ANOTHER week, another headline-grabbing goal from the man on everyone’s lips: ‘Connor Wickham’.
In my first column I insisted his presence was of paramount importance to a squad I couldn’t realistically see going anywhere but mid-table.
I was right on the latter part, thanks to the change in manager, but on the former I’m starting to form a different view.
With the sinking feeling following another heartbreaking defeat to Bolton in the play-offs came the ultimate sign the dream was over; home-grown Kieron Dyer throwing his shirt into the stands in a teary farewell. But that’s where we were wrong. Very wrong.
A record £6 million followed from Newcastle and the funds were used to secure David Johnson, Marcus Stewart, Jim Magilton and Martijn Reuser. We know what happened next.
Imagine Paul Jewell having £15 million to spend in the transfer market over the summer, and imagine where that could take us.
Instead of a player we must, unfortunately, be resigned to losing over the next few years, if we were to cash in while the market demand is high (with a dearth of real talented English strikers and the fallout from Andy Carroll’s huge sale) you could argue we’d be far better off.
Now Connor is a great talent and a true joy to watch, when he is giving those glimpses of fulfilling his potential (aka Sheffield United), but at 17/18 you inevitably blow hot and cold and for £15 million we could buy a lot more worth to our season’s standing than seven goals from 32 games. Under £1.5 million, what we almost got Charlie Austin for, can get you a 20-a-goal-a-season striker alone. Then you’d still have more than £10 million to splash on a decent full-back, flair winger (George Boyd?) and a striker partner for your new goal-getter. And signing Jimmy Bullard should not be a problem.
And then, of course, who’s to say we could not instigate a cushty little deal that also sees Connor remaining at Portman Road for a further season on loan, helping fire us into the Premier League?
Dyer’s return may not have worked out (his loan ends at midnight meaning he is available for Crystal Palace, but a betting man wouldn’t be wise to wager him staying) but Connor’s second coming could be electric.
It’s a legion of ex-ITFC players returning to IP1 on Saturday with relegation-threatened Crystal Palace. The Eagles should avoid the drop again though and it’s another chance for players to impress Jewell.
If Connor does go this summer the dream isn’t over, it is just beginning...
Follow @russclaydon on Portman Road matchdays for team news and #itfc action