Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
I can’t believe the Adrian Cieslewicz debate is over
But before I go on, here’s a little teaser. Believe it or not, Cieslewicz was our longest-serving player. Who do you think is now the player who has been in our first team squad for the longest continuous time? I’ll tell you at the end of this column.
Anyway, back to the most enigmatic player we’ve had on our books in recent years. His merits have been debated back and forth ever since he arrived from Manchester City in 2009. His talents and attributes were obvious, his ability to raise his game for the big occasion illustrated by his performances at Wembley and Brighton, a crucial goal in the FA Trophy semi-final and a series of good contributions in the play-offs.
He’s been a wild card that Andy Morrell has been able to turn to in times of need, and sometimes he has delivered spectacularly. Sadly, he never developed from that into the player he looked like he could be: a devastating, consistent match winner who would lord it over Skrill Premier sides, troubling for us only because we couldn’t ward off the advances of clubs from higher divisions. Instead, he goes to a club at our level, and one against whom he certainly an unusual history!
It’s a great shame to see him go without fulfilling his undoubted potential, but it had to happen. I hate to let my head rule my heart, and the romantic in me says that I’d love to see him stay and turn the corner. But my realistic half tells me that if it hasn’t happened after four and a half years and a hundred and seventy three matches, it isn’t going to happen at all. After all, he’s not a teenager any more: much as we’d like to indulge him and suggest he’s a work in development, the fact is that he’s now approaching his peak years, and over the last year the returns have been diminishing sharply.
That doesn’t mean I can’t feel sad about his departure though. He’s always seemed a thoroughly nice bloke to me, and we certainly have lost one of the few players in our squad who could take a game by the scruff of the neck and turn it in our favour. But it’s for the best that he’s gone, and not least for his own good. Cieslewicz needs a fresh start, and who knows, perhaps it will rekindle his mojo and let him unleash his talent in a more effective consistent manner. I know one thing: marry the excitement of a new challenge with his ability to rise to the occasion and I reckon we’ll have our hands full when he returns to The Racecourse to play against us in March!
But back to the players he’s left behind and the question of who is now our longest-serving squad member. Only one member of Morrell’s squad appeared for us as far back as the 2009-10 season. Step forward the new club stalwart: Johnny Hunt! Like policemen, the players closest to a testimonial seem to get younger as you get older.