We’re a cat’s whisker away from automatic promotion now and when we make it, one of the problems Roy Keane will have to deal with is letting players go. In some cases e.g. Arnau it won’t be difficult as the guy is clearly never going to get a game for us if he sticks around for ever more and I’m sure he’s got better things to do (like go back to Spain). It’s a shame, as in the one part-game he managed for us (let’s not mention the Bury debacle) he impressed a lot of people. Kenny Cunningham has got his rejection in first by publicly stating that he doesn’t expect to be around next season. Of course we don’t know if we’ll be able to keep our very solid back four together but I’m inclined to believe that we’ll keep Evans and Simpson for at least some of the season. They’re unlikely to break into the Man United first team in a hurry so they might as well get the match practice with us. Maybe one of them will actually sign for us? So, if they stay, I can’t see Stan Varga getting a game for us in the foreseeable future. I’ve always had serious doubts about Stan, God love him, and we don’t want to get back to a similar situation to what we had last time round when Breen, Caldwell and Stubbs were unable to cope with the speed of Premiership attackers and together with the ineptitude of Kelvin Davis, cost us countless goals. Stan’s thirty-four now and still has a career ahead but not, I hope, with us. Speaking of goalkeepers, I think Ward has proved he can cut the mustard and Fulop has looked the part too but we’ll probably have to sign some more
experienced cover – personally I’d bring back the Poominator. Four months ago I would’ve been happy to see the back of Collins but he’s come along nicely since then and I think Keane has done a Brian Clough on both him and Nos i.e. given underachieving players the belief that they can be winners.
Now it gets more difficult, as certain players who’ve played a large part in winning us promotion may well be considered to be not good enough to command a regular place at Premiership level. Stern John, John Connolly and Steven Elliott have all played in the top flight before and didn’t score many goals so I have doubts that they’ll be making many starts for us next season. Connolly has been great this season and his goals have put us where we are now but he hasn’t half missed a lot of good chances too. I’m reminded of Danny Dichio, who scored stacks of goals for us in our promotion season despite his outings being limited by the Mighty Niall, and has continued to knock them in (usually against us) for Millwall, West Brom and Preston but when he played in the Premiership he was consistently just half a second too slow against the nippier defenders at that level. Murphy is a battler and I think he could be an asset but we’ll certainly need a top quality new striker. Also Solskjaer would be a realistic target. Sure, most of us have hated his guts but what’s that got to do with anything?
I’m starting to get the horrible feeling that Kavanagh is never going to play for us again. He was our key player until he got injured and I think he’d hold our midfield together in any league so I hope this series of injuries can be ended and he has four months to get himself into shape for the new season. Yorke has got another season in him and would be at least a good squad player. Whitehead and Edwards could grace any team and I think we’re still to see the best of Leadbitter, Wallace, Liam Miller, Hysen and especially Stokes. I can’t see Tommy Miller getting a game in a hurry and with the rumours that Kenny Miller may be arriving from Celtic we surely can’t have three Millers in the squad; that would be a bit of a Duran Duran situation.
Keane has stated on several occasions that the changes he’s made to the team so far were only the beginning and given his excellent transfer wheeling and dealing to date, we can only look forward to the close season with relish. There is of course the small matter of assuring promotion first but this is no time for the faint-hearted and like our erstwhile fellow townsman Jack Crawford at the Battle of Camperdown, take a deep breath and nail your colours to the mast.
See you at Luton next week. Please wear a red and white shirt for identification purposes.