By Sam Down (Plymouth Argyle fan)
When Argyle supporters settled down to watch the deadline day coverage roll in, be it from Sky Sports traditional bonanza, or perhaps the less hysterical route of simply following the goings-on via Twitter it was more in hope than expectation of anything dramatic happening. We’re not generally a club known for rushing deals over the line at the last minute. However, there was a flurry of comings and goings between 8 and 10 o’clock and just when we thought that the surprises were worn out, social media was sent into meltdown by Jim White’s suggestion that our former loanee Andy Kellett was set to join Manchester United until the end of the season.
At first, we all thought it had to be a slip of the tongue. It simply had to be. Kellett was indisputably a good player for League Two level but surely he was no more ready to play for a top team in the Premier League than I am to play the game at professional level. However, against all the odds, it was true. I was sat with my jaw against the floor starting at my computer screen for the better part of an hour. The general consensus seems to be that Kellett was brought in to play mainly for your under-21 side. Bringing in players purely for the purpose of playing with the kids is a new one on me, but it’s almost certainly preferable to him being considered in your first team.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I loved having him as an Argyle player, I really did. We’ve languished in League Two for a good few seasons now and the sheer talent, confidence and audacity of Andy Kellett going forward was one of the real bright spots in what was looking (up until Christmas) to be a resurgent season for ourselves. He’s a likeable player and clearly a talented lad. I was still hoping until late on transfer deadline day that we’d have him back on loan for the rest of the season- and we probably would have done if not for United’s late intervention. Generally this season, he played in our 3-5-2 formation: a system that United fans will doubtless be accustomed to since Van Gaal’s arrival at Old Trafford. His main roles for us were to get up and down the line, support our three-man defence when needed but also to get up and be a danger for the opposing right-back as well.
He did the attacking side of his game very well indeed. He was (as you will see) very lively and always wanting to receive the ball when we were on the offensive in the opposition’s half. He has that rare technical ability to keep the ball glued to his feet when has it and advance forward in a way that is immensely difficult for your average League Two defender to deal with. Whether Kellett decided to cut inside, cross or run down the line was irrelevant. He is a player capable of going all these things to a high standard. His innate talent and ability to strike fear into defenders was exactly why I was still hoping we would re-sign him late on deadline day. It showed he was at the very least capable of playing at a higher level than this one. He also scored one of the best goals I have ever seen an Argyle player score against Northampton in December- just YouTube it, it really is THAT good.
However, where I have concern for him as a player are his defensive weaknesses. As good as he is an attacker, his naiveties in defending were exposed even at League Two level. It seemed to be a regular occurrence that our left-hand side was targeted for long-balls into the channel and into dangerous areas on the edge of the 18 yard box. He was too often too high up the pitch and was drawn into central positions on too regular a basis- all of which gave our left-centre-half too much extra work to be getting on with. Admittedly, his height is not the most favourable for a defender but his positional play also left something to be desired.
For that reason along with the sheer difference in quality, nous and pace that would inevitably sniff our weaknesses at Premier League level, I don’t think he’s ready to play in your first team and I’m not sure if he will be. However, there’s no denying he’s a good young player with a future and I’m sure he’ll be great to have around your youth side. With any luck he’ll come back to Argyle next season a better and more rounded player for our League One campaign! If he does get a chance in the first team and proves me wrong however, I’m prepared to eat a lot of humble pie.
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Sam is a member of Plymouth Argyle forum PASOTI.
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