Thursday, 14 May 2009

Fair Play to Fairhurst

All credit to Nathan Fairhurst-he's shown an attitude you don't seem to find too often in the modern game.

We tend to see players putting their short term advancement first these days-hell, Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't cope with losing thirty minutes of me-time against Manchester City last Sunday, could he?

So to see Nathan Fairhurst reject a contract with Preston in order to get first team football three divisions lower is quite something. He talks, most logically, about taking a step backwards in order to take a step forwards in the future, and in doing so illustrates that he has the sort of cool head we need as we continue to look for a way out of the turmoil.

But his signature is important for reasons far beyond that. For me the crucial factor which destabilised our promotion push was when Fairhurst's excellent partnership with Andy Fleming was disrupted to accommodate Andy Crofts.

Fairhurst had really settled into the role and was playing well when he was dropped-in fact the way he was marginalised made me worry that we were destroying our hopes of signing him permanently-a concern which grew when Crofts missed the last two games of the season but Tom Kearney was selected ahead of Fairhurst!

Still, Fairhurst has signed the dotted line, and he may prove to be Saunders' greatest coup. He spoke soon after he arrived of convincing the on-loan players to stay even though they were too good for The Conference. While his temporary signings represented his best pieces of business, I think it's fair to say that by the time the dust had settled on the campaign, Fairhurst was the on-loan player who looked most like he ought to be playing at a higher level. In signing him, Saunders has got the pre-season off to an excellent start.

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