‘Fighting for your place’, like not caring who scores as long as we get the three points, is part of the footballers’ lexicon. You suspect that Eddie Hutchinson’s decision to fight for his place rather than go to Port Vale on loan has something to do with not wanting to move 120 miles north with a new baby in situ.
Still, it’s some testament to the state of the club that he’s decided to forego league football for a place on the bench at the Kassam.
Chris Hargreaves‘ renaissance this season has been an important factor. A number of players have enjoyed a good second season in recent years (none more so than Leo Roget), although in hindsight was it simply because, as the years passed, the decent players were replaced by dross, then dross with greater dross making the original dross seem decent.
Thankfully, it seems that Hargreaves’ light isn’t burning brightly simply because he’s surrounded by tripe. His lack of pace and moderate ball control means he’s better marauding forward, as he’s able to this season, than tackling and breaking up play in a defensive midfield role (where he’s prone to lunging in and giving away free- kicks).
Hutchinson, meanwhile, appears to have suffered a little from the rigour of fatherhood, seeming a little behind the pace at times. Still, he’s improved in recent weeks making him a more than capable deputy when required.