The writing was on the wall as soon as Jordan Ayew’s squad number was announced upon his arrival at Swansea City. No 3? You’re no Asamoah Gyan, pal.
When Ayew escaped the Championship confines of Aston Villa in January, the Ghanaian hoped for more first-team opportunities. He scored seven Premier League goals for a floundering Villa side last season; this was a chance to prove himself in a slightly more settled side.
His debut came as a centre-forward in the 2-0 win over Leicester. He was then handed a brief spell as a left winger in the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea. At the weekend, he starred on the right-hand side in the 3-2 victory against Burnley. Three games, three substitute appearances, three different positions, and a total of 49 league minutes.
The Africa Cup of Nations has somewhat disrupted his start to life in south Wales, but it is hard to see him displacing any of Swansea’s forward line; only four sides have scored more Premier League goals since the start of 2017.
On Friday, Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revealed that Patrick Bamford had visited his office to ask why he was not playing. The striker was yet to start after securing his Riverside return in January.
“He came to my office and I was showing him the reason he is not playing now, why he’s not in the team and he understood it,” Karanka said. “I hope he’s ready to play the next game because he came here to help us this season.”
If the manager truly did spend Friday evening praying to some warped deity for Bamford to be prepared to face Stoke on Saturday, he hardly helped the situation. The forward was not even named on the bench for the 2-0 defeat.
This is the latest chapter in a bizarre career for Bamford. Since Boro signed him for an initial £5.5million, he has 32 minutes of league football, each of which have come on the right wing. His last league goal for any of his eight clubs came on April 14, 2015.
“The lads have been in this situation before so hopefully I won’t need to draw on my experiences from last season, but if needs be, I will do so.”
It felt like Joleon Lescott rather missed the point when he explained the virtues of him joining Sunderland back in January. The 34-year-old promised to dedicate his “experiences” to the cause of the troubled club – “if needs be,” of course.
The issue with that is that Lescott’s “experiences from last season” came at an Aston Villa side which accrued 17 points, lost 27 games, conceded 76 goals, and finished a full 22 points from safety.
But that was a collective experience, a dreadful team effort which condemned Villa to Premier League relegation. What of Lescott’s personal “experiences” of last season, where he ‘accidentally’ tweeted out a picture of £120,000 Mercedes in the immediate aftermath of a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool? Or when he was seen laughing as League Two Wycombe equalised against the hapless Villans in the third round of the FA Cup? Or when he offered to fight a supporter at the club’s training ground?
You almost wonder why he has played just one game of a possible five (as a substitute), and was not even named on the bench at the weekend against Manchester City. Then you remember that he is not very good. You can keep your “experiences” to yourself, Joleon.
Some Leicester defenders engage in Twitter disputes with Jamie Carragher. Some Leicester defenders become embroiled in the never-ending argument over ‘player power’ which brought about the demise of Claudio Ranieri. One Leicester defender would be the perfect drinking partner because their surname is the same as a brand of rum.
Spare a thought for poor Molla Wague, the forgotten man. Leicester made two signings in January, and while Wilfred Ndidi has adapted well to life at the King Power Stadium, Wague has hardly been afforded the chance.
And Craig Shakespeare can hardly be blamed for that. Ranieri brought Wague in on loan from Udinese, but handed him just one start – in the FA Cup defeat to Millwall. It was there where the 26-year-old sustained a shoulder injury that has kept him sidelined throughout Shakespeare’s nascent reign, but Wague had not even made a matchday squad in the three Premier League games prior. Weird.
The only thing more surprising than discovering that Marc Wilson is on loan at West Brom was that he joined from Bournemouth. Even his summer departure from Stoke flew completely under the radar.
In truth, Tony Pulis probably only sanctioned Wilson’s arrival as part of his ongoing managerial feud with Mark Hughes. Not one to conceal his thoughts, the defender openly discussed his predicament at the Britannia Stadium with Stoke fans back in August:
— marc wilson (@wildog87) August 5, 2016
It was surely an act of loyalty from Pulis to bring in one of Hughes’ dissenters. It was certainly not to improve the West Brom first team; he is still waiting for his Baggies debut.