TTU Go Predicting: Best Loanee
Alright. Whose idea was it to kick off our thematic predictions with a loan category…? Do people realise that it’s still July?
In defence, although the days are but early, loans have become such a key aspect in every club’s year-on-year recruitment that transactions are happening much earlier than they might have previously. Of course, a great number of deals are yet to see light of day but — as our contributors for these posts Rob Langham, Chris Walker, Gav Barber, Ian Rands, Tom Furnival-Adams, Lloyd Langman, Chris Lines, Gary Andrews and Ben Woolhead make clear — plenty of moves have already been announced and analysed to the nth on the messageboards.
Almost out of spite, Watford have cocked a snook at their critics by converting practically all their loans from last year into permanent deals after the Football League’s foreign loan loophole was closed over the summer; not that it’s impossible to imagine the likes of Almen Abdi and Cristian Batocchio reverting, Christopher Samba style, to Udinese come July 2014.
So, whereas the ‘Orns would have previously been odds-on to supply the most nominations through sheer statistical probability, this has proved to be a much more open category with suggestions of players from right across the divisions.
At the top of the pile, one of the most eye-catching loan deals so far in this window has been that of Michael Ngoo from Liverpool to Yeovil. Gary Johnson is an expert in playing the loan market and Ngoo’s goal scoring record for Liverpool reserves is outstanding; more to the point, we are assured that this lad is definitely not David N’Gog, which can only be a good thing. The stability of a year-long deal, whilst also slotting into a side going into 2013-14 with strong momentum after last season’s promotion campaign, could prove extremely fruitful indeed.
Otherwise, Jack Hobbs is another pick for the shrewdest resort to football’s temp agencies this summer so far. A grenadier guardsman of a defender — and not the most supple — Hobbs may be but he’ll provide force to a Nottingham Forest defence that has failed to lure Wes Morgan back from Leicester. Fellow centre back Kyle Bartley should be a good acquisition for Midlands rivals Birmingham being a decent player with Premier League experience.
Steve Morison will be playing in the same division as both Hobbs and Bartley next year. Examining the striker’s loan deal from Leeds to Millwall provides a real puzzle and it’s unclear what’s greater: the foolishness of Leeds of swapping Luciano Becchio for a forward they no longer want after just six months, or the size of Millwall’s coup in bringing back a player who, as the saying goes, guarantees goals.
Further down the pyramid, Jason Banton was just terrific at Plymouth last year and deserves his shot at playing a level higher. Argyle manager John Sheridan had been desperate to bring the winger back to Home Park and at one point it looked as though it was a done deal, but in the end parent club Palace saw sense and sent him along to Milton Keynes where he should do well.
Another temporary Franchise employee, Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford, also got a mention but outside of Buckinghamshire the only League 1 player to come up in our discussion was England Under 20’s defensive midfielder Conor Coady, who arrives at Bramall Lane with ringing endorsements from the red half of Merseyside.
Looking ahead, Kevin Phillips — the man whose name can’t be mentioned without either “the veteran” or “old warhorse” as a prefix — will surely be parachuted into the Championship next Spring to boost someone’s play-off hopes (our money’s on Brighton, just for the sheer narrative thrill of it), and no doubt new Hartlepool boss Colin Cooper will owe a debt of gratitude to his old teammate and colleague Tony Mowbray after Mogga’s reserves end up pushing the Monkey Hangers towards a comfortable mid-table finish.