The loan market closes tomorrow (August 31st) and there is bound to be a flurry of activity. Clubs will look to make their final tweaks to their squads until January. Villa are scouring the market for a couple of extra players, however, it is an outgoing loanee that has caught my attention in particular. Andre Green.
News broke of Green’s proposed move to Portsmouth on Tuesday evening and instantly, I was confused. On the face of things for me, the move doesn’t make much sense.
I’ve nothing against Portsmouth as a club. And I fully expect them to be in contention for promotion, either automatically or via the playoffs. But they are operating in League One which seems like a bit of a backward step for Green right now.
Yes, I can see the benefits of game time. And he will surely be starting games for Pompey. But I’m not quite sure that games at that level will be particularly useful in his development.
Green has shown that he is more than capable of being a menace at Championship level. A year ago, he started the season ahead of Albert Adomah and looked bright and lively. A superb curling effort against Norwich City in a 4-2 win showcased his eye for goal and he looked a threat in general, displaying a real directness in his play and showing no fear in trying to beat his man.
A hamstring injury curtailed his run in the side and that would require surgery and niggle away at him all the way through to the end of the season. However, if it wasn’t for those injury issues, then all the signs suggested that Green was on course for a really promising season.
That was a year ago. So if he was good enough to be starting games ahead of Adomah then, a player who I might add is woefully out of form now. Why wouldn’t he be good enough to at least be ahead of the Ghanaian again?
I don’t particularly buy the argument that he probably isn’t fit enough to be starting games after his injury nightmare. Green had an excellent pre-season, scoring a few goals (including a belter against Dynamo Dresden). He looked like he was ready to pick up where he left off and make up for lost time.
In an interview with the club back in July, Green himself was quoted as saying how optimistic he felt coming into this season. There was a real sense of belief in himself that he could make his mark.
In another interview with BirminghamLive, he seemed to set his sights high in aiming for double figures for goals for the campaign. So I can’t imagine that the player himself is happy in being farmed out. He appeared to do all he possibly could to force himself into contention for game time at Villa this season and seemingly being under the impression he’d be playing.
Of course, this was before the arrivals of Yannick Bolasie and Anwar El Ghazi. And their additions do look to make Green’s path to first-team football tricky. However, I don’t think he would be a million miles away even still. With Bolasie especially still to prove his fitness after a horrific ACL injury, Green may well have found himself with more game time than expected.
This will be an unpopular opinion, but for me, Green would get into the side ahead of Adomah. I think that the Ghana international was somewhat flattered by his stats last season. The goals especially masked over a large portion of the season where he was ineffective. I am happy to concede that his work rate and defensive covering were markedly improved. And that shouldn’t be dismissed lightly and has been important especially in helping out Alan Hutton at left back.
But there is an all too familiar feeling of frustration with Adomah of not quite being able to beat his man regularly enough and trapping the ball between his feet way too often or running the ball out of play. I really believe that we had the best six months or so of his career and he won’t reach anywhere near those heights again. It was a purple patch.
On top of this, Adomah is now 30 years of age; not old by any means. But I would much rather Green be thrown in and given the game time to develop if the opportunity arose. We always seem to loan out youngsters season after season. Eventually, they get to 23 or 24 and have only a handful of first team substitute appearances to their name before they are released. This absolutely cannot happen with Green; he has a real chance of being a good, regular player for this club.
With an individual like Bolasie on hand, Green could be learning from a proven Premier League quality player. That in itself shouldn’t be underestimated. Nor should it be taken for granted. It may still be several years before Green is able to rub shoulders with players of such quality on a regular basis.
Instead, and no disrespect to Portsmouth at all, he will be learning alongside League One talent. Pompey has some good attacking players – Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis for example. But you would expect that Green isn’t going to pick up too much that he doesn’t already know from guys like that who are essentially youngsters themselves and haven’t played higher than their current level.
If he goes and smashes it, which I fully expect him to do, what will he have learned from running rings around League One defenders? It may be a confidence boost perhaps, but I don’t see any benefits of having that false sense of standards. And similarly, is Steve Bruce really going to be swayed if Green does tear it up at Fratton Park? Or just fob him off further because he only did it at League One level?
If this was a kid who couldn’t get into the first team, then yes, by all means, loan him out to the league below. But Green has more about him than that. Perhaps his couple of outings so far this season were a little below par, but if we’d given up on Jonathan Kodjia after a couple of poor performances then we certainly wouldn’t be unbeaten at this point.
What makes it all the more bizarre is that Norwich and Bolton were both rumoured to be interested also. If he is to be loaned out, then surely a stint at Championship level makes much more sense? I can only imagine those clubs didn’t come forward, but I find it strange that no other Championship club has looked at taking him on either. Or if Bruce is intent on loaning him out, perhaps offering him out to other Championship clubs would’ve been best, whilst covering his wages.
The deal to Portsmouth was confirmed last night by the club. A huge negative for me is that the loan has been announced as being until the end of the season rather than until January as first reported. I do think that as the long season wears on, this will be a decision that could have some impact on us.
Right now, with games about to come thick and fast, I personally think that Green had a role to play and would’ve benefitted more by being at the club, certainly rather than taking a drop down a level. He’ll do well at Pompey though and they’ll certainly reap the benefits of an exciting youngster.