FRUSTRATED Rainworth Miners’ Welfare manager Kevin Gee has expressed his surprise and disappointment after two loan deals for Premier Division strikers broke down last week.
Gee’s side have gone four matches without a goal in Division One South of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, and he thought he had secured deals to end that drought after agreeing with both managers concerned, only for the players themselves to then turn down the move.
Meanwhile he has called on Wrens fans to ease up on the criticism of his current main striker and to direct their comments to the manager instead.
Looking back to last Saturday’s defeat at Kings Lynn, although the result wasn’t a positive one, Gee was pleased with the performance overall.
He said: “I thought we look something like our old early season form in that the team stuck to the tactics throughout the whole game, the shape looked good and we got behind them six or seven times to create a few half chances which, away from home against a top five side, you have to be pleased with.
“With injuries to defenders Mark Camm and Dan White in the week I asked Sam Purcicoe to play alongside Ashley Kitchen in the heart of the defence, and they were both magnificent.
“Sam was obviously pulled up for the penalty which looked a real soft one, and by the reaction of the opposition you’d have to agree. But away from home with a big crowd reacting sometimes those decisions go against you.
“The other goal came from the second phase of a corner, so not to concede in open play was pleasing.
“Obviously we are still on the lookout for a bit more fire power up front, but it has to be the right person and more importantly the player has to want to come. I agreed two deals with Premier Division clubs this week to take a striker on a loan deal for a month, only for the player to then turn down the chance to come and play for us. I think this is a real problem in the non-league game today.
“Whilst I appreciate that we are still seen as a new club on the block and consequently carry that bit of stigma when it comes to experienced players joining us, I can’t understand why, when given the opportunity to play football, players refuse it. We all know its a feeding frenzy in the summer months with players looking for the best deals for themselves, and as managers we know that if you’ve finished in the top five goal scoring charts the season before, you can write your own cheque.
“All managers with a decent budget will try and entice him to the club with exorbitant wages and/or signing on fees which sometimes turns out to be a great move for both, but sometimes it can go awry as the individuals, before making the commitment, do not know anything about each or the club they are joining. Therefore if things don’t work out through form, fitness or personal issues, as long as your playing football and it doesn’t affect your contractual rights surely it’s about playing the game you love, and not about whether you’ve made the right move, and it certainly shouldn’t be a sign of failure, especially if you’ve tried to better yourself.
“I find that a real shame when players at this level miss months and months of football. We all know that the strikers tend to be the top earners at a club, and just because opinions on them have changed within their parent club, I think its something that boards and managers have to get better at and work closely together to manage.
“That is certainly true regarding cash flows and budget, as for a lot of clubs it’s just about breaking even year on year, which not many clubs at this level seem to be achieving, on the evidence of conversations with board members in my Glapwell days.
“But at the same time clubs can’t expect a Division One South club to match a Premier club’s wages, since they are different levels, but to contribute towards their figures as a loan should be of benefit both clubs, something which I must compliment Grantham and Gainsborough for doing which has already benefiting Sam Purcicoe and Jono Williams.
Meanwhile, on the back of four successive league games without a goal to celebrate, Gee has called on Rainworth fans to direct any criticism at him rather than his players.
He said: “I know that Conor Higginson has come in for a bit of criticism over the last couple of weeks for his lack of goals, as of course I brought him in to plug that gap. But I believe in the type of striker that Conor is, that he is the best in the division at what he does, and in the long term he will be a revelation at this football club once I bring in other people to compliment his game.
“So I must ask the fans to be patient with Conor in particular over the remaining part of the season and then judge him in a year’s time. When he did have a strike partner to share the workload in Ian Holmes over the Christmas period we saw the real Conor, and hopefully with Ian returning for this weekend’s fixture, we will get the same reaction.
“But young developing players need support not critics, and Conor is no different. I would much prefer it if our fans had a go at me personally, rather than any of my players as ultimately I will take responsibility for all our performances.
“I’m sure our supporters would prefer to visit places like Kings Lynn week in week out, and the challenges they bring, and certainly playing in front of several hundred people every week.
“But the club is moving in the right direction now and we are looking at a long term plan, not just season upon season, and we mustn’t lose sight oft that. So 11th in the Division, two good runs in the Trophy and FA Cup compared to last year and in the last eight of the Senior Cup in the middle of the February is something we would have happily taken that back in August.”