Tuesday, 3 February 2009

What Next For Whalley?

Shaun Whalley's move to Southport on loan makes perfect sense, but I'll be interested to see just how things pan out from here.

There can be no question that Whalley has the ability to be a fine player. We saw that at The Racecourse last season when he slaughtered us in an Accrington shirt. Remember how he curled a beauty in with the outside of his right foot coming in from the left, then on the other flank set a goal up with a brilliant run and cross which started with a bit of impudent skill which dumped Steve Evans on his backside? I mean, I know the latter feat maybe wasn't so tricky, but he still did it with panache!

We've seen snatches of Whalley's ability at the start of this season too. The way he dinked a terrific chip over the Stevenage keeper to score on his debut, repeating a goal he'd scored in pre-season, suggested we had something special on our hands; he looked like the best finisher we'd had since Juan Ugarte.

We also saw what he had to offer from the flank, particularly at Salisbury, where he twice ran at the heart of their defence from the half way line and scored with shots from outside the box.

But why was he playing on the wing if he was such the sharp goalscorer he appeared to be on the first day of the season? Therein lies the problem. Whalley is capable of excellence only sporadically. Furthermore, being something of an individualist he never looked like he could strike up a partnership up front as he failed to read the target man play of Jeff Louis. Louis' success in combining with Marc Williams shows the problem didn't lie with him.

Understandably Little tried to persist with Whalley; after all, he was his signing. Furthermore, he offered the possibility of creativity in a rather moribund side. However, when you look back you realise that if he didn't show he was in the mood early on then the liklihood was that it wasn't going to be his day.

Whalley has genuine ability, and will surely show it at a lower level, although dropping a division for the second time in six months surely wasn't something he'd planned for. Seeing the number of Wrexham players who looked nowhere near as capable as him, yet are making an impact in the Blue Square Premier, surely he will punish Conference North defences, not least as he's joining a side in fine form, as we can attest, along with plenty of other sides from our division who have fallen foul of their two impressive cup runs.

Could his sojourn on the coast send him back to us a better player? Perhaps not, and we've had too many years of holding out in the hope that a player will finally justify his promise. Saunders' hard-nosed realism is what the club has needed for a while. This looks like a deal which we're unlikely to lose out on either way as Saunders carries out the necessary streamlining of his squad.

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