The news has now broken that Nathan Arnold has joined Salford on loan until the end of the season. It is perhaps little surprise that he’s gone, but more so that he’s in the National League North. Let’s make no mistake about it, on form Nathan Arnold is League Two quality.
On the face of it, this isn’t a move about football. Nathan isn’t your typical footballer, he isn’t mercenary and he isn’t someone who would make a choice lightly. I don’t for one second think he’s gone to Salford to resurrect his career. I don’t think he’s gone there to play minutes and force his way back into Danny’s plans. No, this move isn’t one born out of any of the usual reasons for a transfer.
Nathan will be a revelation at Salford. He has incredible talent as we saw when he dumped the Rochdale full back on his arse in the Checkatrade Trophy game. He’s far better than National League North and to think he’ll be up against Gainsborough and Boston is a travesty. It is also his choice and therefore it is to be respected.
I know Nathan scored against Gateshead, a superb goal, but I’m not sure he’s been the same player since that wonderful goal against Ipswich. I appreciate it must have been tough to cap that, but the joy on his face after the Gateshead goal told you all you needed to know about his motivation. I hope there’s no negativity around this move and I hope the ridiculous rumours of refusing to train get left where they are. We owe Nathan Arnold our cup run last year, it is as simple as that. If the lad had chosen to go back to Grimsby, he would have done so with my blessing whether I chat to him on a personal level or not.
I feel a little sad sat here typing these words if I’m honest, because a real icon of our National League win has gone. Yes, our squad is changing rapidly and improving all the time, but with Raggs and now Nathan gone we’ve lost two absolutely integral parts of last years triumph. I know football moves fast and I know there’s no sentiment in football, but for fans I think there is. For a player it is a job, for us it’s more than that.
If I had to give an honest assessment of the situation, I’d say Nathan is falling out of love with the game. He’ll always give his best and he’ll be a huge asset to Salford, but I think the pensive and softly spoken man who opened up his soul this summer is thinking beyond his playing days. As I alluded to earlier, Nathan isn’t a typical footballer, not one bit. He’d never be in the card school on an away trip, never seen in town after a game or throwing insults at other players on the pitch. He is respectful, self-aware and philomathic. He’s eager to better himself and equally as keen to use his experiences to help others. I don’t think that means coaching or managing, not one bit.
We might see Nathan back as yet, he might go to Salford and find a new-found desire to come back and excel as I know he can. However, I think Nathan Arnold has climbed his mountain here and if that is the case, I wish him all the best for whatever he does in the future. People spoke about Terry’s goals when he left last season, Nathan’s might not have secured the league on the day, but his overall contribution was pivotal to everyone we achieved. We wouldn’t be where we are today without Nathan Arnold, that is absolute fact.
Hopefully I’ll grab a word or two with him over the next few days.