Sunday, 24 October 2010

Fear of the Known

Dean Saunders made it pretty plain after the game: he wants a new striker.

Quite apart from the very reasonable question of where the money's going to come from when Danny Racchi (who took a chance for York yesterday, by the way) was at best paid next to nothing and Mathias Pogba appears to be in a very similar financial position with us. Still, Saunders is in the market apparently, so let's think about what he can afford.

I've just bought a car myself, and I can imagine the models Saunders will have to look at: either clapped out old bangers or experimental prototypes!

The former category's filled with the sort of players Saunders has been tempted towards in the past. Ageing unattached players who'll come to us because we're the best offer on the table. Reliability's the issue here: you might pick up the odd bargain, but you're more likely to get a dud, and tie yourself to him until the end of the season to boot! For heaven's sake, no-one tell Saunders that Keith Gillespie is unemployed and looking around for a Conference club at the moment! Gateshead are welcome to him!

The other approach is to get in a lad from the Premiership's reserve teams and hope he has the class to shine. Saunders used to like going down this route too, but has been burned by his experiences. The theory behind it's sound: players the likes of Manchester City have picked up young because they appear to have the potential to flourish arsenal likely to be decent, so they ought to have the technique to blossom in The Conference.

The problem is that they tend to be naive as well, and throwing them in against big, nasty Conference centre backs is usually a rude awakening for them. Danny Mitcheley and Stuart Nicholson are examples of such players we've had in recent seasons, and there was no mourning when they went back to where they came from without a goal between them.

Adrian Cieslewicz, though a better prospect than those two, fits into a similar category; he remains one for the future rather than someone who could have an immediate impact.

The other danger of bringing in players from big clubs in this manner is their lack of sustained experience at a decent level. Just look at the likes of Nathan Woolfe and Jon Brown for examples of players who looked very good early on but faded as the demands of holding a place down over a long period kicked in.

Also, the very fact that we're a Conference club is a handicap. There are fringe players at the big clubs who are available on loan and would be terrific sign ins for us. The problem is, there's no benefit for either the player or his parent club in dropping down to our level. A spell in the Football League is seen by them as a useful finishing school, but playing at the fifth level is not viewed as a profitable idea.

So what do we do? I suspect we'll go for a kid or another Lamine Sakho and hope we luckily stumble on a bargain. There is another way to freshen up our attacking options though, but I don't think for a moment Saunders will take it. Our second top scorer from two seasons ago, our second top scorer from last season and one of the highest scorers in the league below us are all on our books, but I can't see Marc Williams, Wes Baynes or Obi Anoruo being recalled to have a run in the team somehow.

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