Football League Expert & Columnist
Peter Beagrie Q&A: Derby can cope without injured midfielder Jeff Hendrick
Football League guru answers your questions on transfers, Wigan and Birmingham
Last Updated: 05/09/14 12:27pm
Peter Beagrie is here to answer YOUR Football League questions.
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about a team, player, match or incident that has caught your eye, a wider point on the Football League or something a little left field, then send it in via the feedback form at the bottom of the article.
Read on for this week's column where Beags talks Derby, Wigan, Birmingham and more...
NO BIG BLOW
Hi Beags, How big a dent will it be for Derby if Jeff Hendrick is out for a decent period? Would they need a loan signing or would it be a chance for Will Hughes to step up? Angelo Doni
BEAGS SAYS: Well, Angelo, if the Rams are equipped to cover an injury in any department it’s in their multi-faceted midfield. It is one of Derby’s main strengths and a major reason why I, amongst others, would not be surprised if they went one better than last season and achieved automatic promotion to the Premier League. I say 'multi-faceted' because they have midfielders with lots of attributes including physicality, creativity, pace and athleticism and players who can beat people with a pass or use their trickery to bypass the opposition’s midfield or defence. It is desperately unlucky for Hendrick to have dislocated his shoulder as he found himself starring as a first choice following the terrible injury to George Thorne.
The Ireland international has got forward at will and scored in the opening two fixtures of the season against Rotherham and Carlisle but in his absence County can call upon John Eustace, Craig Bryson, Paul Coutts and Omar Mascarell and, as you rightly say, Angelo, a ready-made replacement in William James Hughes (pictured), who has enjoyed a meteoric rise and is a proven Championship performer. If needs be, Derby could also play tenacious wideman Jamie Ward in a central three, with Simon Dawkins and Johnny Russell in the wide berths. So although it is always a blow to lose a regular like Hendrick, there are plenty of options for Steve McClaren to pontificate and ponder as he looks to maintain your club’s tremendous progression.
Were you ever involved in any down-to-the-wire transfers - and what constituted a medical in your playing days? Oli Jones
BEAGS SAYS: Yes, Oli, I was. My transfer to Manchester City from Everton was completed with five minutes to spare. I was sat in my front room in Formby when I was informed that The Toffees had agreed a £1.1million fee with City, but I was told I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. Then, though, I heard Everton had sealed the signature of fellow winger Anders Limpar from Arsenal, so I decided to phone then-Toffees manager Mike Walker for reassurances. He unconvincingly said Anders and myself could play in the same team but on further prompting said we couldn’t play in the same position. As a player you like to feel wanted but the very fact Mike had agreed a fee for me set the alarm bells ringing and because managers like to justify their signings by playing them in their preferred position, I opted to speak to Man City. My wife, Lynn, asked me if I knew where Manchester City were and I sarcastically replied: ‘The clue’s in the name, love, MANCHESTER!’. Lynn’s quick retort was: ‘I meant in the league, clever clogs, and for your information they are fourth from bottom’. Suitably contrite but the decision was made.
I drove across to Maine Road to meet Brian Horton, who convinced me that my signature, allied with those of Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh, would be more than enough to secure Premier League status and bring an exciting brand of football back to City. I signed at 4.45pm with the gong off at 4.50pm. My new team comfortably stayed up after creating chances for fun and scoring goals aplenty, but I then had to watch nervously as Everton avoided relegation on the last day of the season with a heroic 3-2 win over Wimbledon. As far as medicals go, I didn’t have one when I moved to Man City as there wasn’t time. Anyway, in my experience, if you were currently playing, put up with a few prods and pokes and, as the old song goes, ‘could stick your head between your legs and whistle up your Barcelona’, it was a case of signed, sealed and delivered. The process was not as scientific and drawn out as in this era of astronomical fees but it is great to see a reduction in the number of players having to retire through injuries that in yesteryear were career ending.
