TOWN fans are beginning to wonder if Simon Clegg is known as ‘the nearly man’ among his old school peers. You know, the one who always got a peck on the cheek at the disco before losing her to a full-on snog from his ‘mate’.
Of course, the analogy has been rather watered down here from the text I received after the failure to agree personal terms with another promising player identified by the manager. But is the criticism of chief executive Clegg, regarding Charlie Austin, really fair?
Looking at the facts, we have managed to land a proven Premier League player, albeit with a long-term injury record, on a no-strings attached loan deal, and a winger for a pittance from non-league. Both Jimmy Bullard and Andy Drury tick the boxes of creativity and set-piece specialists we were lacking, while the former also has bags of experience and has thrived under Paul Jewell’s management before. More importantly, no key players have been allowed to leave the club, despite a cheeky bid for David Norris and Damien Delaney from strugglers Crystal Palace and a wild hunt by Premier League clubs for a striker, with Connor Wickham not moving an inch.
Charlie Austin continued his prolific goalscoring from Poole at League One Swindon, but despite much potential, is yet to prove himself at Championship level. We can only assume from what has come out of the club that they would have had to have broken the wage structure to land his signature, and with three high-profile strikers already on the books, would the disharmony that might have caused been worth it? In truth, to suggest we should have trumped Burnley, who have the weight of three years’ parachute payments behind them and something to play for, is being naive. No, there will be plenty more targets for Jewell to chase in the summer.
Unlike most Town fans, it seems, I’m reasonably happy with our transfer window business, aside from the desperate need to recruit a new right-back on an emergency loan to save Carlos Edwards’ blushes, exposed again in the fortuitous 2-1 win at Derby on Tuesday. But a win is a win.
The criticism I would level at Clegg and Evans has already been voiced before. How do you get to a situation where 21 players, including expensive purchases such as £2 million club captain David Norris, have had their contracts run down to within a few months, risking losing them for nothing? It continues to baffle me.
Meanwhile, it’s struggling Sheffield United in town on Saturday and maybe another chance for Jewell’s fledgling relationship with the Portman Road faithful to continue to blossom.