The Roland Harris Column

Monday 25 February, 2002

The real cost of Ashley Ward

I cant remember which game it was, perhaps it was all of them, but the moment sticks in my mind as I stick up two fingers at Ashley Ward as he goes back to Barnsley.

It's a cross in from the left, Ashley Ward going for the ball in a tussle with a defender. Ward turns sharply to the Ref to appeal for a penalty as the defender tidies up the ball. The Ref shakes his head and Ward lets rip.

And I think "What a waste of space".

That is pretty much the whole of my argument against Ward. It's not that he doesn't do ok. 11 goals in 20 games says he does alright, but its that fact that if he could be bothered he could do a whole lot better.

He could ride around that defender and try a crack at goal. OK four out of five times he might not get the ball, sometime he might look stupid of waste his energy, but he would be trying. Sure sometimes he would look like a fool, but other times he would score goals.

That is the thing I do not like about Ashley Ward. He would rather turn and moan to the Ref than get stuck in. If things are going ok then Ashley Ward looks great. At the moment he is bagging a few and good on him, but both Jim Jefferies and Chris Hutchings would point to the striker and say "Where were you when we were struggling?" The answer, of course, would be mouthing off at the linesman.

Eleven goals in twenty games is a lie, not a stat. He should be racking up twenty in that many games with the number of chances he wasted (Burnley at home anyone?) and when he isn't he should be doing everything he can to try make sure he is. Not Ashley, he would rather make sure that if things are going wrong, everyone knows it is not his fault. How can it have been Ashley when the Ref was so obviously against him as to make the striker chase the man in black every two minutes.

If we watch City for another 99 years we will never see a player do so little to justify his wage. Ashley Ward could be an £18k a week striker, but he plays like a £4,500 man and thats why he had to be shown the door.

Give me Lee Mills any day. Mills wanted the ball, not the penalty. We wasted £1.5m signing Ward, £18,000 a week on him (Stan Collymore was only on £17,000) and let Lee Mills go. In short. Waste of time, waste of money and the biggest crime was that it cost us Mills to find this out.

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