“Fans seem to have convinced themselves that effort equals quality and it’s better to pick a big, tall, wardrobe of a man that cares about the club than Craig’s little Villa-supporting brother”
Right you lot! I’ve written a fair few positive articles recently so it’s time I flipped the coin. Maybe it’s the sleepless nights that come with having a newborn, maybe it’s the poor start to the season or maybe I’m being swayed by the constant doom and gloom online, but allow me to discuss a couple of negatives.
Before I do though, please bare in mind that I still maintain the notion that we will not struggle this year and I completely believe in Monk’s vision. We’ve kicked off this season with a short run of tough opponents and Friday’s game is likely to continue this trend. Once we get into the meat of the season, we’ll have a fairer view of how this team will fare because it’s way too early to let the negativity take control of us at this stage.
I’m firmly of the opinion that our squad is capable of achieving a respectable finishing position but I also believe there are a few players that we may be better off without right now. One has already departed, one is halfway out of the door and one is still clinging to his place in the starting 11.
There’s a wide range of factors to consider when judging a player’s value to a club. Anyone that’s wasted a weekend on Football Manager knows that the most successful players have a healthy blend of various skills and attributes whereas those that have peaks and troughs in their stats are less likely to perform.
Blues have announced the departure of unlikely cult hero Cheikh N’Doye today, with the midfielder making his way back to Angers and rejoining a slower paced, more forgiving French league. The appeal of Cheikh is an odd one. Yes he’s full of beans and runs around a lot, but so do chickens that have had their heads chopped off and I think even headless poultry could manage pick a 5 yard pass to a team mate.
I’ve never been too sure whether the N’Doye fan club was meant to be sarcastic or genuine. I’m certain that it was BORNE of sarcasm but fans seem to have convinced themselves that effort equals quality and it’s better to pick a big, tall, wardrobe of a man that cares about the club than Craig’s little Villa-supporting brother.
Whether it’s authentic affection or sarcastic banter though, anyone that let out a cheer whenever N’Doye pulled off a successful pass should be ashamed of themselves. That is not support – it’s patronising and at times it was embarrassing to be around.
As with most players that pass through our club, I wish him all the best and thank him for the effort that he undoubtedly put in during his time at St Andrews. However, I won’t be shedding any tears of regret over his departure.
Cheikh had the commitment and passion to succeed, but his lack of skill and patience on the ball was ultimately his downfall. He was a big nuisance whilst on the pitch but we may as well have been playing with 10 men. This got me thinking about 2 other players at the club that rank highly in one aspect of their game but are let down by others and thus in my opinion are not good for the club right now.
The first of these two is Che Adams. Che has natural talent, great balance, speed over short distances and a keen eye for goal.
When he can be bothered.
I think Che has the ability to be great, I really do, but if anyone comes in with a half decent offer for him in January, I hope we snap their hands off. Che’s been tipped as a hot prospect for the last couple of years but he fell way below par last season and hasn’t exactly hit the ground running under Monk’s leadership either.
I think Che is one of the most frustrating players to watch because you know he has goals in his locker and every now and then we’re treated to a flash of magic; much like his goal against Huddersfield in the cup. Unfortunately though, it seems he spends the full 90 minutes waiting for the perfect pass and would rather wait for space open up in front of him then create it himself.
His style of play is perhaps best described as ‘lazy poacher’ and although I don’t doubt that there’s an accomplished 20 goal a season, punishing striker in there somewhere; I wonder how long we should wait for it to appear.
Che Adams has the clinical goal scoring ability that we’re desperate for these days, but his lack of effort and determination makes him more of a liability than a threat. I would absolutely love him to prove me wrong and perhaps once he gets a couple of goals under belt he might start to fire on all cylinders but for now he’s stealing a wage a taking up a place on the team sheet that could be filled by one of our young and hungry future stars that are eagerly watching from the sidelines.
Finally we have David Stockdale. Stocko as he’s known to his friends and “Stockogk1313 please like my Tweet” as he’s becoming known on Twitter.
There’s a small section of Blues players that willingly interact with fans outside of official club business. Recently David has worked his Twitter fingers into overdrive and become somewhat of an online fan favourite because of it.
When you have a club as famously tight-lipped as ours, it’s nice to have someone on the inside to communicate with and any interaction between players and fans helps to build bonds and make us all feel part of one big family. In times of trouble it promotes a feeling of togetherness and leads fans to rally round the team.
There is one problem with this though, Stockdale is no longer in the team.
For reasons that may never truly be revealed to us, David has been frozen out of the squad. I have heard from the one inside source at my disposal that Stockdale can be lazy in training and that he’s actually refused to rejoin the squad following the announcement that he was no longer needed.
Since the Blues have failed to attract a suitable replacement to the club, fans have been championing Stockdale’s return and on the face of it David appears to be ready and willing to put on his gloves again. This is a contradictory attitude to what I have been told is present in training though.
There is a reason Stockdale has not been brought back into the fold. Perhaps it’s Monk’s pride and desire to stand by his convictions or maybe there’s something else behind the scenes that Monk & co are too professional to comment on publicly. We will never know.
What is certain for now though is that Stocko’s not likely to return any time soon and although he is well within his rights to communicate with fans that are calling for his return, I don’t think it does the club or the management team any good. The ridiculous “Monk Out” rhetoric that seems to have bubbled away over the last few days is partly due to the signing of Camp and dropping of David. Stockdale has his career and family to look out for and I don’t judge him for wanting to have his say, I just think the few high profile discussions/arguments that he’s had online are adding to the emerging divide amongst fans.
Stockdale is a very accomplished keeper as was subject to a bit of undue criticism last year when those around him were just as culpable for mistakes. I’ve no doubt that he’ll find a new club in January but now it’s time for everyone to move on.
With N’Doye’s determination, Che’s natural talent and Stocko’s desire to please and interact with fans; we have the perfect player. Put all three of them together and they provide the DNA of a future Blues legend. Separately though, they are unintentionally hurting the club and I wish them all the best but feel that right now they’re surplus to requirements.
By Mark Watson