TTU Go Predicting: Players to Watch
As we head into the second week of our 2013-14 predictions, our focus turns to the players we deem to possess the potential to stand out amongst their peers. Whereas season previews tend to focus on teams more broadly, for which players could this be a year to remember on a personal level?
Starting at the Madejski, having once accused Lionel Messi of being a racist we’ll be watching through fingers at what Reading’s new signing Royston Drenthe will do next for although there were more loose cannons at the Battle of Trafalgar, surely none was as potent. A strange move, to be quite honest.
Speaking of the surreal, we’ll be fascinated to see how Matt Green gets on at Birmingham after a fantastic spell at Mansfield. His excellent strike rate in the Conference suggests that he should be playing in the Football League; it remains to be seen if the Championship is a step too far, however.
Likewise, Dale Jennings will have plenty to prove at Barnsley after failing to break through at Bayern Munich’s U23 team. In his two years in Bavaria he is bound to have picked up some new tricks and a different attitude on the game, however, and given how David Flitcroft’s side finished last season, Jennings could be all set for a big return to English football.
Further afield in the same division, in terms of positive impact we suspect that Matt Ritchie has more than enough in his skillset to shine for Bournemouth and, further west still, Yeovil fans will hope that Paddy Madden‘s exceptional form continues. The underrated Lewis McGugan should be similarly pivotal for his new side Watford, who pulled off a real coup in bringing him to the Vic on a Bosman, and Ipswich Town supporters will hope to see Anthony Wordsworth make the sort of impact that will see the words “cultured” and “left foot” juxtaposed in the time-honoured fashion.
In League 1, Will Grigg is a player worth discussing. On his departure from Walsall, Dean Smith said: “We offered him the best contract we’ve ever offered to a player in this league … but reports that I was angry about it are miles away from it. I was just disappointed that his agent hasn’t done better for him. I thought he could have got Will into the Championship.” Whether this was a frustrated manager exposing his bitterness or not, we too were taken aback to see Brentford had pulled off Grigg’s signature a few weeks ago. The prospect of a strikeforce combining him and Clayton Donaldson is quite frankly terrifying, and if things click quickly for him, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Championship clubs sniffing around in January.
Having been very highly rated at Harrow Borough, Grigg’s replacement at Walsall Troy Hewitt hardly got a sniff at QPR so it’ll be interesting to see whether he produces a couple of levels down; Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is another striker who could potentially tear up the division with his new club Bristol City; as the oft-quoted saying goes, if any manager can get the best out of him it’s Sean O’Driscoll. Staying with the forwards, Max Clayton of Crewe had an injury interrupted season last year but he certainly possesses the quality to be in amongst the goals in what is a talented Alex side.
Finally in this division, George Long capped off what was nearly a full season in possession of the goalkeeping jersey at Bramall Lane with a trip to the U20 World Cup in Turkey. A full year in goal could see him mature into the capable and consistent goalkeeper Blades supporters saw much of last season.
In the basement, Romain Padovani at Pompey has a touch of the exotica about him and just sounds like the type of player who’ll do well, while York City supporters said very good things about Burton’s new signing Adam Reed while he was on loan the last season. At Bootham, one of York’s new attacking players Ryan Bowman showed great quality for a troubled Hereford last season and fully deserves a second shot at the Football League. Finally, Brian Laws recently made Michael Collins his new captain at Scunthorpe. The midfielder has plenty to prove after spending oodles of time out injured but he’s highly rated by Iron fans and might well flourish if he can stay fit.