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Panic Buys Part 2

By: Kevin Dolan
Date: 03/03/2006

Players Out

Tony CranePaid up contract and released, subsequently joined Worksop
 One of the few pre-Slade signings Crane never really figured in the manager’s plans, possibly due to his season long injury, but more likely due to his (lack of) discipline. Crane’s departure was always inevitable, especially after his red card at home to Darlington; but it seems questionable why we paid up the rest of his contract and then brought in other players, when he could've been doing the same job.
Verdict Should've been kept for the remainder of his contract.

Simon RamsdenFree transfer to Rochdale
 An early Slade signing, Ramsden was the only relatively cultured centre back at the club and offered something different to the big hitters, complementing either Jones or Whittle. Frozen out of the team by the rejuvenated Jones, Ramsden was never a regular this season and even when Whittle got injured at Wrexham, he typically also got injured during the same game. Could argue injury-proneness contributed to his departure; but then if that were the criteria we'd have no centre backs left.
Verdict Strangely, quickly released. Should've been kept till the end of the season and beyond.

Martin GrittonSold to Lincoln (nominal fee)
 Despite being heralded as the answer to our striker problems last season (Town went crazy for a day and spent some money), Gritton was another Slade signing who he quickly decided to get rid of after only a year at the club. (Does he scout these players before he signs them?). Gritton was undoubtedly skilful and undoubtedly lazy; his slow paced, keep possession attitude the exact opposite of Slade’s ideas. He never settled in the team and was quickly frozen out. Town’s reliance on Gary Jones this season along with a decent scoring record from the target man spelled the end for Gritton who had started the season in the first team. With a decent scoring record at Torquay, Gritton only managed 6 goals for us, although by making only 8 starts and 22 substitute appearances this season it could be argued he was never given a fair chance.
Verdict Should've been kept till the end of the season and used or replaced with another striker.

Matthew BloomerOne month loan from Lincoln
 With the Wrexham game causing major defensive worries, Bloomer was hurriedly drafted in as an emergency stopgap. Without being outstanding, Slade decided to not renew the loan deal despite releasing two centre back and not having enough cover for the defence.
Verdict Should've remained on loan until Town had players back fit

Summary

First of all, I must say I give Slade a lot of credit for moulding a promotion chasing outfit this season and we are a lot better off position and points wise than I imagined. My one doubt is that the team has given up on the tactical side and is just looking to barge its way over the finish line.

It was probably a necessity to strengthen the squad in January, and you could argue that the manager released three fringe players and brought in a centre back, a central midfielder, a winger and a winger/striker. On paper that looks good, but in my opinion, he has needlessly replaced players with poorer versions, plus installed them straight into the first team.

I don't think it’s unfair to say that the Mariners seem worse off for the changes in personnel. The team before Christmas had a complementary and settled look about it and the defensive problems that arose could've been handled by the remaining defenders at the club. It seems a hasty decision to release Ramsden, Crane & Bloomer, never play Downey (how many would have to get injured before he got a game?) and then recruit Ben Futcher, include an unfit Rob Jones in the side and play Newey at centre back. Drafting in another central midfielder to compete for places with Bolland, Toner and Kalala was also probably unnecessary.

To me it seems that Slade spent the transfer window retuning his team to include ‘more of the same’: giant big hitting centre backs, defensive break up the play midfielders and ‘faster the better’ wingers and attackers. This has got to the extent were players without this criteria are being shipped out (also see Pinault, Hockless). Maybe he feels this direction is the way to go, but the one dimensional team has already been found out by the better teams in the division. How long before the others catch on?


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