Di Canio right to offload Medhi Kerrouche
Talk of a striker joining their A420 rivals has been regular since our County Ground clash in August. Instead of James Constable signing for Swindon, it was Mehdi Kerrouche who has joined Oxford for a month. Rosie MacGillivray gives her view on the move and why she agrees with Paolo Di Canio.
It is undoubtedly a brave move by Di Canio. Kerrouche hasn’t featured since December, yet only finds himself behind Matt Ritchie in the goal scoring charts. Many would say he has the attributes to be the natural goal scorer Di Canio so desperately craves. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Kerrouche’s attitude. Sky cameras may not have been there to witness the fall-out between the pair but the same rules still apply to Kerrouche that were in place for Leon Clarke.
Kerrouche has been consistent in front of goal throughout his career, yet Oxford United is his eighth club in under six years. Why did Al-Oruba allow Kerrouche to leave last summer after scoring 12 goals in 18 games last season?
Many argue Di Canio should be managing Kerrouche rather than offloading. Di Canio shouldn’t have to manage Kerrouche; a chance at promotion, Wembley and big FA Cup ties should have all been enough. It would completely undermine the hard work that his team-mates have put in. Alan Connell and Jonathan Smith requested extra training sessions, while – as reports suggest – Kerrouche quite frankly, couldn’t be bothered.
Yes, he may have been annoyed at being substituted with just 26 minutes on the clock at Colchester. But Di Canio gave him another opportunity the following week at Bristol Rovers, which he failed to grab. Alan Connell found himself in a similar situation in August after being substituted after 31 minutes versus Southampton. The difference is Connell took his second chance when he came on against Rotherham only four days later, when he scored two after coming on as a substitute.
Should Kerrouce score a couple his value will inevitably rise. At the time of Clarke’s temper tantrum, many fans would have been happy to lynch him and forfeit any sale.
To receive a player of Paul Benson’s quality – even at 32 – and shipped Clarke out at the same time was an added bonus. And should his attempts on goal end up over the fence, their supporters’ trust will have their precious feathers ruffled and in the process, it eases the pressure on Swindon’s wage bill. It’s a win-win situation.
It’s also worth remembering, the loan is only initially a month-long. Once you take out their game versus Swindon and their postponed game at Accrington Stanley, you’re only left with a maximum of four games. All in a period where snow has been playing havoc on the country – and more importantly the football schedule.
You would also have to question his fitness; he hasn’t played since in over two months and has been training in isolation. If he can’t motivate himself to train under the supervision of Di Canio, there is no way he’s training to capacity.
When Di Canio stated he needed a different player, it seems what he really meant was he needed a different attitude and ambition. Kerrouche appears happy to linger around the lower leagues, while forming a distinctively average journeyman career. At the other end of the spectrum, Di Canio wants big things for Swindon. Had either Danny Wilson or Paul Hart had this ambition, perhaps we wouldn’t be a League Two side.
It’s safe to say we haven’t exactly missed him either. During his absence, Town have suffered just the one league defeat, while beating Wigan Athletic before booking a place at Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Promotion is likely for Swindon with or without Kerrouche. Promotion is unlikely for Oxford with or without Kerrouche.
Had he been loaned to Plymouth or Northampton, many wouldn’t have battered an eyelid. The success of Swindon Town is far more important than the failure of Oxford United; and if we can free up wages by sending him to our bitter rivals, so be it.