Wednesday, 20 May 2009
What's to be done with Lucash Neill?
Had you asked me that question at this stage of last season, my answer would have been unequivocal. 2007/08 was at best an indifferent season for Lucas. Time and again his lack of pace was exposed as opposition managers targeted the right hand flank of our defence. Neill compounded the problem by regularly going walk about and giving away the ball carelessly. Remember the thumping at Newcastle where Neill lost possession for the first Newcastle goal and was absent without leave when crosses came in from his flank for both the second and third goals? Remember the 2-0 reverse at the Emirates where the same pattern emerged? Remember Arsenal hitting pass after pass down our right flank at Upton Park, as Wenger pinpointed Neill as our weak link? (Ironically the goal came from a cross from the left but Neill failed to jump with Van Persie when he headed home.) Remember Neill diving in on the half way line for Ronaldo's headed goal at UP? (Poor Linda matched Ronaldo stride for stride as he raced into the box but was that vital half a yard short when the big head connected with the ball!)Remember Petrov skinning him alive at Upton Park? Remember the penalty against Birmingham? There were others but these stand out for me. Neill was becoming a liability and a blooming expensive one at that. Get rid I would have said.
But now? Well the judgement on whether or not to offer Lucas a new contract is on the back of him having had an impressive season. He has been a real leader on and off the pitch, standing up to Curbishley in a dressing room coup d'etat which precipitated Baggy Eye's departure as much as the sale of Linda, and standing tall on the pitch as player after player has been carried off to the casualty ward. Right back, centre back and central midfield, Neill has slotted in where he has been needed and acquitted himself well. He hasn't found an extra yard of pace of course, he just seems to be thinking more, that vicious tackle on Cattermole apart.
So what should the club do now? He will only get slower of course and anything longer than a one year contract on his current megabucks would be madness. But if we lose Neill, we lose more than the player: we lose a big man in the dressing room, a fantastic NCO who leads with pride and passion. He came for the money, he will probably leave for the money, but give Neill his due, he plays for the shirt!
Will he fancy an easy life on big money in Greece? Will he prefer less money but European football with Everton? Or can we keep him at Upton Park? I think Zola will need all his charm to pull it off. Money talks loudest for Neill, as was shown when he opted for us over Liverpool so I expect him to see his palms "greeced" in the coming weeks. And then the search for a right back and a captain begins!
So, should we stump up the necessary cash or let Lucas go?
Posted by Hammersfan at 16:35