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O'Neill: Loan Route Was the Only Option
Wednesday, 3rd Feb 2021 15:19

General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has defended the Blues adding four more loan players to their ranks during the January transfer window, despite the club and manager Paul Lambert having previously stated that that was an approach they didn’t want to take.

Josh Harrop, Luke Thomas, Troy Parrott and Luke Matheson all joined the club during January, taking the total of loan players to six, one more than is allowed in a matchday squad.

O’Neill says that the restrictions of the League One salary cap and the financial situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic meant that loans, ideally of players under-21, as is the case with Thomas, Parrott and Matheson, were the only route the Blues were able to take as they looked to add during the transfer window.

“People might ask why we have gone into the loan market when we said before that we didn’t want to bring in loans and that we wanted to develop our own players, but the fact is the football landscape has changed so much over the past year that we had no choice,” O’Neill told the club website.

“The Covid pandemic and what’s resulted from that is one aspect and certainly the introduction of the salary cap has had a major impact.

“It is going to be a very challenging fixture schedule, with a lot of Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday games over the second half of the season and we felt that we needed to add some strength in depth in certain areas.

“We were right at the maximum on the salary cap going into January so it was always going to be a challenge to get players in with the restrictions we are under. It’s not just us, every club faces the same issues and that’s why 70 per cent of the deals done in January were loans.

“Every club in League One and maybe League Two have had to go into the loan market. It’s a needs must situation.

“We knew that we would be looking at players that are under-21 but we also wanted those players to have first-team experience and that were readily available to go now and play straightaway and we are delighted with the players we have been able to bring in.

“They will add quality to the squad and they will be competing for a first-team place and not just here to provide cover.

“Obviously with Keanan [Bennetts] and Mark [McGuinness] already here on loan, we now have six loanees and we can only have five in a matchday 18 so that will take some managing but we have spoken to the clubs and they understand the situation and they have all been great.

“I want to go on record and express my thanks to all the clubs that we have worked with to make all our loan deals happen.”

Regarding the addition of Irish international striker Parrott, O’Neill says that came about due to a strong link the club has with Spurs.

“We have got a really good relationship with Tottenham and that certainly helped with Troy coming here,” he added.

“Obviously Bryan [Klug] has been at Tottenham [as assistant academy manager and head of player development] and has got those links and Troy knows some of the other staff here as well.

“He’s has been at the training ground before. We have played games against Tottenham here at academy level and he’s a lad we have been aware of for a while, going back to the days when he would come over as a young lad from Ireland.

“He spent the first half of the season on loan at Millwall and wants to get some more game time over the rest of the season. He had a lot of options so we’re delighted he wanted to come here.”

Despite the new players coming in this month, O’Neill says the club’s own youngsters are still viewed as a key for the club going forward.

“We have got some promising young players coming through the ranks and it will remain one of the cornerstones of the club that we look to develop our own young players and give them a chance to progress into first-team players here,” he said.

“But, as I said earlier, this year is different and we face the most testing fixture schedule over the next few months and we need players that have had the experience of playing first-team football.”

Photo: TWTD

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ArnieM added 15:25 - Feb 3
Well no actually there was another option , and that was you and Lambert departing from the Club.

TheSelkirk added 15:29 - Feb 3
On Town’s reliance on loans, the Blues boss said: “That’s the problem. If you get five loan lads in, five ultimately end up going back and then you have to keep going down the same route. You shouldn’t be in that position.

“Number one, you shouldn’t bring in eight or nine players in one summer – regardless of what league you’re in. It doesn’t make sense.

“You have to get them to gel and that’s a really difficult thing for any manager to do. Ideally you get maybe two or three guys. That’s enough. You can’t keep have this turnover. It’s not normal.”

- Paul Lambert (January 2019)

midastouch added 15:31 - Feb 3
Looking at the picture above even O'Neill's wonky-eyed stalker has given up on him now!

Suffolkboy added 15:34 - Feb 3
C’est la guerre !

dominiciawful added 15:35 - Feb 3

WhittonBoy added 15:37 - Feb 3
How can anybody disagree with him on this? Our hands are tied and quite clearly the players we have needed some help.

Anyone that is an avid Football Manager player knows that we've signed some of the most exciting wonderkids on the game, which actually is a very good indication on how they are in real life

.Great signings this month, let's get behind the boys!

