By John McGee
Carlisle United gaffer Greg Abbott has a gloriously childish way of warning would be suitors away from his promising players – he tells reporters not to believe the hype and that they’re absolutely rubbish. In this spirit I’m pleased to report that James Chester is utterly hopeless. He lacks composure, is hot headed, rash and not liked by his team-mates. The best thing that United could do would be to release him immediately…
I jest of course. Chester is coming to the end of a 6 month loan spell which the Cumbrians coaching staff are desperate to see extended to the end of the season. Signed in the close season to cover the injured Danny Livesey and departed Tom Aldred, Chester’s role at the heart of an all new defence (Ian Harte, the one remaining part of last year’s back four departed as the window closed) has been vital to Carlisle’s excellent defensive record to date. Despite his age and inexperience (right back Frank Simek and centre back partner Lubo Michalik are both full internationals) Chester has undoubtedly taken on the role of defensive leader, marshalling his illustrious and experienced colleagues with aplomb.
Chester’s chief quality is his composure. He is unruffled under pressure from lumpen League One line leaders and able to bring the ball out from the back with the type of guile you’d expect from a player who’s trained with Rio Ferdinand. His willingness to do a job for the team (he played left back versus Southampton to nullify the threat of their wing prodigy Alex Chamberlain) and a burgeoning goal threat (3 so far including the winner against the Saints) only add to the young defender’s burnished reputation. When speaking to a group of Carlisle supporting pals we were unanimous in our view that Chester was the loanee of our current five who we’d most miss were Sir Alex to pull him back to Old Trafford in the New Year. Indeed we agreed that we’d prefer him in our side to the recovering fans favourite Livesey.
The Six Million Dollar Question. Is Chester Premier League, or Manchester United, class? I’m not sure. At 5’11” he is quite short for a modern Premier League centre half and has a tendency to be occasionally muscled off the ball. I can’t help wondering whether his best chance at playing in the top flight may actually be as a full back. The whispers from the Brunton Park bush telegraph suggest a deal to keep Chester to the end of the season may be in the offing. At that point Sir Alex may choose to take a punt on him – particularly given the dire form of Jonny Evans. He’d do so with the best wishes, and envious mutterings, of every Carlisle fan.
John is the creator of Bring Me the Head of Keith Mincher. Follow John on twitter,
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