"THE problem with loanees is: they’re not ours; they don’t care; they don’t understand Millwall," my mate despondently mumbles, and I can see his point.
Can loan signings ever care enough to play with the intensity and spirit of seasoned first team players? Or should we embrace them; have faith in their ability and their eagerness to achieve?
Already this season we’ve seen seven loan signings arrive at the club. Seven new faces; seven faces deemed to be better than what we already have in the squad. Some will say it’s a sign of positive, pro-activeness; a keenness to improve the status quo. But for me, extensive use of the loan system always smacks of desperation and panic; temporarily bandaging over the sometimes-gaping wounds.
No doubt some of the additions have been a success and have aided the team and their performances: Nathan Baker and especially Shane Lowry (pictured) have been very effective in defence; and I sincerely hope we can somehow sign the latter, a talented player seemingly born to lead.
Though in the main, our loan signings have been disappointing, and at times, you ask yourself why they were brought in at all. Are they actually any better than what we already have?
You also wonder what effect all this player traffic has on the dressing room. Not long ago there were reported whispers that regular first team players – players that have served us well – were becoming frustrated with the situation, disillusioned with their standing in the squad. In the starting XI one week, dropped from the match day squad, for ‘Johnny Loanee’, the next. And who could blame them?
How can they hope to perform with any confidence or certainly when they’re constantly looking over their shoulders?
Ultimately, of course, position in the team comes down to personal performance. An under-performing player is far easier to spot in a failing team, than in a flourishing one. And the manager has wielded the axe without mercy. An under-performing player should indeed be dropped, but not as a knee-jerk reaction to an under-par team performance or failure of tactics.
For me, I prefer consistency and continuity within the team. These two underrated facets are crucial to success and function. Abandon this ideal and we start to appear desperate; akin to Christmas-Eve-style panic buying in the loan market.
Moreover, such an approach shows a lack of faith in each other; and for me, I suppose faith and loyalty is what it comes down to. I much prefer to retain faith in regular first team players, than resort to erratically shopping around for unheard of makeshift alternatives.
Measured and thoughtful use of the loan market – yes. Patrick Agyemang – no.
I suppose my thought approach is more shrink, than surgeon. I prefer to identify and isolate problems, and then set out to systematically untangle them.
Currently the manager favours simply reaching for the scalpel and cutting the problem out, then plastering over it with a soggy bandage.