I’ve been doing the Worst Signings Ever series of late, but there’s another angle to transfers that I thought I’d like to pick up.
It’s not only incoming players that surprise fans, or end up being hugely disappointing; players that leave the club are often discussion points too. Think about it: Sam Clucas, worth millions of pounds, but released by the Imps after a single outing in the EFL Trophy. That, with hindsight, was a baffling decision, but at the time it wasn’t surprising. Few expected Sam to go on and be a huge star, not from his limited time with the club, but now it’s a move talked about as baffling.
One move that baffled me at the time was Ian Baraclough’s switch to Mansfield. I recall reading a bit in the paper back in the early nineties when Big Keith said he’d always have an Ian Baraclough in his side. Months later, the left-back moved on, and ended up not only playing for Queens Park Rangers but winning promotion with Notts County in 1998 and Scunthorpe in 2005, 2007 and 2009. I confess, I found it baffling at the time, but even more so now.
I think there’s an argument for Zack Elbouzedi to be included on this list as well. We didn’t see a lot of Zack, but he impressed twice in the EFL Trophy, and seemed to be on his way back into the side. Instead, he was sold to Sweden, where he’s turned into a hero. He helped AIK finish second in the Allsvenskan, earning a spot in the European Conference next season. Who knows, he could even end up gracing the Champions League. With that added context, how we didn’t get a tune out of him is baffling for fans.
There are other examples I can think of; swapping Matt Carmichael for Dave Hill, only to see the former go on and hit 24 goals the following season for Scunthorpe. Letting Lee Frecklington join Peterborough after the transfer deadline had closed in 2008/09 was utterly baffling as well, when we might have been able to use any incoming transfer money to boost our own top seven hopes that season.
Sometimes, it’s the player’s decision that confuses fans; Jon Nolan’s move to Wrexham is a classic example. Did he really want to get away so badly that he moved to a rival club? Probably, but it left supporters in zero doubt as to their feelings on Nolan. His move doesn’t make my top five most baffling decisions of a generation (from 1987 onwards, my generation), but the first one is a baffling player decision, rather than a club one.
I’d welcome some of your thoughts in the comments section. Enjoy.