Finishing off our review of the players this season, we bring you part four.
It’s been a bit strung out, spanning a couple of months, but with little else to write about I don’t suppose it matters. As we expect the result of the EFL vote today, we’ll know that the season has definitely ended for us, making it a good time to wrap up the review.
Pay attention – I’m planning on doing a Facebook Live with guests discussing the Player of the Year, so once you know who you would choose keep an eye out; I’ll have one person arguing their case for each player on a live show in the coming weeks.
If you missed the others they’re linked here, but otherwise we’ll crack on.
Part One – Akinde to Coker
Part Two – Connolly to Grant
Part Three – Hesketh to Morrell (including Grant Smith… don’t ask)
Michael O’Connor – 22 Appearances, 1 Goal
I wasn’t happy when O’Connor left the club; his combative edge had given us the advantage in some matches and I felt he had a job to do for us still. The stand-out moment for me was Peterborough away, when Toney clattered him deliberately and forced him off the field. The only reason he did that was because he knew that without O’Connor, our midfield lacked the cohesion necessary to see the game out.
That is what he brought to the side; cohesion. He was a senior figure when DC left, he led on the field by example and off the field he had influence. He was grounded, intelligent and most of all he’d been the ‘wild child’ during his years with Crewe and he knew the mistakes players could make. In terms of developing youngsters, I think he has the attributes to be a top coach.
Sadly, Salford put in a good offer for a player who was edging towards his later years and that was that. We will definitely miss him, but I am thankful we got to see him in a City shirt as our player, rather than just have fond memories of the loanee who arrived under Jackson.
Jack Payne 30 Appearances, 2 Goals
In August I watched us beat Accrington 2-0 and I think I proclaimed then that Jack Payne would be Player of the Year. He won’t. He had a tendency not to impact games as much as he should, despite a high shot ratio in those early appearances. I think if anything, Jack was affected by DC leaving more than most. He was top dog under Danny, a player brought in to define a new style. When Michael arrived, nobody needed to define the new style because the manager did it; there was no precedent of defensive football, counter attack or long ball. Michael Appleton was the new style and that made Jack Payne just another cog in the wheel.
I think he also suffered from a lack of confidence at times, never quite living up to the hype I built pre-season. I firmly felt he was going to revolutionise our style, but he was always nine tenths of the way there. I described him as a Range Rover Evoque when he signed, but I’m beginning to wonder if he is more of a concept car. I like the idea of Jack Payne, but he’s seemingly just one step away from being what I think he is.
That said, he was excellent against Southend in the ten minute run out he got and yet he was gone again a week later, not given a chance. This season, with a limited budget, I do expect to see him used more. Who knows, he might put that difficult first season behind him and become the star of the show.
Tom Pett 3 Appearances, 0 Goals
This season was tough on Tom. He just never got going, he started out injured and only came back under Michael Appleton when midfielders were the last thing we needed. I won’t go on too much about him, we covered Tom quite well in our tribute to him when he left, but in terms of the 2019/20 season, a few lines is really all that is warranted. I do wonder, had he not given the ball away in the lead up to Peterborough’s goal, would he have stayed in favour? Had he not started the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham, instead playing in a draw or a win, would he have got another chance?
It is all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ now though, Tom will leave the club with a title-winners medal and a lot of goodwill from the fans.