Wrinkly Pete, and why he hates the loan system

Peter Lynn: What does he think of N'Doye?
Peter Lynn: I wonder what he think of N’Doye?

John McCormick writes: Another cup weekend means we can take a break from the “Guess the score” and “Who are you” features which signal our build up to games. We have a chance to look at some other aspects of our club and of football in general.

Which brings me to Wrinkly Pete and a thought producing opinion on the loan system. It was written before we beat Man United. I wonder if that game will have made Pete want to add Dame N’Doye to the list.

As you may recall, it was Polonius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, who said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”.  If only the footballing powers had listened.

I have read recent media articles extolling the virtues of the loan system. One example used was that of our own talented goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, saying that his own progress had benefitted from being loaned out to lower-league sides. Possibly correct but where does that now leave Preston? I can already  hear some people say “Who cares about Preston?” but it is important in my opinion because I believe the practice gives only a short term fix and stunts the long term strategic growth of a club.

To illustrate, I have made a list of some of the players who we have had on loan in recent seasons. I have put my honest appraisal beside each.

  • 2006/7 & 2007/8 – Jonny Evans. Superb central defender who, simply by his presence, brought the best out of Nyron Nosworthy.
  • 2008/9 – Djibril Cissé. A pleasure to watch with an explosive turn of pace.
  • 2010/11- A bumper season: John Mensah, a class central defender, Nedum Onuoha, (who could forget his slalom run and goal at Stamford Bridge?) and Danny Welbeck, future England striker.
  • 2011/12 – Nicklas Bendtner. He wasn’t always popular with some of our fans but how we could now do with someone with his hold up playing skills. His goals return of 8 in 28 appearances stands comparison too.
  • 2012/13 – Danny Rose. After years without a proper left back, we were treated to one of genuine class, secure in defence and with the power and stamina to consistently support the attack.

Jake remembers
     Ki Sung-yueng
2013/14 – Ki Sung-yueng. We had been crying out for a midfielder with height who could ride a tackle, distribute well and score goals. Ki gave us just that.

Fabio Borini – Again he could divide opinion but scored some crucial and memorable goals, none more so than his sublime strike at Wembley.

Fabio Borini
       Fabio Borini
  • 2014/15 – Marcos Alonso. Like Danny Rose he was the complete left back and you do feel for Patrick Van Aanholt following in his footsteps.
  • 2015/16 – Yann M’Vila. For me this season’s stand out player. A complete midfielder, without whose presence we would already be hopelessly lost.

    Pete's stand out man
    Pete’s stand out man

Now, even whilst I was typing out that list, I could imagine people thinking – Well, what is your point? What would have happened if we hadn’t had those loan players?

My point is that their presence is purely temporary. Only one of them, Borini, has become a permanent player. Even here, due to the fact that he did not return immediately, there has been disruption to our recruitment or development plans. Would we have got someone better than the Borini mark two we now have if we had not spent so much time trying to persuade him to come during the summer of 2014? Would Watmore be further forward in his development if we had never had Borini on loan and played him instead that season?

helped or hindered by the loan system? What's your opinion
Helped or hindered by the loan system? What do you think?

I know this is hypothetical but it seems to me that the very existence of the loan system serves to hold back the progress of Academy players. Yes, I know we send them out to lower leagues to get “proper” game time but would they get their chance to make our first team earlier if the distraction of a loanee was not there?

Now, to answer the question of what would have happened to us without the loanees. Again this is hypothetical but I think it is likely that we would have been relegated, and possibly in season 2013/14 if you simply count up the goals scored by Ki and Borini and points gained in those relevant games. In that event, we would have lost out on a shed load of TV money albeit we would have, like Norwich who were relegated, had “parachute payment” money.

Of course, none of us likes to contemplate relegation but if you look at our record in recent seasons you would have to admit that statistically it is likely. My opinion is that overall, the loan system may have avoided relegation in the short term but has damaged the long term development of our permanent playing squad.

Wrinkly Pete

12 thoughts on “Wrinkly Pete, and why he hates the loan system”

  1. Best loan player we ever had was Peter Beagrie, when he went back to Everton he got back in the first team and was superb, so Everton fans started shouting to under-performers “send him to Sunderland for a few weeks!”

  2. Two points, John Mac. Google apparently work within the rules but it is still wrong and the rules should be fairer. Also ‘ when the wind is north-north-west I can tell a Warren Hawke from a Robert Earnshaw’ ( Sorry, ‘the rest is silence’)

  3. Watford, in the season that took them to the playoffs, used foreign loans from a related club to boost their squad. I was critical at the time but, really, the directors/owners or whatever were just very creative and very clever. They operated within the rules.

    And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of benefiting from the loan system. Use it intelligently to meet a need that can’t be met any other way, or would be met much more expensively. Use it intelligently to try out players or to free up cash.

    And when it comes to seeing if academy players can step up a club has to be in a position of strength or security to do that at home. We’ve rarely been able to risk results by picking our academy players, so it makes great sense to them out on loan.

  4. If the Bard was writing about Sunderland would it have been a tragedy or comedy – discuss……..

    However, on the loan issue Pete raises some very relevant questions, and his summary of the benefits we have obtained is genuinely thought provoking.

    I don’t really agree with it [ loans ] but at the very least it should be limited to say two in or out per club per season [ the Chelsea situation is ludicrous ]

  5. As the bard also wrote in Hamlet:

    “Words, words, words.”

    Although Wrinkly Pete wrote interesting ones too.

    Also “Something is rotten in the state of” …..the Premier League.

  6. And while we’re on the subject of Hamlet and loanees, how about

    “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”


    “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

  7. Liam Bridcutt, Will Buckley, Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Coates, Jordi Gomez, Charis Mavrias, Emanuelle Giaccherini, Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher and Lynden Gooch. Almost a full team (minus a keeper) out on loan. If (Vergini apart) Sam and his team hadn’t been able to make use of the loan system then I don’t suppose we could have brought in the five players that came in January. Early days I know but the four new men who have played regularly seem to be a huge improvement on the aforementioned. Even though we’ve seen nine go out and only five come in the squad seem stronger if thinner.

    The loan system also gave Sam the confidence to offload a high salaried goalkeeper (making a full team), Pickford having proved his ability in the lower divisions. No-one, not even Steve Harper himself, expects him to get much game time but that was an astute piece of business which was an indirect result of the loan system.

    Of course loan contracts can be a two edged sword and while it gives a club the chance to look at a player they might consider buying permanently look what happened with Vergini and Alvarez, neither of whom were wanted by Advocaat. An option to buy, rather than a compulsion to buy would seem to be a more sensible approach but that I suppose comes down to the parent club, the player and his agent.

    But where I do agree with Pete is that it makes long term stability difficult to achieve. Come the summer we could lose M’Vila, Toivonen, Yedlin and N’Doye from Saturday’s side.

    As long as the loan system stays in place astute clubs (and or their managers) will use it to their advantage, strengthening their squad and upping the value of players they send out (Welbeck, Rose and Evans) being good examples.

    • In respect of all those loanees, Malcolm, Hamlet also says

      “When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!”

  8. In essence the current loan system in operation is most unfair.If Premiership clubs cant give their players games then they have too many players. I believe Chelsea have over 30 on loan abroad. The scrapping of reserve teams has failed to help the development of young footballers.As for SAFC’s own loans, then we have benefited in the past few years although fundamentally if a loanee is any good they return to their parent club with reputation enhanced. If a failure then we wouldn’t want them anyway.

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