Upthetown1970 added 15:39 - Feb 3
Let's see Mr O'Neill how many of our own youngsters get a chance. The club is in a real mess and having so many players on loan and out of contract really doesn't help at all. With loaning in so many players the club have created even more problems for its self.

midastouch added 15:40 - Feb 3
And he mentions the changed "football landscape", however, we're still just as rubbish mid-pandemic as we were pre-pandemic. And with Lambert still in the building we're likely to be just as rubbish post pandemic. They can make all the excuses under the sun but we're rubbish under their watch rain or shine. It's hard to retain any confidence in those that have taken us to our lowest point in generations.

suffolkpunchdrunk added 15:56 - Feb 3
No it was not the only option. We already had a squad the size of an orchestra to choose from, unfortunately their conductor cannot get a decent tune out of them, still forcing them to play the same old dirge, should have left the stage months ago.

buzbyblue added 16:01 - Feb 3
Firstly I don't understand why we loan out our under 21's to bring in other peoples under 21's?

Secondly as I said before should have cleared out the dead wood seniors, ie Chambers, Skuse, Judge, Ward, Sears etc which would have brought our salary well down, maybe to then spend on 1 good signing

mojo added 16:05 - Feb 3
Lol Midastouch. He's sneaking up behind him

DifferentGravy added 16:05 - Feb 3
It probably was the only option left......but the reason we are in this situation is because Lambert has had 2 years to put his own team together, his own tactics and formation......and has failed miserably. Now he is desperately clutching at straws and hoping that these last minute loan signings are going to change things.

grumpyoldman added 16:05 - Feb 3
Buzbyblue first part good point, second point would only happen if some other team wanted them, why would anybody else want them?

Theipswich added 16:06 - Feb 3
What does Evans have to say about the freefall ? It is time he made a public pronouncement on what his REAL plans are and comes clean.Put up or get out because if things continue in this way, we are facing relegation. The decline has to stop now....

BeattiesBackPocket added 16:09 - Feb 3
Again here’s been my point about Evans’ regurgitated 5 point plan that his supporters get sucked in by we’ve taken 6 loan players in including most youngsters. For one part of his plan was to reduce the need of loans but also to bring through our kids. So either by this they’re saying our own kids aren’t good enough or they’re stunting their growth either way goes completely against his 5 point plan! When will his supporters get real and realise evans has single handedly ruined this club, lied about his plan, lied to supporters about promotion pushes, stuck two fingers up at his support by saying be careful what you wish for when calling for a new manager, made the debt bigger HIMSELF by letting players go for free instead of getting fees and that started way back starting with the leadbitter s and Norris’ to now with 20 odd players contracts up in the summer some of which we have paid fees for then the players like Webster sold for 5 million to go a year later for 20! It’s depressing and even pundits and ex players on sky were taking about how having too many loans doesn’t work most of the time as they go back to spurs or wolves whether we go down or whatever so where’s the concern

LWNR2013 added 16:14 - Feb 3
Mojo..Midas is right. He is very close!

Tony88 added 16:23 - Feb 3
It’s boringarmy81 hoping to bore him to death.

therein61 added 16:27 - Feb 3
It's not fair on these young guys coming into a rudderless ship, we've seen what coaching positivity out of our youngsters has done to their confidence and that coupled with finger pointing from an error ridden goal costing skipper when he messes up yet again i suppose if young Luke actually gets a game then the skipper will be beside him at c.b poor lad will wonder what's hit him.

algarvefan added 16:27 - Feb 3
WhittonBoy is right we are living in very strange and difficult times and I agree with O'Neil, it's not perfect but if we want to try and rescue our season I think it is necessary, only time will tell.

I think lambert has passed his sell by date and has just not performed in terms of team performance, but we have what we have, changing management will not necessarily make us better or change the results, but as I say only time will tell. I think the best we can hope for this season is the play offs.

If you don't think your negativity on here is not seen by the team, you are wrong. Just support the lads and hope for the best.

oldelsworthyfan added 16:27 - Feb 3
Just look where we are, in mid division of the third tier of English football. Back where we were in the 50s. With the current regime, likely to stay there.

tractorboy1978 added 16:38 - Feb 3
Algarvefan - "Just support the lads and hope for the best"

As a fan base we've done this for too long. Blindly followed, throwing money at a club/owner that treat us with contempt and run the club appallingly.

Northstandveteran added 16:53 - Feb 3
And unfortunately oldelsworthy,

I can only see the situation worsening before it improves.

If it improves....

BettyBlue added 16:59 - Feb 3
How about freeing up some cash by offloading/sacking our non playing players, our over 30's players and the injured players and the sub-standard players.

That's at least a whole other eleven player team we are currently paying and carrying!

And getting nothing back or will ever get anything for.....

MonkeyAlan added 17:00 - Feb 3
Don't keep making excuses O Neill, its you along with Evans and Shambert who dragged us down to this level. The decision making at the top is abysmal. Excuses don't cut it. We didn't need to be in this position regardless of covid. I'm sick of your excuses. The club has been ruined by you three bellends.

davidsuperg added 17:04 - Feb 3
Not that I am a fan of the current manager/owner team, in their defence we probably couldn't have afforded to buy the quality of the players we have brought in so would have ended up with journey men coming for a pension.

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