DISSECTING THE DEALS
Which late transfers in the Football League caught your eye? Pete Eccles
BEAGS SAYS: I don’t think there’s any doubt that the business done on or around Deadline Day has benefitted most squads. Cardiff, in particular, continued their recruitment drive with Reading centre-half Sean Morrison, Lorient stopper Bruno Ecuele Manga and veteran defender Danny Gabbidon on a free transfer from Crystal Palace, while winger Anthony Pilkington (pictured) will prove an absolute bargain having arrived from Norwich for £1million; when Craig Noone is fit these two widemen will terrorise Championship full-backs and supply the crosses that the giant Kenwyne Jones thrives on. Reading’s loan capture of prolific Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray is a coup, while Middlesbrough’s latest acquisitions have real ability – Yanic Wildschut has great technical skill, while the glimpses I’ve seen of Jelle Vossen have shown a clever striker who knows his way to goal. Other deals that made sense are Mark Hudson to Huddersfield – the veteran centre-half will be asked to marshal a Terriers defence often found wanting – and Fulham’s capture of Leeds’ Matt Smith. Smith could be seen as a familiar babysitter for £11million Ross McCormack or a case of Felix Magath realising that for all the possession and pretty patterns, The Cottagers need a bit of brute force to get goals. All in all, it was a very interesting past week in the Football League.
WIGAN WILL DO WELL
How do you expect Wigan to fare this season? Cheers, Dean Wallace
BEAGS SAYS: I expect Wigan to finish in the top six and, if the new players purchased over a hectic last week by your brilliant young manager Herr Rosler are able to settle quickly, perhaps the top two. There are some big and talented squads in the Championship but on any given day, Dean, your boys can beat anyone and in Callum McManaman (pictured), who looks back in the form and frame of mind that saw him tear up Premier League defences, they have a genuine match winner. Adam Forshaw, meanwhile, is a young man with a big future, as he is strong, robust, athletic and a goal threat from midfield. Adam and Uwe understand each other from their time at Brentford and Forshaw knows how to fit into Rosler’s preferred formations so he will help fill the substantial void left by Jordi Gomez and the recently-departed James McArthur. A lot could depend on the ability of 22-year-old striker Andy Delort, who will be eager to prove that his 24 goals last term in the French second division for Tours can translate to the Championship. Delort was fancied by many teams but never wavered in his ambition to join Wigan. One good thing, Dean, is that if these players, including Emyr Hughes, James Tavernier and William Kvist do well, there are great potential sell-ons. They all seem sound investments for the fee received from Palace for McArthur.
In a move that I’m sure, like myself, upset Jeff Stelling, Luke James has left Hartlepool for Peterborough. Do you think he left us too soon? Pete Phillips
BEAGS SAYS: Only time will tell, Pete. I put Luke as my League Two youngster to watch this year as I expected him to build on last term’s brilliant performances. At 19, his talent is still somewhat raw and while individually he possesses some great attributes he still has a lot to learn about team play. The very fact Luke put in a transfer request made it difficult for Pools manager Colin Cooper to keep him in the hope that some further excellent displays would drive up his transfer value for a later sale. Sixteen goals last term, including some terrific individual efforts, was a terrific return in what was a breakthrough season for the Northumberland-born young gun but my honest opinion is that Luke would have benefitted from another campaign with Hartlepool at League Two level. However, he notched on his Posh debut – in the 3-2 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss to Leyton Orient – and is definitely good enough to feature regularly in League One as either a starter or, like on Tuesday, an impact sub. A £1million fee was one Hartlepool could not turn down but Colin must be given money to reinvest in the squad, something that didn’t happen when your team lost Jack Baldwin to Darren Ferguson’s club in January and which definitely hampered Cooper’s team’s progress.
CLARK'S SPIRITED SQUAD
What do you think of Birmingham’s chances this year? Nick
BEAGS SAYS: As I’m sure you’re aware, Nick, due to financial constraints, the likelihood of a top-half finish is improbable and a flirtation with the relegation places is inevitable. Another huge turnover of players – 13 in and 14 out – means Lee Clark will once again have to wait for his new charges to get used to each other before having any idea of what could be achievable. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that Birmingham’s attitude cannot be called into question, as Clarky has identified and brought in players who put in a real shift and fight for every ball, something Blues supporters will appreciate. Another factor I’ve noticed is that your manager has gone for permanent or long-loan signings which will help massively with continuity, planning and preparation. In Wes Thomas and Clayton Donaldson, you have two frontmen who will chase every ball, challenge every cross and give Championship centre-halves a very tough time. Like all strikers, they will need a supply line and hopefully David Cotterill can provide that; he is an ideal replacement for Chris Burke on the right wing but is also versatile enough to operate on the left or in behind the two strikers. Given the experience gained by last season’s last-gasp survival with a point at Bolton, I am backing Clarky to avoid that scenario and ensure you are not singing the blues but singing FOR the Blues.
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