Nat has written this blog with his thoughts around the recent departure of Jordon Mutch.
It’s fair to say trust and on the fans’ part, empathy between Bluenoses and the owners of our club is at an all time low. These feelings set in after last summer’s firesale of anyone we could sell. I’d say the strife was somewhat forgotten at the backside of last season as we looked as if we might have achieved promotion against all the odds, but the failure to go up, the departure of arguably the most popular manager we’ve ever had and now the sudden sale of a young midfielder has left most fans, well, somewhere between apoplectic and seething, or just totally disenchanted. It’s the straw that’s broke the camel’s back.
Firstly, let’s assess Jordon Mutch the player. In my opinion, he was a decent player for us last season, in particular I did like the fact he spread the ball well to Chris Burke and whoever was on the other flank. Wide-play was crucial to our good season, and the fact that he got the ball early and regularly to the wingers was important. Age is well on his side, and I think from being an already decent Championship midfielder he will improve again and again. Some argue that he disappeared in games, others that he is nothing like the player we saw glimpses of at Watford, bombing on and scoring goals. Yes, he could’ve been better towards the end of the season, but if we we’re going to crucify every player on their dips in form last season we’d have just Burke and Curtis Davies left. Nearly everyone has a dip in form, I think he was unlucky that his came at the end of the season, because that is obviously going to stick most freshly in people’s minds. As for comparisons of him here and on loan at Watford; at Watford he probably was told to get forward because, no disrespect to Watford, (I’m assuming) they didn’t have the attacking talent in midfield that we had. Here we had at some stage or other Burke, Redmond, Elliot, Townsend and before that Beausejour availale to play out wide going forward. Someone had to hold back and defend, that was probably Jordon’s role.
Now, my opinion is that the timing and circumstances of this sale does not bode well for Blues. Why has he been sold before we appoint a manager? It smacks of desperation that we’re making player related decisions such as this before we even appoint a manager, as if we needed whatever money we could get and we needed it as soon as we could get it. There’s also the fact that, whatever you may think of him as a player, we’ve sold someone who, when fit, was pretty much first-choice for Blues last season to a team that also finished in the play-offs, just two places below us. A direct competitor. We’ve weakened ourselves whilst strengthening a team in and around us; is there another club in the league, no, another club in England that would eagerly sell a first-team regular to a team that they fought toe-to-toe with last season? Losing a player on a bosman or with a rapidly expiring contract is somewhat understandable I suppose, but Mutch had two years left on his deal. And with this embargo there is no immediate prospect of a replacement. As I said, to me, it smacks of desperation for cash, and it does make me think about where it might (or might not) stop.
There is the counter (and, in fairness, credile opinion) that this might actually be a good bit of business by Blues. Some think that the supposed £3million transfer fee is way too good to turn down. Now let’s be frank, £3million for Jordon Mutch, a guy who really has just one full season of league football under his belt? Who is good, but isn’t spectacular. Even Jordon Mutch’s nan would say that that is value for money. And then some say that the sale of Jordon Mutch might stop the sale of the likes of Chris Burke and Curtis Davies. Again, if it was a choice between selling one of those three, it would be bye-bye Jordon. But the £3million fee has already been quoted as £1million elsewhere, it’s just media speculation really. For me if the fee was as sizeable as £3million the Board should release it as fact, because it might explain to fans why Jordon was sold. And I’m skeptical that a club whose owner is defaulting on a £15million loan (apparently taken out to finance the club) will have their financial woes solved by the sale of one player; I don’t agree that the sale of Mutch will stop the sale of others. If it does, fantastic, but I don’t see it. For me, the up and down of it is that the desperation behind this sale is shown by it’s timing; why did we sell before appointing a manager? If nothing else from a PR point of view it gives the transfer credibility that it has been rubber-stamped by the manager or the manager’s been consulted.
The Mutch deal is the straw that broke the camel’s back though. It is the catalyst for ill-feeling that has been brewing for a while to really start bubbling to the fore. Let’s face it, the sale of Jordon Mutch during the relatively stable ownership of Sullivan and Gold might’ve raised a few eyebrows, one or two questions may have been asked, but would not have ignited the reaction seen on Friday. There would’ve been no suggestions that it was done to quell a cash crisis, that we are asset-stripping without any due care for the state of the squad. Some are coming out with the rhetoric that Carson Yeung and the rest are lining their pockets, there is talk of fans boycotting games to stop this. I find it absurd to think that the owners are fleecing us for personal gain. For starters even if he wanted to, Carson Yeung can’t receive or release any substansial funds of his own, his bank account’s frozen, which may be part of the reason why we are in the mire. I tink it’s a very simple explanation; we spent too much money on flops like Matt Derbyshire, Michel, David Bentley, Alex Hleb, and, that goal apart, Oba Martins. Players we must’ve spent an absolute ton on wages for, who did next to nothing as we went down in 2011. We now have to pay that back to whoever we borrowed it off. We simply put, overspent, in the hope that we’d establish ourselves in the Premier League but we failed, it’s happened to other clubs. It’s incompetent and irresponsible of the guys who hold the purse-strings to do this, but the rhetoric (which is growing) that we are asset-stripping to line Yeung’s pockets to me is ludicrous. For me, we have to sit, wait and hope that the summer, and this coming season generally, isn’t too traumatic for us, and that new investors come in soon to give the club some stability.
Overall, as I said, the timing of this deal indicates to me that we were desperate to sell. We’ll obviously have to wait and see about the rest of the squad, but I am anxious I have to admit. Mutch wasn’t one I’d earmarked as fairly likely to be sold this summer; if he’s been sold, to me, it makes me think how many others will? Local journalists don’t sound optimistic; how ‘in the know’ they are I don’t know, they could be playing Devil’s advocate like everyone else effectively is. I hope that I’m proved wrong in time, that we keep the bulk of the team together and have a good season like last time around.