I can’t get my head round the whole loan thing. Sure, I grasp how it goes. Clubs get someone in to hopefully strengthen the squad, even the team, while supporters get off on the thrill of the chase, a tasty diversion to the humdrum of everyday life, hoping the new arrival makes the best possible impact. Going the other way, high earners trying their luck elsewhere and keeping their profile up is no surprise, given our cash situation.

However, whether a loan move will be a success or failure is much harder to work out. The other day, still misty-eyed from seeing Yann M'Vila doing the pre-match handshakes as he lined up for St Etienne for the first time, I heard Djilobodji described as Dijon's defensive rock on a highlights show. I grabbed the remote and rewound the Sky Plus. I hadn't misheard, it was definitely “rock”...

That’s harsh maybe, because to be fair to Papy he’s doing all right with Dijon - cutting the mustard if you like. There’s always an exception though, as the hideous tackle from behind in the last minute of the home game against Metz proves. Yet missing the match at moneybags PSG might have been a shrewd move on Djilobodji’s part, rather than brainless. Sure, he won’t have had the chance to get Neymar or Cavani’s shirt on his wall, but the 8-0 pasting they took meant the Dijon fans were looking forward to his return. That’s loans for you. Largely tragic in 18 months at our place, the fact the Senegalese has looked OK playing in French and Germany means I can’t lose the feeling that I’m not quite sure whether I want us to close the door on him just yet, even though he has raised only heart-rates, not expectations, with us.

Staying in France, and Wahbi Khazri is largely making the right impression with Rennes too, meaning BT Sport’s Ligue 1 round-up show has added value for us at the moment. Joining them soon on there, Didier Ndong maybe?

But do our cast-offs ever bomb on loan? I liked what I saw of John Egan, George Honeyman, Billy Knott and countless other red and whites when they’ve played elsewhere but that’s probably because they were playing at a lower level and the good stuff they do will be on highlights shows. I hoped Max Stryjek would shine at Accrington, breezing past Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele and becoming as influential for us as Simon Mignolet and Thomas Sorensen, yet the reality is he was probably a six or seven out of 10 in his time there, a ranking most loan players achieve elsewhere, with few exceptions. Doesn’t stop me thinking Tom Beadling could flourish at a lower level, come back and be the next Charlie Hurley though...

It works the other way too. Plenty of players have joined us and not done much, yet it’s the good ones we remember. Peter Beagrie grabbed us by the scruff of the neck, got us all excited by dismembering Brighton with a sea of tricks and flicks, then – as we got excited a permanent deal could be done - took his shellsuits and somersaults back to Everton. That was more than a quarter of a century ago...

The reality of course is sometimes a change of scene, having a point to prove, maybe even better coaching, can be good for a player. It doesn’t always work that way though (I’m thinking of you here, Ricky Alvarez).

Clearly, I excel at seeing only the good where Wearside’s concerned - but just as I’m still struggling to digest how it was Josh Leather’s hand that went up after Glenn Foot had seemingly splattered him all over Newcastle a couple of months ago, I can’t make sense of the whole Rodwell to Vitesse Arnhem thing. What would possess any club to take a punt on someone who’s hit the headlines only for high wages, low achievement and a dubious injury record in recent times. Jack’s highlights package must be him heading home the injury time consolation in the home loss to Sheffield United, over and over and over again. “Organisational problems” are apparently the reason the move didn’t come off - insert your own punchline here. It might have been agent talk - but if the move had have come off, would we really be surprised if he quickly established himself as the beating heart of their side, scoring and creating at will and going on to move to a top side for a whopping fee, of which we’d probably get about £100k)?

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A Love Supreme

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