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End of Season Grades
Written by BlueBloke on Monday, 21st May 2018 15:27

Football might be one of life’s trivial pursuits in which it’s never quite possible to gain enough distance; I still wince, for instance, at the two Bobby Zamora goals that killed our promotion dream in the 2005 play-offs.

Luckily, two weeks is plenty of time to have gained enough distance from the season just gone; no amount of McCarthyisms will make me feel the same anguish as that Zamora brace.

Mustering as much perspective and objectivity as my post-season state will allow, I’ve compiled my end of season grades for the majority of the men who pulled on a Town shirt in 2017/2018.

Goalkeepers

Bartosz Bialkowski – A*

Player of the Year for the third straight season. His reflexes continue to defy the real world as you and I know it. A call-up to the Poland squad proper for the World Cup would be richly deserved.

Dean Gerken – C+

Hard to knock a man who rarely plays. I did, however, enjoy his performance against Leeds in January. Given he was injured in the build-up and injured afterwards, I don’t quite know how he played. Perhaps it was Mick’s aversion to picking Michael Crowe, but Gerks put in a solid performance in one of our more memorable results of the season.

Defenders

Jordan Spence – C

Some solid, reliable performances and by all accounts some erratic ones. A model pro who deserves to be kept around for his positive influence and undoubted ability. Maybe needs a nailed down role.

Dominic Iorfa – C-

Started the season brightly, playing particularly well in the away win at Barnsley. Perhaps struggled for consistency, making Wolves’ decision to loan him out a little more understandable. No way he would have displaced Matt Doherty in their Championship-winning team.

Cameron Carter-Vickers – B+

The phrase ‘man-mountain’ springs to mind. Physically robust and dependable. Has signed a new Spurs contract, but would be welcomed back by most to Portman Road next season.

Luke Chambers – B

O captain, my captain. A cult hero if nothing else, but a move to centre back at the start of the season was something that should have happened long ago. Played with a dislocated shoulder, fractured sternum and broken rib this year. Monumental.

Tommy Smith – C-

Sad to see one of the mainstays of our team over the last few seasons depart for the MLS. Not without faults, but commitment and a fine goal-scoring burst in 2014/15 will be remembered.

Adam Webster – B

Flicking through the book of footballing clichés, the one that often gets used to describe Webster is ‘a Rolls Royce of a defender.’ Comfortable bringing it out of the back and will surely develop under a manager who encourages the ball to be kept on the ground more.

Jonas Knudsen – B

Has become more of a centre-back in recent months. The odd mistake, but generally a fierce competitor. Mad Dog is all right by me.

Myles Kenlock – B

Some confident performances make me really hopeful for Myles’ future. A touch of swagger about his play at times and someone I’d love to see given the left-back/left wingback role permanently next season.

Honorable mentions

Barry Cotter – An exciting debut and an infectious personality. Let’s hope he’s given a chance next season.

Luke Woolfenden – Made an accomplished full league debut at Reading. A loan to a League One or League Two club could be a good idea to sand off any rough edges.


Midfielders

Bersant Celina – C+

Continued the trend of having an exciting Premier League midfielder arrive on loan. Didn’t hit Tom Lawrence-like heights, but scored memorable goals against Burton and Leeds. Will have learned a lot, but not eager to see him return.

Grant Ward – C+

I’d like to see him given a run in one position, because the talent is palpable. A new manager could work wonders for him.

Cole Skuse – B-

Not a universal opinion, but I’d pick him more weeks than not. Has limitations, but also has the ability to do more than he’s possibly been allowed to. Protects the defence well.

Callum Connolly – A-

Made a bright debut at right-back against QPR, but excelled in front of the defence. Combative and has an eye for a goal, he’d be welcomed back with open arms.

Tristan Nydam - B

An energetic, tidy presence who was a real bright spot in a season of grey. Conceivably a first-team regular next season, even with more experienced players vying for a similar role.

Flynn Downes – C+

A strong debut against Birmingham on the opening day and gained valuable experience at Luton. Offers physicality and could likely benefit from a loan next season if Tom Adeyemi, Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell stay fit.

