10 Players Looking for a Contract

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Uncategorized | 15 Comments
10 Players Looking for a Contract

With just three weeks to go before the start of the season, one of the most surprising aspects of this summer is the enhanced quality of the ‘out of work’ list – a roster of players that can be pondered with increasing incredulity here. In the past, the directory was populated with the kinds of players one might expect – journeymen who had reached the end of their shelf life and eternal fringe performers. Not so now – the ledger of those still seeking a club includes England internationals such as James Beattie and Emile Heskey, while the tally doesn’t only contain veterans.

The reality of modern football mans shortened contracts and the need to keep wage bills low. Hence, football league clubs in particular need to be no nonsense when trimming their squads – the remarkable array of talent left waiting for a new opportunity. Here are ten players I picked out as worthy of another look but their number could equally have included Lloyd Sam or James Hayter; Ricardo Gardner or Nigel Reo-Coker.

Paul Scharner

It’s actually faintly ridiculous that this steely minded, all purpose performer is without the club, even if it may be due to contract haggling and agent interaction. Scharner can arrive late at a corner to power in a header with the best of them, enact a limpet like man marking job and sweep up effectively in a more advanced role in front of the back four. Previously completely integral to Wigan’s tenacity in holding on to a top echelon place, he has latterly provided grit and vigour for West Bromwich Albion. I’d wager the Austrian could still do a job in the Premier League, let alone a level down.

Roman Bednář

Another denizen of the Albion, Bednář’s barmstorming forward play can be ideally suited to the one up front formation favoured by so many in these times. Originally springing to attention by way of Heart of Midlothian, his initial scoring record for the Baggies was impressive – his goals a major reason for promotion in 2007-8. However, a subsequent caution for possession of Class A drugs by West Midlands Police, together with a niggling hernia problem and a tendency to perhaps get a bit antsy in contract negotiations have all hampered his progress – stop-start spells at Leicester and Blackpool have left the 29 year old needing to get his career back on schedule.

Louis Saha

Another who probably wouldn’t overly relish a drop below the top tier – but at 33, one of the Championship’s moneybags outfits (Nottingham Forest?) might see the signature of the Frenchman as a sound purchase – after all, a most recent stay at White Hart Lane saw him score a creditable three goals. The rest is amply chronicled and the man who gave Abba’s Knowing Me, Knowing You a new lease of life can be proud of his cultured showings at Craven Cottage, Old Trafford and Goodison Park. That he only turned out for France 20 times in an era where les bleus have often struggled to score goals is perhaps evidence of the zaniness of that country’s international management over the past decade.

James Harper

That a man who was instrumental in the noughties rise to prominence of Reading FC, performing the role of crucial midfield metronome in the 2005-6 record breaking Championship side and performing admirably in the two year sojourn the Royals enjoyed in the Premier League (I remember a fine brace he plundered at the Toon) is now seeking a new club at 31 years of age is a stark reminder of the ruthlessness of the current sport. ‘Harps’ was a motor mouth dressing room presence throughout the Mad Stad glory years, a supremely fit cheerleader and a real bargain buy when he joined from the Arsenal reserve set up in 2001. Subsequently to be found at Hull City, he may have gotten used to large wages but surely he could do a job somewhere?

Wade Small

Small first came to prominence at the original Wimbledon and at 28, his experience of turning out for a host of clubs should surely stand him in good stead should a new club wish to take a punt on this former Don. Staying with the programme as it moved to the environs of Wolverton and Bletchley, his high profile switch to Sheffield Wednesday didn’t work out but subsequent spells at Chesterfield and Aldershot do punctuate his CV. Vastly experienced and a possible canny purchase for a League 2 or Blue Square team needing greater options.

Justin Hoyte

It seems appropriate to mention Hoyte during this Olympic period, hailing as he does from a famous sporting family – his mother Wendy sprinted for Britain. The Waltham Forest native was a sporadic presence for Arsenal throughout the middle part of last decade, taking in a consistent loan spell at Sunderland in 2006-7. Having finally severed ties with the Emirates for good, he joined Middlesbrough in 2008; the fee a cool £3 million. It’s been an up and down time for the Boro, but the full back had chalked up 108 games for the Chemical Heads and many of these have fallen under the more stable Tony Mowbray regime – any right back slot that needs occupying could be effectively filled – and Hoyte can also operate on the left side.

Adriano Basso

37 makes him no springtime capon, but goalkeeper is a position that requires reliability and consistency and the Brazilian’s five year stint at Bristol City between 2005 and 2010 saw him act as a fundamental part of a bright Gary Johnson combination. Basso’s progress at the Gate was all the more encouraging given that he had been plucked from non-league Woking and it’s unfortunate that a spell at Wolves yielded no first team appearances. Late of Hull, he would appear to be the archetypal material for a sage one year loan deal should  an unflappable custodian be required.

Ferrie Bodde

At the onset of Roberto Martinez’s Swansea project – and let us not forget that, for all the rich credit Brendan Rodgers is due, the groundwork was laid long before – Bodde was as important as anyone in the piece – buzzing around alongside the likes of Leon Britton, Paul Robinson and Andy Robinson as the Swans purred to a League 1 title win in 2007-8. But a series of injuries to his left knee have kept him out for nearly half a decade, with the most heartbreaking moment of all coming in a reserve game against Arsenal in May – this time it was his right knee that buckled. The former Den Haag man won’t be going anywhere soon unfortunately but who wouldn’t root for him to find a new club when fit?

