Bali High (Bali Low)
By Felix the Mackem Fox
When I saw the squad named for the trip to Portugal, I noticed one glaring omission - Bali Mumba.
I see Jack Ross has now come out and said that he thinks it's in his (Mumba's) short term interests to remain with the U23s whilst they try and identify his best playing position. Now my memory may be failing me but I seem to recall Mumba was good enough to play in the very first game of last season (which we won) and whilst I know we were short of players at the time he didn't look to me like a 'makeweight' whilst we tried to get others in.
Mumba clearly has talent and whilst some of this may still be 'raw' it's a commodity or skillset that not all the first team squad seemed to possess at times last time out. What had Ross got to lose by taking him to Portugal? If I was Mumba I'd be thoroughly cheesed off at being left behind especially after seeing some of the 'talent' who have brushed off their passports and been allocated a seat on the plane. I can't believe Ross has been so thoughtless.
Ok, he's the manager and apparently, he knows best (let's ignore the latter part of last season for the moment) but a talent like Bali's needs to be encouraged, not left behind. Surely such an experience would only make him a better player?
If I was Mumba, even at that youthful age, I'd be demotivated by such treatment. I don't believe he doesn't merit a place in the first team squad based on his potential alone. Let's face it a number of those who are now out there didn't even show potential last time out.
I played long enough myself to know that talent isn't everything and plenty of other characteristics are required to make a successful team (like physicality, nous, guile, determination etc.) but you can use other players to provide this, creativity we don't have in abundance.
I think Ross has handled this badly. I just hope Bali is made of strong stuff, doesn't let this disappointment make him lose focus and proves to the hierarchy that talent isn't a function of age.