The Roland Harris Column

Monday 22 October, 2001

Why the Hell did City stop signing good players?

This crisis at City has been coming for years.

We all used to talk about it, we did not know that we were at the time but we were. We used to say it and laugh it off.

Think Dean Saunders' old man hobble at Middlesbrough on the first day of the Premiership season. Think ticking time bomb.

City stopped signing good players.

It's that simple. I'm not saying that we have not signed a few decent lads in the past couple of years but since Paul Jewell splashed £3.5m in a summer, City have not bought right.

That summer we got Lee Mills who was under 30, up and coming and bloody good. We got Gareth Whalley. Another up and comer, another prospect who could grow but was already capable. Ashley Westwood was another, although he tailed off later, before Kamara signings like Robbie Blake were on the right track. David Wetherall a rare blip in a blotted copy book.

But since then what sort of players have City bought? Neil Redfearn, Stan Collymore, Dan Petrescu, Billy McKinlay, Jorge Cadete, Eoin Jess. All players with who had there best years behind them. Even Benito Carbone is the wrong side of thirty to be an investment.

Take a look around the Premiership teams we were competing with and see the likes of Malcolm Christie, picked up for a song, Marcus Stewart and Matt Holland of Ipswich. Players bought before they had peeked with a future ahead of them.

City should be signing players that they can get a good four years out of. Too often our signings are reactive, such as Redfearn and Collymore who filled gaps or offering too little in front of them. Paul Jewell could have had Marcus Stewart but bottled out because he did not think that the player had Premiership experience. He didn't, but we should never have been looking for it.

The players that City need are committed, obviously. They are under 28 (or Beagrie fit if over) so that we can get a few years out of them at least. They are up and coming so we can get them for less than they are worth and they are quality, in that they can play a bit now and can be put straight into the first team.

The only signing we have made that is all these things has been Gary Locke.

So that is why City are in crisis. The team is old and lacks the quality that we should have been building over the past few years. We have made three years of short term signings, in fact to be honest we have been a short term club for as long as I can remember.

We need to think long term. The long term that Geoffrey Richmond thought when he recruited a bunch of kid-a-quids (Like me) who became proper paying fans. We need to keep Jim Jefferies if only to prove that we can keep a manager for more than 18 months and we need to start signing and backing players who are going to be good in 2005.

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