Danny Mitchley showed genuine promise at Mansfield, but aprt from that hasn’t really suggested he’ll convince Dean Saunders to sign him rather than look to splash the cash on a more established player in the Summer.
Aaron Brown is what his pedigree suggested he would be; a sound defender whose qualities are obvious; the question is whether Saunders wants to continue his fetish for collecting left bakcs when he already has Neil Taylor and Mike Williams perfectly capable of playing there.
Kristian O’Leary offers the most interesting conundrum though. He has certainly shown enough quality to suggest he’d be a valuable addition to the squad, although I always get edgy when people assume there’ll be more to come from a player when he has got his fitness back; players don’t tend to turn into soemthing totally different and O’Leary is never going to turn into a box-to-box midfielder.
What he is is a strong, canny defensive midfielder. His strengths were shown off to their best advantage at Mansfield, when we found ourselves digging in and, able to sit in front of the back four and destroy, O’Leary turned in a fine performance.
He was much less influential against Gateshead though. When we needed to take the game to the opposition, a proficient defensive midfielder wasn’t necessarily what we needed, and the circumstances conspired against O’Leary’s ability to break out of that role.
Firstly, the bobbly pitch and wind made passing the ball around difficult. Secondly, a player looking to get fit hardly needs to play two games in three days, especially when the first was on a heavy pitch which will have taken a lot out of him.
I like O’Leary, and want to see more of him next season. However, I don’t see him as a solution for our biggest problem. We need to somehow convince a playmaker who can unlock defences to make the move down to The Conference. We’ve had a few over the years: Dave Brammer, Darren Ferguson, Peter Ward, Danny Sonner. They’d all have done! O’Leary is a good midfielder who can make a big impression on The Conference, but he’s not that type of player.
Sir Alan’s search for an apprentice goes on!