It seems last week was all about who we might be bringing in, whilst this week is all about those who can leave the club.
I know Michael Appleton wanted to get the average age down, but he’s really going for it. Tom Pett and Ben Coker are both now free to leave the club. The news isn’t entirely surprising, neither have featured much this season, although with Harry Toffolo going I do question whether keeping Ben Coker might be a good idea.
Let us look at Tom Pett first. Before I start, like Michael O’Connor and Harry Toffolo, I like Tom Pett as a bloke. When I used to get a text with any of those three names on it to do an interview, I did a little jump inside. They’re like Neal Eardley and Lee Frecklington; you know you’ll get plenty of material. I also like Tom because he’s a bright lad, doing a degree around the mental health aspect of being a footballer and someone who told me he doesn’t watch reality TV because it’s all rubbish. Yeah, I like Tom Pett.
That’s why it is always hard to then talk about their playing input. It’s been pretty obvious to anyone over the last few weeks that Tom was on the fringe of the first team. MA clearly gave everyone a chance and Tom’s came at half time of the Posh defeat. It was tough on him; he was rusty and gave away the ball for their opening goal that essentially killed us off. He then played against Gillingham and although the whole team struggled that day, it was his last outing for the club, as it was Callum Connoly’s. That seems to have changed MA’s mind, although I’m sure he makes his decisions based on far more than we see on a Saturday.
I’d hate for that to be how Tom leaves the club though, because he was a key part of our League Two success. He doesn’t know this, but he helped me pull through my back surgery by scoring against Yeovil; I was unable to move, groggy, in and out of consciousness and yet him putting that ball away cheered me up sufficiently to push myself. Ok, I maybe got out of bed a day earlier, but it was a big moment.
He was certainly a part of our success last season. He had a wonderful August and September but picked up an injury and I felt then struggled to get his form back. He had to fill in on the wing when Bruno got injured and I never felt he was a winger. Tom Pett was best when he was driving from deep, pushing through defenders and creating chances. I also liked him in a deeper midfield role although I’m not sure if he was a natural defensive midfielder.
We’re now unlikely to see him in a Lincoln shirt again and I would imagine that hurts him immensely. If I’m being really honest, I do wonder if he’s more effective in League Two, but then again he hasn’t been given a chance to thrive in League One. He might get the chance; Swindon are thought to be in for him and they’re challenging for promotion. I hope wherever he goes he gets regular football and a crack at this level again but, sadly, I feel this is the best move for the club right now.
On to Ben Coker, his transfer is a strange one. Ben’s lively, he’s a real character, full of energy and life. He got his time on the field for MA against Rotherham, did well in my opinion, and hasn’t been seen since. With Harry Toffolo possibly leaving, I thought Coker might get a chance to shine, even if it was as understudy to Max Melbourne. I’m not one who subscribes to this being a rubbish signing, he could have impact here if he got the chance. he’s proven in this division and seems a really likeable character.
I do wonder, to a degree, if it’s a mutual decision. Ben’s been out for a long while and he wants to play football. If MA has told him that isn’t likely, he’s sure to have kicked back against it a bit. That’s understandable too, he needs to be back on the grass for his own reasons after a horrible year or so and that isn’t going to happen here.
These decisions are perhaps the least surprising of the departures thus far. As for Harry Toffolo, I refuse to discuss it until it actually happens, perhaps as I’m still holding out a vain hope than he might decide to remain here, revel in the adulation of the supporters and seek a better move than a relegation-haunted side in the summer.