Thursday, August 09, 2007

Remind you of anyone?

You could almost be watching Darren Bent couldn't you? The balance, the pace, the strength, the two-footedness....

The news of Izale McLeod's arrival has been well-telegraphed in the press, but its official confirmation was unexpectedly accompanied by news of Zheng Zhi's return to The Valley on a permanent basis.

Our lack of pace up front (in the absence of Varney) was very evident against Braga, and Pards has moved quickly and intelligently to snap up one of the gems of the lower leagues. At 22-years old, he is the right age and the fee seems reasonable. Once again, it suggests strongly that lessons have been learnt from last season, and if promotion is not achieved instantaneously, we should have a terrific young squad ready to try again in 08/09.

Zheng generally left a favourable impression last season. It would have been hard enough to adapt to Premiership football at the best of times, without the mini-crisis that the club additionally found themselves in.

It was never entirely clear what his best position was, but his all-action style went down well with the fans, and ironically perhaps is better-suited for the Championship. He provides an interesting option alongside Holland or Semedo in midfield, but perhaps most interestingly as a deep lying second striker, particularly away from home.

Although we start with almost a clean slate from last season, it is difficult to deny that we have the strongest and most lively squad in the division. Going forward, we should be a joy to watch with numerous creatively-minded players able to score and create goals. Souleymayne Diawara's (regretful) departure leaves us a little short in central defence, but I continue to believe that 6/1 for the title provides value that might best be described as 'interesting.'

Finally, a word on the news that radio commentary will be unavailable outside of London next season. Lots of people have been screwed by our relegation (not least those that lost their jobs), but now those fans who have the temerity to locate themselves outside of the big smoke are losing their commentaries. Frankly if I'm honest, it makes this blog a little redundant as a result.

The argument that the club would be obliged to give up the independence of its website by offering a subscription-based service, is a little odd given the regular enticements to piss money up the wall with Paddy Power, or via a Llanera Spanish property.

The 'obligation' to charge fans for an audio service sounds like one of those dumb rules unique to the football industry. Then again, give people the option to pay if they want to. There's no fundamental reason why the service should be free. In the meantime, the club have certainly given their many Valley Gold members around the world something to ponder when that subscription comes up for renewal.


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