Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Nicky Maynard: Moving on Up?
The announcement this morning that City had given permission for Nicky Maynard to talk to Wigan was not unexpected, given that it had been rumoured online and in the press overnight, but still caused a fair amount of consternation and discussion amongst the Ashton Gate faithful.
Many have been quick to jump to understandable but slightly high & mighty remarks surrounding the possible destination. "Wigan, ha ha! Not the dream move he'd hoped for - see you next season" is a fairly succinct summary of many views and with Fulham, Everton, West Brom and Swansea having been linked in recent weeks it is a reaction that has some grounds. However the truth of the matter is this appears to have been the only official bid received and with only seven days left of the transfer window, this could turn into the only resolution possible for club and player.
Let's also remember the news today is simply that City have given permission to talk as discussions over a fee are in advanced stage. Maynard has yet to say anything and may in fact conclude in similar vein to those fans, that he was hoping for something more and will hold out.
I'm this close to the Premier League
The view is understandable. Wigan are the poorest supported side in the top flight so hardly fulfil the 'ambition' criteria at first glance and having flirted with relegation for many of the past few seasons, look more likely than ever to face the drop in May. Having said that they have been in the top flight for seven years now and in that time have had players of some pedigree, players who have moved on to better things, so it may be premature to sniff too huffily at this stage. Can he do "better than Wigan"? Possibly, but theirs is currently the only offer on the table. They may be in a strong position to say 'take it or leave it' and would Maynard really risk blowing his chance at Premier League football, even for a short period?
Of course they may not go down, in which case the move will seem altogether more sensible. However if they do, Wigan seem less exposed than most to losing a host of top players - they don't have many 'stars' whilst Martinez has already proven he can build a successful lower league squad and he'll have substantial parachute payments to help him along the way. Wigan might be better placed than many to bounce straight back, albeit on the back of low attendances. It may pan out differently for Maynard of course. If the Latics drop but Maynard shines, if he can score eight or nine goals in the remaining 16 games, then he'll be at the top of a number of shopping lists in the summer and likely to be available at a price more like Leicester's apparent valuation of him in the summer.
With regard to Leicester and their summer offers - whatever the amount was - there was serious money on the table and many fans still look back on that and say "We should have sold him when we had the chance". If you read and listen to the club line on this however you'll soon realise that Maynard had told the club he wasn't interested in signing for Leicester, so there would have been little to gain by the board in accepting a bid (and looking, at the time, like they were bailing out on our star player) when it would never have crossed the finish line anyway.
Maynard won the Golden Boot and Young Player of the Year award in 2009-10
A final reaction has been to bemoan Maynard's lack of loyalty, to complain that he is deserting the club after they've stood by him when he suffered a long-term injury. Look at the bare facts and that is fact. The club paid him throughout last season when he only got back on the pitch in February, but those holding that view should reverse the situation and look at themselves in a mirror.
Picture this scenario: You're in a job that you quite enjoy but you feel you could do better. You unfortunately suffer a bad illness and are off work for a year, whilst the company still pays you in full. A few months after you go back, you get wind of the fact that a bigger, better-placed organisation is interested in offering you a promotion, whilst in the meantime trebling your salary and offering you the chance to prove yourself at a higher level. Could anyone honestly say they wouldn't move company? Footballers are in the middle of a career, it's their profession. Yes of course they want their club to do well and many look out for their results once they leave. Hey, they might even go back every now and again to see old colleagues, old friends, but ultimately they're not fans. They don't have the club in their blood like we do. They want to achieve the best they possibly can, enjoy their career as much as possible and earn as much money as they can. Like the vast majority of other people in the country.
Let's not forget what Maynard has done for this club. He is, by some distance, the best striker to make his home at Ashton Gate in a generation. Leroy Lita had one amazing season, but you probably have to look back to Andy Cole to find the last time a player of Maynard's quality ran opposition defences amok. Don't let the last few months cloud your judgement as he has clearly been playing with the contractual issues on his mind.
The relief and joy evident in his face when he scored the late winner against Millwall recently showed a player who still cares about the club and one who was frustrated at his own performances. Many will disagree with this view, and McInnes himself dropped Maynard after one lack-lustre display too many at Brighton, but underneath there is still a player who ultimately enjoys football and wanted to play well for City. Remember his second season and his performances last year one he returned from injury. The great goals, the amazing first touches from the punted long-ball that set him apart, and the way he interlinked with Brett Pitman.
Remember he's only human. Don't begrudge Nicky this move and don't hold it against him. He's only doing what each and every other person would do in the same situation - looking after himself and his family.
Follow me on Twitter: @TheExiledRobin
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