The loan system causes a great deal of discussion among the lower league clubs, and I cannot fathom why.
The big clubs love the system, they can give their younger players, or in some cases, players returning from long term injuries, the chance to play competitive football without their potential naivety or potential lack of ability costing them a win, it what ultimately, is a results based business. I don’t seem to understand why some football league clubs don’t embrace the loan system, as they can get players to improve the squad massively without breaking the bank, and if the players don’t settle or aren’t as good as first thought, then they are not lumbered with a failure.
Derby County are striding high at the top of the league, along with Middlesbrough, and both clubs are reaping the rewards of two highly talented but more importantly connected managers at the helm. In Steve McLaren and Aitor Karanka, Derby and Middlesbrough possess managers who have great friendships with other managers, enabling them to gain an advantage over other teams when looking to bolster their squads with talented but young players. The major example is Karanka’s friendship with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, in which Chelsea have sent many of their youngsters on loan to Chelsea, and it has proved very fruitful indeed. Middlesbrough possess the most prolific loan striker in Patrick Bamford, with 11 goals, who also had a decent spell at Derby last year, on loan, and he has obviously thoroughly improved. Middlesbrough have also strengthened in defence with the signings of Tomas Kalas and Kenneth Omeruo on loan which have helped to have the best defensive record in the league.
Derby have also made a lot of loan signings to cover the healthy amount of injuries they are picking up, and McLaren has a great track record in his time of Derby of not only improving the loan players, but also making them improve the team. He has also shown he does not have a type when picking out loan players, and has developed a decent friendship with Brendan Rodgers, who seems to trust McLaren to develop his players. Rodgers has sent both Andre Wisdom who was a revelation at right back last season and Jordon Ibe, on the wing, who excelled and improved so much that Liverpool felt the need to recall him and he has been a shining star for Liverpool since his introduction. Derby’s loan players are adding momentum to a tough promotion chase, in which the outcome is still very unpredictable, even though Derby and Middlesbrough are probably the favourites at the moment, despite both being inconsistent of late.
In the summer, McLaren and Derby realised they needed to cover the injured and excellent George Thorne, who himself had been a sensation when arriving on loan earlier in the year, and was a catalyst in Derby’s play-off push. To show how much clubs trusted McLaren and Derby, the behemoth that is Real Madrid sent Omar Mascarell on loan to adapt to the physical style, and his class has shone through a lot. Derby also signed Ryan Shotton and Leon Best on loan, and Shotton was typical of the McLaren loan player, solid and eventually earning himself a starting spot at centre back or right back and signed permanently in January, following in the footsteps of Thorne and the injury ravaged Zak Whitbread. Leon Best, it could be said was a catastrophe, and one that McLaren won’t remember too fondly, but he was eventually moved on as McLaren went for the experienced and highly prolific Darren Bent, who has started exceptionally. McLaren has also added impetus and momentum to the championship push by adding to highly talented youngsters in Jesse Lingard and Tom Ince, who has been nominated for Player of the Month in his first month at the club. Lingard needs time to bed in, but McLaren gives all his loanees a chance, which I look forward to.
The main point of this article was to examine whether or not loan players and the loan system is beneficial to clubs, and I think the majority would say it is beneficial.I know I have only focused on the top of the Championship, but that is where the ‘big egos’ would like to find first team football if they’re not playing at their clubs. A lot of people questioned the signings of Ince and Bent as many felt it would unsettle Derby’s morale and push for promotion, but they seem to have been well managed by McLaren and his coaching staff, however, despite not paying for them permanently, Derby and Middlesbrough will most likely be paying a hefty wedge to keep their players on loan. Many people question Watford’s agenda, in which they are a family run club who owns other clubs, and loan players to each other, and other clubs are starting to adapt that model, most notably Charlton.
People question whether loan players are actually playing for their club or for themselves, and if they are trying to earn a permanent move, then they most likely will still put in their best, won’t they? The biggest issue fans have with loan players at the moment is loyalty, what is to say that the player won’t just run and grab the first contract he can find, or possibly help out another club whilst on loan. A lot of fans have become disillusioned with the antics of Patrick Bamford, a self-confessed Nottingham Forest fan, who went on loan to Derby, and many questioned his loyalty to his lifelong club, but in reality, he was just doing the best for his career, which I accept with open arms.
The loan system works in a great way, as if you do find a bad egg, you can get rid of them when you want mostly, rather than have to wait to end a contract, and also young players, who can garner first team opportunities or find a club where they will be able to settle, as many players have young families, and that usually comes first and foremost for the players.