can be surprised that he’s since represented England. Rumour has it that the permanent signing of John Ruddy a year later cost less than Newcastle wanted for us to borrow big Fraser for another season.
2) Ryan Bertrand
Ryan played fifty-six times in a City shirt over the course of two seasons. To put that in context, the much heralded ‘permanent’ signings of Leroy Fer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel managed only two more appearances between them. Left-backs don’t often capture the imagination but his calm and assured displays showed the potential that would ultimately lead to international recognition.
3) Peter Crouch
Even taller than Forster, the beanpole joined us on loan for three months from Villa alongside ‘MFP’ and at a time when our strikers were all crocked. He only played fifteen times in yellow but his signing was a show of intent in a season when City ultimately secured promotion to the Premier League. Despite scoring four goals, Carrow Road never bore witness to the robot dance. I have mixed feelings about that.
1) Harry Kane
Less of a ‘harricane’ and more of a gentle breeze; it is perhaps unfair to judge him on three games in a loan spell that was cut short by injury? But life is unfair and the fact that he scuffed his one big chance when clean through against West Ham made his subsequent rise to fame all the more unbelievable and a little bit galling.
“We had him on loan, we had him on looooooaaaan. Oh Harry Kane; we then sent him home”
2) Antoine Sibierski
He was bald and rubbish. Next.
3) Alan Gow
Gow had come close to signing permanently the year before he arrived on loan from Rangers in 2009. In thirteen matches he failed to score and was most notable for flicking his floppy hair in a petulant manner that suggested he didn’t want to be here. Towards the end of his spell the feeling was entirely mutual.
So over to you, the readers of MyFootballWriter; who are the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to City’s forays into the loan market and, more importantly, why?
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