Scotty's View #4
On the strengthening front, there is a case for nearly every position, but, in view of the limitations of Luton's budget, Mike will already be prioritising.
My own feelings are that only Markus Heikkinen and Carlos Edwards can be viewed as top quality players at Championship level, while Steve Howard, Kevin Nicholls, Dean Morgan (potentially), Kevin Foley, Paul Underwood, Chris Coyne, Bez and Rowan Vine are above average CCC players on their day but not consistent enough to be rated as ‘above average'. The remainder fall into the categories of ‘have reached their level', ‘have gone a step too far' or ‘have yet to prove themselves.' Of those yet to prove themselves, I don't know how long Mike will give them, but I feel that, now the play-offs are extremely unlikely, he must give them their chance. Those players include Warren Feeney, Leon Barnett, Keith Keane (as a midfielder!) Sol Davis, (not enough games yet to be sure) and Danny Stevens who has yet to be given any chance. The same can be said for Calvin Andrew, and Leary and O'Leary. We need to know what these players can do at this level.
Those who have gone a step too far will no doubt be on their was in the summer. Mike knows he has to do it.
Calvin Andrew resumed training at Bristol, after it was thought his knee injury might have ended his season. Let us hope he regains full fitness soon.
On the subject of Leon Barnett, I notice that he is getting some stick on the boards, and I'll grant you that he has made some bad mistakes, which at this level usually result in goals against, and indeed has. However, Curtis Davies got his chance in similar circumstances, when Luton had central defender injuries, and he made numerous mistakes leading to goals against. The difference was that he was playing in a lower division. Luton had to persist with him and he grew game by game into an excellent player.
Leon has had to come in and learn in the Championship, and I cannot understand how anyone could fail to see that he has grown immensely in the time he has been in the side. If he is able to play for most of the remainder of the season, as a starter or as substitute, I truly believe we have on our hands a potential Premiership player. He is developing on a par with the way Curtis developed but at a higher level. He was excellent against Reading nad Leeds for most of those games, despite the mistake for Reading's first goal. Give him a break people!
On Tuesday, Luton Town fielded a French trialist from Harrow Borough, in Romain Le Roux. He is (was!) very highly rated at his club and he performed well for the full 90 minutes of the 6-1 thrashing of Oxford reserves, and Newell is likely to want to see more of him However, he had been awol from his club for 10 days at that point and his manager David Howells stated on their website that he did not know where he was, and another player Onachie, was also missing. I have been unable to ascertain whether Onachie was training with Luton too. Either way Le Roux' manager is less than amused by their disappearance. No doubt more will emerge on that story this week.
It was revealed by Brian Stein that Mike Newell tried to bring Robbie Fowler in on loan, as he was unhappy at Manchester City. Apparently, the stumbling block was that his wages are £45000 per week and Mike could only kick in with £2500. And they turned him down!!!? How rude are they, and how clouded the thinking of Mr Fowler for joining Liverpool instead. Didn't he see how we thrashed them for 60 minutes the other week?
Marlon's hearing with the FA was postponed because the referee was unavailable. Well Mr. Drysdale, we are so sorry to inconvenience you. Had you done your job correctly in the first place, the incident would not have happened.
Late withdrawals from the squad by Nicholls (thigh strain) and Heikkinen (illness) left us back to square one at Leeds, when Coyne and Unders returned. Luton gave as good as they got for most of the match and probably deserved a share of the spoils. However, a poor decision by the match officials possibly cost us a win.
At the time of the blatant handball by Sean Gregan, who stopped playing and stood horrified, looked guiltily across to the assistant referee, Luton had subdued Leeds and were in the ascendancy. To go from that to a goal down in 30 seconds, was harsh. It also lifted Leeds and they scored again before Luton began to get back into the game.
On the handball, in fairness to the referee, he was caught behind play by a quick change of direction of play, when Luton stole the ball and a first time long ball left him in no man's land. As a referee myself, I can tell you that this is the time you really need your assistant referees to stand up and be counted. Mr Hill had a very good game and could not be blamed for the non-award of the penalty. The assistant referee shoulders all of the blame. He bottled it.
However, we have had some fortunate decisions recently, so we must not complain too loudly! Cardiff should have had one, which may have cost us a point. We got one against Liverpool, which should have been a free kick outside the box, and Reading could have easily been given one last week in similar circumstances to ours against Liverpool. It was outside the box but could easily have been given as a penalty and may have cost us two points. Officials are only human! (I'd still like to shoot the assistant from Saturday though! ;-) )
If Luton's players had have concentrated on the play instead of
Word to Sol
BTW A word to Sol. Dissent is futile and puts pressure on you for the whole game unnecessarily when you are yellow carded for it. Having said that, the challenge for the second one was innocuous and Hulse was never going to get the ball.
Finally, Congratulations to Chris Coyne on his 200tyh appearance in a Luton Town Shirt and to Steve Howard for scoring his 100th goal for Luton. Great achievements both to two excellent club men. I wish them both more of the same.
Have a good one.