Friday, 13 August 2010

Keates and One Other

If ever there was a marquee signing by a side operating under a restricted budget, it’s Dean Keates!
In fact, my main worry about signing him is a simple question: why would a player with his pedigree want to come down to The Conference?
Shrugging aside that nagging question, we must hope he will deliver on his promise as there are clear issues in the centre of our midfield. The loss of Andy Fleming is a massive one; he might not have fulfilled his potential going forward, with just one career goal achieved so far, but he is still young and that side of his game will surely develop. The fact is that his energy is a great attribute, and the thought of him doing the legwork for Keates is an attractive one which will now never come to fruition.
Instead we have a likely partnership between Keates and Jay Harris. Harris certainly offers energy, but the lack of height in that partnership is worthy of concern. Take a look at this week’s Non League Paper to see what I mean. On the cover of their preview of the season, there’s a team photo composed of one player from each team in our division. Our representative, Keates, is dwarfed by the players around him (apart from the gloriously diminutive Alan Wright, of course!)
Perhaps it will work out for the best; both players are certainly tenacious and there can be no doubt that Keates can handle himself at a much higher level than this. However, Saunders admitted when he played Nathan Fairhurst and Angelos Tsiaklis together that a lightweight midfield is likely to be exploited in the Conference.
Is the greater experience of Keates and Harris enough to justify Saunders abandoning the idea of using a big man like Christian Smith in midfield? Perhaps so, although it shouldn't be forgotten that we enjoyed a good run of results when Tsiaklis and Fairhurst were in tandem, ended only when their partnership was disturbed by the arrival of Robert Crofts.
I can't help feeling that Fairhurst and Tsiaklis were dismissed too easily; indeed, the lack of opportunity offered them last season makes me question why they were both brought back to The Racecourse in the first place. Hopefully They have shown that a diminutive duo can have an impact on The Conference; otherwise Saunders will be back to the drawing board a lot earlier than he would have expected this season.

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