Medley leaves big expectations to someone else

Last season was a particularly great example of it.

Things are going wrong on the field, so in a fit of disgust those supporters determined to find criticism seemingly take a quick scan at the reserves and pluck out one or two names that it is ‘disgraceful’ aren’t in the team. With players underperforming and results not good enough, its easy to look at the unknown and hail them as the saviour to lead City forward from the mess.

Luke Medley was that such saviour last season with the cry of “why isn’t Luke Medley in the team?” usually following each and every defeat. Today’s news that Medley has rejected a new contract offer in order to find a club closer to his native London is another excuse for some to bemoan the young striker’s lack of opportunities last season; apparently the management’s decision to cruelly ‘ignore’ him all season has backfired and someone else will be benefiting from his talents.

The evidence to back up such thoughts centre around that goal against Wrexham last season. As a first touch on your debut, his wonder strike is one it’s unlikely we’ll see emulated for some time. Another promising sub cameo, down at Grimsby in October, underlined his undoubted potential. City were trailing and heading for a sixth defeat in seven when Luke entered the field. His presence and pace helped trigger some late pressure and he won the stoppage time penalty that earned a point. Look at his other appearances though, plus a failed loan spell with Cambridge City, and there’s not a lot to suggest he has yet-developed into a player capable of firing City to a promotion push next season.

Of course the argument goes he wasn’t given an adequate chance to show he could be any more than a player of potential, but it’s one that fails to acknowledge the bigger picture. Luke would have been worth more of a place in the team had those ahead him in the pecking order not been good enough, but were our forwards last season that bad?

Peter Thorne looked a class act at League Two level and certainly not someone to drop; Guylian Ndumbu-Nsungu was inconsistent but for the first three months of his loan spell at City, at least, did well; Willy Topp didn’t quite fulfill his big billing but there clearly must be something more in him to justify City paying a first transfer fee in six years and Barry Conlon, for all the blinkered abuse he got from some supporters who no doubt treated the likes of Lee Mills and Dean Windass with the same contempt, generally performed admirably after Christmas.

Throw in Omar Daley, who enjoyed a handful of excellent games in the strikers berth, and it’s not clear who Luke Medley should have been playing above. For all the problems the team suffered last season, the forward department wasn’t really the source.

And now, with Stuart closing in on Luke Beckett and possibly looking into adding another striker, the competition to play up front next season looks even tougher. All of which Luke will no doubt have noted and, living far away from his home and still only young, few would begrudge him looking elsewhere for a better opportunity. Like any youngster coming through the ranks, Luke has had to impress whenever the opportunity came his way and show he can do it in training and reserve games too. Finishing the reserves’ top scorer and his flashes of brilliance in the first team persuaded Stuart he was worth another deal, but had he stayed it seems unlikely he’d have played a bigger part in next season’s campaign.

So he’ll move on somewhere else where City fans will keep a keen interest and hopefully he’ll build on the success of a promising start to his career. Meanwhile, if and when things go wrong next season, another name will be picked from the reserves by some supporters to replace Luke as our saviour.