Date: 3rd June 2011 at 1:53pm
Written by:

Once again there has been talk of whether or not Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis will be with us next season. This story came up several times during the season and when players are linked with big moves it is because they are doing the business, usually.

I rate Doyle as our greatest asset without a shadow of a doubt. Our first season back in the Premiership, things were going wrong and credit to Mick he found a playable formation that sides found difficult to play against. Ultimately we ground out enough narrow wins, chalked enough points on the board to finish 15th with the relative comfort of 38 points. The way we were playing no forward would have shot past double figures. Very few players can play the game as well as he does; he is able to recognize exactly what needs to be done for the better of the team, and if that means chasing a lost ball near the corner flag, holding it up and waiting for the midfield to arrive that is what he did; his vision, work rate and ability meant sometimes he was doing the job of three which reflects just as much on the other players as it does him. He was beginning to score more again this season. Initially we were once again having problems with 4-4-2. He does look better in a 4-5-1 but either way he had started notching a few more than usual when he got injured and his loss spoke volumes, nearly taking the wheels off everything.

As for Jarvis I am surprised a lot of people seem prepared to sell. He ticks all the boxes people have marked out for him and the team; he is young, commited, clearly has ability and to put aside his occasional lack of quality with the all improtant final ball, still improving. He has improved every year since he has been with us and he will continue to do so. Less than a year ago if memory serves correct, there was a piece in the paper in which he admitted his crossing was lacking and said he had spent extra hours concentrating on improving it. Like Doyle, his work rate is tremendous; a number of times during the season I’d scribble down a note, Jarvis chases back 60 yards to fill gaping void left by Curious George.

At the end of the day these players had very good seasons and we knew this talk would come up, but that is all it is until someone puts a bid on the table, and considering who has been linked with who elsewhere I don’t think Doyle and Jarvis are presently topping anyone’s list. Suits me.

The club has repeated that we do not have to sell and I think it would only pull at the loose stitching if we were to sell either player; the club is building itself around its own assertion that we are at the beginnings of a long term development plan that will establish us amongst the best in the Premier League. The approach itself effectively dampens expectations.

Apparently we are the only club in the Premiership not in debt, which is a great marker for the future as long as we maintain our status. Personally I think we have to push the boat out a little further this summer if we are to realize any form of improvement. I have already stated that I do not rate last season as any form of success, because I for one did not rub my hands together at the start of the season and think ‘come on, we can survive.’ I actually wanted 12th and before anyone shoots that down as unrealistic or aiming too high it proved well within our reach. Unfortunately our performances were riddled with mistakes, week after week, at times we defended like a Sunday pub team, the players concentration was away at sea and the confidence repeatedly waivered. At times we did play some tremendous stuff and there were some wonderful memories that few of us will forget anytime soon.

I believe we are close to operating as a very good unit, capable of attacking with flair and excitement but in a measured fashion and by means of containing a midfield for once, and keeping the door locked at the back. Sounds simplistic but that is exactly what is called for, and for which reason I believe we are four players and probably 20 million pound away from being a good side, with the potential to be better than that.

We need three defenders and a midfielder, whilst keeping the players we have. Of course we will have a lot of midfielders and wingers but how reassuring it was towards the end of the season to name Jarvis, Doyle and Blake on the bench- few teams could boast such a strong bench and we still won that day also. The defense is our glaring problem and whilst I came to the conclusion there has to be something clearly off with coaching and management if we were still having to ‘return to teaching basics’ in…..April then get players in who are good enough to see above whatever silly instructions have been provided to them and instead take up positions, make tackles they can see they need to make. A couple of clever heads at the back, matched with equal ability- it will make all the difference.

As a club, we are talking a very good game. We finally made the promised land, and better still stayed there. Now is the time to find the next gear so if 18million got us 2 more points than the season before, Morgan I believe is going to have to give him the same again. Whether 20 million annual investments are considered profitable when it means a two point increase is debatable.

Thoughts on a post card.

New York City Wolf