Yesterday illustrated what I have been saying for some time, that rather than trust to gnarled old pros seeing out the dregs of their careers, we should give youth its head. This is a crap division and is the perfect place to develop young talent.
Who had heard of Potts at the start of the season? We were talking about Montano and Montenegro and Hall and Brown, but this boy has crept up on the inside and, because injuries forced Doctor's Evil's hand, stepped up to the plate in a spectacular way yesterday. It is true that Barnsley offered little going forward so the boy's defensive prowess was not fully tested, but his composure on the ball was what impressed, with two of his crosses better than anything McCartney has served up all season. He brought energy and enthusiasm to the table, something so obviously lacking with the knackered old has beens, nearly weres and never will bes that populate our squad.
I'm not suggesting that we go overboard and play the Academy team in all 11 positions, what I am suggesting is that we need the right balance between old and young, between mediocre methodicalism and vibrant unpredictability. What this team lacks is a spark, the spark of life as Shelley describes it. Doctor Evil has built his monster but it is ugly and inanimate. It needs ten thousand volts shot up its arse, and the likes of Piquionne and Carew are not going to provide it are they?
I have called for Montano a number of times. On one level that is illogical, I accept. The boy isn't tearing up Division 2 is he? But football can be a great leveller. Surround a good player with crap players and you will only glimpse his ability in flashes. Take that same player into another team, and he will suddenly look like a genius because the quality of those around him allow him to play to his potential. Spurs fans will say, look at Scott Parker!
I cannot believe that Montano would be as ineffective as Piquionne. The Fly Tipper aint interested. He is marking time, collecting a pay packet ahead of retirement. Kick him out and bring in the kid! The sale of Stanislas was also a mistake in my book. He isn't good enough for the Prem but, again, he would have been a better option yesterday than Carew and Piquionne. And Hall? The boy knows where the back of the net is and would surely offer better balance than the Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledummer combination that Allardyce fielded yesterday.
The five substitute rule has definitely hampered the progress of young players in the division - exactly as I predicted it would. But Allardyce has been cowardly regardless. Take the Bristol City game when Diop was sent on as a sub ahead of Hall, who had been recalled from loan because of an earlier injury crisis. If the boy was good enough to be on the bench, why wasn't he worth "a go" in the last 15 minutes, playing at home to the club second from bottom in the table with the score at 0-0? Remember Sears against Blackburn and Hines against Villa? You don't have to be Messi to make an impact!
Why have we started games with both Carew and Piquionne on the bench? That's like being in B&Q and agonising over Crown Magnolia and Dulux Magnolia. Surely one of those two and either Hall or Montano would be a better option? There's no bloody way that Pardew would make that mistake!
Allardyce is conservatism personified. He goes with what he knows every time. The solution to a crisis yesterday was to revert to the Bolton Bludgeon lock stock and three smokeless barrels. Except fate forced his hand. Faye pulled up lame at the last minute and Doctor Evil didn't have an old lag to save him. You can imagine the mental torment. Diop, we could move him to centre back and...but who would I play in midfield? So he had to give Potts his chance, he had to trust to youth. And look what happened! The old nag Nolan was booed when announced as MOTM ahead of the young, and more deserving, colt.
Will Doctor Evil learn the lesson? No chance. McCartney will be back at left back at the first opportunity and Allardyce will stick with what he knows, playing safe and ugly rather than taking chances with youth and uncertainty. But Potts showed him up yesterday. Those who argue that if the kids are good enough, Allardyce will pick them, no longer have that argument. Potts showed he is ready. What a shame that Doctor Evil couldn't see that until fate forced his hand.