ALS ROUNDTABLE #56



You know the score by now. We quiz some ALS scribes on current matters and see what shit they spout…


Charlie Wyke has been constantly criticised by some SAFC fans on social media since he arrived at the club in 2018. Does his recent scoring spree suggest that he’s no longer crap?


DANIEL HUNTER: The future Ballon d'Or winner is in the form of his life. Whilst his all-round play is not great, give Wyke a chance in the box and on current form he’ll put it away. New manager Lee Johnson’s style of attacking football has done Wyke the world of good.


SOBS: Charlie Wyke is still, despite being very obviously in a good vein of form, a player who still divides opinion. Continue to point out any weaknesses and you’re a moany bugger, praise him and you’re a happy clapper. The reality is that Charlie is still the same player we bought, and, while he’s never going to be Niall Quinn, we’re currently getting the best out of him.

MICHAEL CONROY: As an avid believer in the Totti from Teeside since his first goal on his debut against Oxford I feel somewhat vindicated at his recent purple patch. Having said that, I do see why he generates frustration amongst fans. For a long time he looked absolutely devoid of confidence and seemed to shrink when going for headers. He has been absolutely anonymous in some games but suddenly we have a player at the top end of the scoring charts for the division for the first time since Maja. That cannot be overlooked and seven goals since Lee Johnson came in suggests a possible contributing factor to his resurgence.


If the club is restricted by pay caps in terms of signings and new contracts, where would you like to see any money KLD brings in being spent?


DANIEL HUNTER: I would like to see money spent on a statue of Charlie Wyke outside the ground. As well as investing in one of those golf buggy stretcher things that Bailey Wright was taken off on against Ipswich.


SOBS: The salary cap will leave in the ridiculous situation of having one of the richest people in football at the helm, but not being allowed to spend his dosh on players. Comments from Lee Johnson about the training facilities, particularly the playing surfaces, offer a clue where some money should go and how SD has cut things to the bone and we’ve already invested in the infrastructure at the academy and the academy should remain a priority for future spending, as should the scouting network. We are where we are though and there is an undoubted need for investment in prospect. This club is only worth the money it is being sold for because of potential. You could argue that we should bung cash in to get us out of the division and then start to build but it really isn’t that simple.


MICHAEL CONROY: With the salary cap coming in we have to assume our maximum wage payable would be based on the divisional average of under £3k a week. That basically limits us to loans or L1/L2 players, unless the loaning club chip in. The only other option would be for us and prospective signings to gamble on promotion and offer decent promotion bonuses as these don’t count for salary cap purposes. The salary cap is a nonsense in its current format and I can see some real challenges ahead if it remains in place, both legal and footballing.


Twenty of our players are out of contract this summer. Choose one who must stay and one who must go.


DANIEL HUNTER: I’d release Aiden McGeady. Don’t get me wrong when he’s good he’s very good, but since his return to the first team under Lee Johnson he hasn’t really done much. McGeady was good in the Lincoln game but apart from that he’s looked a bit off the pace and out of shape. His skill is still there but his distribution and all round play isn’t what it was under Jack Ross. The fact McGeady is on a reported £20,000 a week will most likely play a huge factor in whether or not he gets a new contract. Luke O’Nein has to stay for me. His ability and determination are second to none. His versality in being able to play in midfield and at right back shows his class as a player and his contract renewal should be the first that Lee Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman look at.

SOBS: To me, the most obvious departure is already in progress, but Grigg will still have time left on his deal come June, so if we’re applying the salary cap to a keep one, lose one choice, and bearing in mind which areas of the field we’re strongest and weakest in terms of cover, I’ll go for Callum McFadzean to leave. I know that getting shot of McGeady will free up enough money for ten League One players, and that he’ll be 35 in a couple of months, but look at what he brings to the team. Since taking over from the injured Hume, McFadzean has shown decent ability going forward, albeit without Hume’s pace, but at 27, I’d have expected him to have better defensive capabilities. A new deal has to go to Jack Diamond, if only because he provides pace in the final third, and in recent weeks, without Gooch and Hume, he’s been our only player with any zip in his boots. Add to that he knows where Wyke is likely to be, he’s young, and he’s local and therefore likely to be cheap, out of loyalty.


MICHAEL CONROY: I’m going to bid farewell to Chris Maguire. On his good days he is far and away my favourite player. His shithousery has brought many a smile to my face and he is capable of producing game changing moments. On the other hand, on his bad days he is either capable of disrupting play with stray passes and overplaying it or going 20 minutes without a touch. There definitely seems to be a motivation problem for him at the moment and if that’s the case, for the sake of both player and team it may be time for him to move on. Keep one is more difficult. We have some key players up for renewal, not least of all the aforementioned top scorer, Charlie Wyke. Luke 09 is another one where you can see benefits in terms of both spirit and versatility. However, I’m going to stick with the principle that we need to develop a progressive youth policy and the most impressive of those in my view has been Jack Diamond. He just offers something a little different up front.


Now that Lee Johnson has had a bit of time to bed his methods in, what differences are you seeing from the Parky days?


DANIEL HUNTER: We look far more dangerous going forward. Our link up play has improved massively as seen with the slick goal at Ipswich on Tuesday night. Don’t get me wrong there’s still a lot of things we need to improve on, but we are now much harder to defend against. Previously sides would take the lead and be able to shut us out because all we seemed to do was cross the ball in aimlessly.

SOBS: Listing the differences between Lee Johnson and his predecessor is an exercise that could take someone until the end of the season. I’ve no doubt Parky is a nice bloke, but so am I and I couldn’t manage a professional football club. Where Parky’s smile always looked a bit forced and almost apologetic, Lee’s looks to be borne of enjoying football. I know that, at times, a Lee Johnson chat can seem like a game of Bullshit Bingo, what with phrases like Monday Morning Quarterback being tossed into the conversation, but his application of more forward-looking methods compared to Parky is glaringly obvious. He also fits into the head coach and sporting director “model” the club is now working to. On the pitch, he’s shown that radical new methods don’t have to be the be all and end all – something simple like being forward-thinking in our play makes a big difference.


MICHAEL CONROY: At times it has seemed scarcely different, at others it has seemed worlds apart. The key thing for me is desire, the players look more up for it. You see less heads looking down at the ground and more determination. Against Ipswich you saw Wyke having a pop at Woolfenden in a way which I hadn’t seen since he took on the Portsmouth man bun in the first leg of the play offs. They seem more willing to fight. The midfield looks so much more composed on the ball as well. They suddenly have a bit more confidence and seem to be finding a few more seconds on the ball. Overall, we actually look like we’re starting from a different position in terms of mentality, we look like we want to win rather than defend a clean sheet and that’s a step change. Once we start to string a run together that can be a powerful thing. I’m not saying it is suddenly all fixed, it’s not, but there are signs that it could be in time and at the moment I’ll cling on to that hope.