News round-up: loan stars

I was going to open this post by making out that I was slapping myself in the face trying to resist the temptation of being optimistic about the coming season. Luckily the Brackley result poured the necessary cold water on that.

Friendlies are horrible; if they’re meaningless then why do all teams play them? Fitness is one obvious reason; which is why Matt Day should expect to play a lot this summer. How do you manage to be a professional footballer and put on (as rumoured) a stone in weight during the close season? Especially shortly after being publicly told that he was on his way out of the club if he didn’t change his attitude. How stupid is Matt Day? Or is this why we love him so?

The other reason for friendlies is an opportunity to walk through some patterns of play – which is why James Constable’s winning goal against Oxford City is encouraging. At least he and the ball were in the right place at the right time to score.

Most of the week was taken up with the flurry of signings 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 although none of them are actually ours. I’m not sure of the ins and outs of the loan system. It seems we pay the salary and get a decent player – but we don’t get to keep them. I’m not comfortable with this idea because it seems to dilute the club’s identity (e.g. its best players aren’t really its players at all). On the other hand, I’ve never professed to being totally au fait with modern football and – like people using lower-case text message language in work emails – perhaps it’s the way things are done nowadays. It is, I suppose, a short term investment in a long term future.

Certainly Lewis Haldane and James Constable seem to have the backing from the fans of their parent clubs, which is a good sign. Jamie Guy, on the other hand, appears to be yet another ‘bad-boy’ (Robinson, Jeannin, Zebrowski). Although if he turns out to be a John Durnin, then who cares? Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers once said of the Italians “As long as the manager wins the title it doesn’t matter if he’s caught sniffing cocaine out of the arsehole of a whore” which is kind of how I feel about Guy. One of the benefits of the loan system is that if he does make us successful, its because we’re a great club – if not, he’s from Colchester.

I wonder whether the signing of Jake Cole suggest that cracks in Billy Turley have started to show. Certainly Turley had is eccentric moments last season, although in the main he was excellent. The length of Cole’s signing suggests that Turley’s injury may be worse than originally perceived. Although goalkeepers are able to play into their forties, you have to question whether an injury that keeps him out for a total of five months throughout the summer and first two months of the new season may actually signal the beginning of the end.

Comment: Player of the Year

So, the club have announced a 5% drop in season ticket prices. I find the official site headline “Loyalty brings its reward” faintly patronising. Aside from a good run-in and Darren Patterson’s manager of the month award, it has been a dismal season. The very idea that the club deign to reward us is pretty galling. What it should have said was “We’ve served up a pile of absolute shite for 10 years, we simply can’t get away with charging you this much anymore”.

There were times this season when it was difficult to see how anyone could be rewarded a plaudit like ‘Player of the Season’ after the dross that was served up.

Pound for pound, it’s difficult to argue against Luke Foster, who has been, by far the best player of the season. However, I like my players of the season playing for a whole season and so prefer to look elsewhere.

The problem with this season is that only Turley, Quinn and Trainer can be described as first team regulars. Some (Twigg et al) made it to Christmas, others (Green and the like) only appeared later in the season. Some, (Day, Yemi) flitted in and out.

Trainer’s continued presence is a surprise; he looked heavy legged earlier in the season and a prime candidate for the chop come the revolution. In some ways he’s the perfect player of the season, as he’s a bit of a barometer – when we’ve struggled so has he, when we improved, so did he. I like him, he’s no player of the season in the traditional sense, but he’s the kind of player you can relate to. On that basis, I’m making him the first Oxblogger Official Favourite Player. An honorary position he shall carry until he leaves the club.

Back to the task at hand. The short list, then, is Turley or Quinn. Quinn has been Mr Consistent. 12 months ago I was advocating that he be released; but in cases of turmoil, his continued presence has been essential. Turley has been more erratic, his performances have been spectacular and frustrating in equal measure. His eccentricities are starting to get the better of him and its good to hear that Darren Patterson is planning to bring in some competition. But in a season where we contrived to score 1 goal in 13.5 hours, entertainment has been at a premium. Turley’s distribution may be a bit ropey, but his shot stopping has been superb. On this basis, Turley gets my vote for brightening up some pretty grey months.