Grass Greener For Loans
This Saturday will see Lee Barnard line up for Southend at Gresty Road. He could be yet another former loanee we're about to see the best off.
Barnard spent just under six months at the Alex at the start of this season and was written off by a few fans as 'not good enough'. He secured a permanent move to Southend just a couple of weeks after returning to parent club Tottenham Hotspur and has since bagged five goals in eight starts and three substitute appearances.
It is now almost inevitable that 'Barney', who scored just three for the Alex, will now pile on the misery by bagging a goal or two this weekend. He is far from the first loan player this season to leave the Alex without great references and pop up impressing elsewhere.
Chris Dickson arrived on a month's loan from Charlton in September with the promise he was the new Ian Wright and made just two starts. The nearest he came to looking like an accomplished player was a shot that was a yard wide in the 1-1 draw at Swindon. You'd have been hard pushed to find a fan who thought he was good enough as we were desperate for goals and the management agreed as Dickson returned to Charlton a week early.
He was immediately loaned back out to Gillingham and from nowhere became one of the best strikers in League One. In his 14 appearances for the Gills he notched up 11 goals before Charlton asked for him back. In one of his final games for Gillingham he scored twice against us at Gresty Road, including a Marco Van Basten-a-like which should surely be the league's goal of the season.
Then you can go back to the end of last season and find Anthony McNamee on loan from Watford in what was possibly the most disappointing deal of the year. He came with talk of him possessing lightening pace and the ability to turn players, but his couple of months were just short of a disaster, something Dario Gradi admitted he was trying to avoid this year.
McNamee though signed for Swindon Town this season and could even be named their player of the season after an impressive run of performances on the wing.
Yet, this seasons more 'impressive' loans come in the shape of Elliott Bennett, from Wolves, and Simon Church, from Reading haven't quite gone on to set the world alight. Both left the club in January and haven't had as good a time since. Bennett is still on loan at Bury, despite many fans feeling he should have stayed on at Grest Road, whilst Simon Church is struggling to even get off the bench at Yeovil. Though I'm sure that will change in ten days time when the Alex travel to Yeovil.
So, what has it been about loans this season? They've come and we've dismissed them but maybe our support clouded our view and the problem lay with our own players rather than those on loan. I say maybe, I think it's plainly obvious now. Lunt & Morgan have since come in for a bit of creativity and we've been transformed - maybe Barnard or Dickson in the current team wouldn't be too bad.
Finally a request, let's not give Barnard grief when he comes on Saturday. Not that he should get a standing ovation, but he was complimentary about the club in his time here and since he's left, so let's worry about our own situation and let Baudet take care of Barnard.