Stephen Gleeson – C-

Solid and unspectacular. Not necessarily what we needed when he arrived, but at least offered an extra body in a position decimated by injuries.

Mustapha Carayol – C-

When fit, he looked a menace. Enjoyed a devastatingly strong first half away at Preston, but a number of injuries meant giving him a new contract was too much of a risk.

Strikers

Martyn Waghorn – A

The best piece of business we’ve done since signing Bialkowski. He scored 16 goals and made ten assists in an excellent first season. Endured a barren run, but his excellent set-piece delivery and precise finishing meant he was never likely to suffer a Freddie Sears-type run. Speaking of which…

Freddie Sears – C+

Works hard, but often deployed out of position. Play him up top rather than out wide and you have a different player. Future seemed in doubt, but wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick around after scoring in final two games of the season.

Joe Garner – B+

Aside from his tendency to fall over easily, he offers a real edge in attack. Ten goals is a strong return and better than I’d anticipated. If he can make his disruptive tactics a little more subtle, he’d become a greater asset.

David McGoldrick – C-

Nobody will be more frustrated at his persistent injuries than Didz himself. On his day, he’s a luxurious conductor, but too often he looks laboured. Given he won’t get another deal with us this summer, I’d like to see him get another crack in the Championship with someone else. Deserves it.

Honorable mentions

Ben Folami

Has a real cultured touch and intelligence for a young player. Who knows how he’ll develop, but he could be very effective just off the striker in a playmaker role.

Ben Morris

Provided an assist for Celina in the cup defeat at Palace and put in a determined, if slightly ineffective, performance from the start at Forest in April. A loan move to League One might be a smart move for a highly-rated player.





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itfcbishop added 16:59 - May 21
Good post and agree with most of these! However disagree with Webster, been woeful at times with defending this season, but definitely glimpses of a prem defender! maybe a crazy idea but could he play CDM as well?
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Daleyitfc added 22:22 - May 21
In my view, there is virtually no-one in our squad who would deserve better than a Grade D : Bialkowski probably our best man but even then no better than a B-. If they really were as good as the ratings above, we'd have walked the league.
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monty_radio added 11:20 - May 22
Agree generally, but Skuse below Kenlock? And Connolly had some A-grade games early on, but faded a bit. Jury's still out for me re Ward.
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naa added 12:10 - May 22
Giving a C- as the lowest grade is being a bit generous I'd say and our defence definitely weren't B grades!

I like Webster, but all this talk about being a playmaker have yet to be shown in reality, and his defensive work is suspect.

I like Knudsen too, he has a good attitude but, again, if you study a lot of goals we've conceded they have come from positioning issues, or missed tackles from Knudsen.

Skuse has been brilliantly consistent for us and has done exactly what was asked of him really well. I thought Connolly was decent, but no better than Skuse personally.

Freddie gives effort without doubt and being played constantly out of position has hardly helped but is he really a C+ this season? Seems very generous. Though his goal against Boro was really well taken and reminded me of how he was a few seasons ago before Mick stuck him on the left.

Kenlock had some really ropey games too. I like him but his defensive work is suspect - which is probably why Mick preferred Jonas over him when playing a 4.
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dunkleberrydog added 12:02 - Jun 5
An excellent summary. Shows you have closely observed or been at all matches this season. I like your player grading system, and nobody will agree with all your ratings, as with any other value judgement. But great idea. Personally I agree whole heartedly with your A and A+ players. Waggers made the season so much more exciting, especially with the start we made! I am hoping Paul Hurst can handle the personalities, who’s aspirations are more aimed towards the Premiership than League 1! It’s a blind bend we are approaching........
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dunkleberrydog added 12:09 - Jun 5
PS that goal of Bobby Zamora at Portman Road was exceptional, but would never have happened if Curran had not carelessly lost possession to Harewood deep in the West Ham half. Not that I am still bitter...haha.
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jas0999 added 20:37 - Jun 26
There were certainly some D grades in there. Iorfa was pretty poor. Gleeson dreadful. Also, Garner hardly set the world alight. A C+ maybe and must do better this season. Otherwise a very good assessment. Completely agree re Skuse.
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