TTU Awards 2011-12: Loan of the season
In January, Lloyd conducted a thorough overview of the loan system calling for a 5 point plan to lead to fairer competition. In 2010-11, Craig Bellamy’s spell at Cardiff seemed grotesque given the way Manchester City continued to pay his wages and that was just one example of a number of transformative deals carried out in recent times.
But despite our reservations, a cannily chosen temp can make all the difference and Michail Antonio gets our vote for the most important of 2011-12.
In truth, his appearances for Reading since Brendan Rodgers plucked him from Tooting and Mitcham in 2008 have been promising at best but insignificant at worst, even if many have come from the bench. He has so far lacked the guile of first choice wingers Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kébé, as well as first choice back up Hal Robson-Kanu, and a disappointing display as the Royals exited the FA Cup at home to Stevenage in January saw him packed off to Sheffield Wednesday a month later.
It was the Ginger Mourinho himself, Gary Megson who brought Antonio to Hillsborough and this provides yet more reason to mention the shabbiness with which he was treated but a week later – a lack of class highlighted by Football Lexicon author John Leigh for us at the time.
But after making his debut in a wholly significant Steel City derby, the Wandsworth man has been stellar – netting 5 times in 14 appearances and scoring a number of stunners – his pace and directness have been too much for League 1 defences at times, just as they were in an earlier temporary spell at Colchester – that he has shone so vibrantly at two clubs is telling but his employers’ ascension to the Premier League will no doubt restrict his opportunities – Wednesday have offered £350,000 but will likely have to trump up a bigger offer.
Honorary mentions to Tyrone Barnett, fearsome in Peterborough blue after a two division jump from Crawley in January as well as Lloyd Sam, whose arrival at Notts County saw them go oh so close to the play-offs.