Sammy Clingan

A mainstay of the Northern Ireland international set up since 2006, Clingan is a tigerish midfielder who does a good job of linking defensive and offensive impulses. It’s true that his club Coventry City have suffered a dreadful few years, but this has not been for the want of Clingan’s trying – he has earlier been a regular at Nottingham Forest and Norwich. This is a man who set up a winning goal for David Healy as the Ulsterman defeated Spain – yes, Spain – in a 2008 win. For all round reliability, he would surely be an excellent acquisition for a forward thinking League 1 club.

Chris Sedgwick

The stand out performer of Ronnie Moore’s under rated Rotherham United side of a decade or so ago was Chris Sedgwick – a skilful winger who weighed in with not a few goals and who managed to notch up 244 appearances for the Millers before he had even turned 24. An upwardly mobile move to Preston followed and again, he did well – once again breaking the 200 barrier and gaining a reputation as one of the Football League’s most accomplished wide men. At Sheffield Wednesday, he was in and out of the team but nevertheless played 43 times and his part in a promotion winning squad will surely turn scouts’ heads.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

14 Comments

  1. Frank Heaven
    July 30, 2012

    Scharner is certainly a baffling one. Could definitely do another year in the EPL, and his versatility means he will surely be picked up by someone if only to provide cover.

    Bednar as you note has seen his career come off the rails since the drug sting, and he is perhaps guilty of believing he’s too good for some of the clubs he’s been on loan at since. Did bag a hatful in Tony Mowbray’s free scoring Albion team five years ago, but I reckon Helen Keller would have got on the scoresheet in that team.

    Reply
  2. John Mc
    July 30, 2012

    Hayter’s signed for Crawley.

    Think this highlights a genuine caginess; so many clubs seem to be taking good players on trial before signing this year. Perhaps not a bad idea.

    Reply
  3. Lanterne Rouge
    July 30, 2012

    I should say that I only listed those players I have actually seen play in the flesh – I’m sure there are many other good ones. Lionel Ainsworth – late of Shrewsbury – is another player whose name seemed to regularly crop up on the Football League Show and could presumably do more than a good job at League 2 level.

    Reply
    • Lloyd
      July 30, 2012

      Ainsworth has joined Rotherham.

      Reply
      • Lanterne Rouge
        July 30, 2012

        Interesting – not sure how up to date the PFA list is then.

        Reply
        • Mark
          July 31, 2012

          I Believe this move actually fell through…

          Reply
          • Lloyd
            August 1, 2012

            Doesn’t look like it; Ainsworth played for the Millers in a 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United last night.

            Reply
  4. Brain
    July 30, 2012

    I think James Harper has just signed for Hungerford Town……. the words ‘step’ and ‘down’ come to mind. Surely a league club will come sniffing soon?

    Reply
  5. Ed
    July 30, 2012

    Some surprises among that list, Harper, however isn’t one of them. He spent some time at Wycombe last season and was beyond woeful. Nowhere near fit either. A spell with Hungerford should give him the regular games he needs to get his match fitness back, but i couldn’t imagine a league club wanting him on his most recent performances…

    Reply
  6. Smoggy
    July 30, 2012

    Who the fuck are “the Chemical Heads” Boro are nicknamed The Smoggies

    Reply
  7. Lanterne Rouge
    July 30, 2012

    Astonishing that Harper has rolled up at Hungerford – at 31 too. Perhaps apt at a time when Dave Kitson looks like being left with the job of turning off the lights at Pompey and Nicky Shorey comes crawling back to Reading.

    @FrankHeaven I’ve always liked Scharner and am amazed he’s not been picked up yet – definitely still good enough for the Prem.

    Reply
  8. TheBronzeMedal
    July 30, 2012

    Nice article – obviously you’re going to be inundated with suggestions of players you’ve missed off so here’s my two penneth:

    Francois Zoko – Turned down a new contract at Carlisle United and still hasn’t got himself sorted with a new club. Sometimes lacks consistency but has the abiltiy to turn a game around in a few moments with a piece of genius. Preston were rumoured to be interested but might be put off by his wage demands. I think he’ll find it tough wherever he goes because Greg Abbott did a very good man-management job with him and got him performing superbly in the second-half of last season.

    Reply
  9. Niall Geoghegan
    July 30, 2012

    Re Lionel Ainsworth, he joined us (Rotherham) a good couple of weeks back, so perhaps the PFA list is quite far behind if it’s still saying he’s without a club.

    Sedgwick seems to have lost a lot of what made him so good when he was with us. He was never lightning quick, but had a turn of pace which, combined with his terrific dribbling, made him a seriously threatening winger. Now he’s lost that turn of pace he just doesn’t seem the same player. Still, he’s got technical quality and should be able to find a League 2 club.at the least. (How impressive, also, is it for a player to be in the game for fifteen years and play for three clubs.)

    Reply
  10. Phil
    July 30, 2012

    The PFA list is out of date. For instance Scott McGleish has dropped into non-League with Whitehawk, Ronnie Hawkins played for Norwich City’s development side on Saturday against Enfield Town, Brett Ormerod joined Wrexham a few weeks ago and Mustafa Tiryaki has gone to play in the Turkish 2nd division. And that’s just a few I know about without looking them up.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

MENU