Monday, 22 February 2010
Fagan's final felony
Once again, the debate about Craig Fagan reopens. And it is only ever Fagan's fault that it does. Another brainstorm, another self-thinking bit of red mist, and the hopes of those around him disappear. That it was against a relegation rival, and therefore, in a game with a big tick next to it on the survival blueprint, makes his actions even more heinous.
Fagan was sent off for two bookable offences at West Ham United on Saturday, but beyond the actual offences, he didn't seem to be up for the scrap with the occasion anywhere near as much as he wanted to scrap with the opposition. The moment he caved into Scott Parker in the first half it was clear he was having one of his mad days, even though it is only wisdom after the event that brings us to this conclusion.
Many have suggested, via forums and chat pages, that Phil Brown should have substituted Fagan at half time. Maybe so. But anyone who has heard Fagan speak will know that he is a peaceable, calm and articulate person who doesn't convey the image of a mad dog at all. Brown may have taken him to one side at the break to check Fagan's mental state and been as fooled as the rest of us.
Fagan's abilities as a footballer, to sound like a broken record for a moment, do not come up to scratch enough to justify the continued indulgence of his darker side. He is honest and his effort is not in question. But he is a player who is full of negative energy, and it's heads or tails as to whether he is going to direct that negative energy positively, such as when he chips around the wing chasing the ball and giving defenders kittens, or in the negative manner seen at Upton Park, which made him believe the world was against him and anyone who had the nerve to take the ball from him or get in his way was going to suffer.
Fagan, in the end, suffered. His team-mates too. City had created little but were still only one down and enjoying a propitious spell with the ball. That died the instant Fagan was dismissed. He wandered down the tunnel, cursing himself, but notably was not acknowledged by his manager or anyone else on the bench as he made his way past the technical zones and towards the changing room.
As there is no game for nearly a fortnight, the dust over Fagan's latest bout of lunacy has ample time to settle. Brown needs to decide if Fagan's contribution to matches on his best days - and there have been enough to make the argument stand up - outweighs the risk of having games ripped from you when he decides he isn't going to act maturely.
This is the Premier League, and therefore risks have to be calculated more and more. Fagan, who will be banned for the match at Everton on March 7th, may never play for Hull City again afterwards. Brown would have had Paul Duffen's support in taking this stand, whereas that of Adam Pearson, a pragmatist who isn't starstruck by football people, would be on the condition that Brown doesn't resort to playing someone horribly out of position in an injury crisis rather than restore Fagan to the team. The most obvious conclusion, however, is that Fagan should be sold in the summer if the Tigers stay up. His bridges simply cannot keep being rebuilt when there are points to be earned, and only a full team with the correct focus can earn them.
Meanwhile, Bernard Mendy or Richard Garcia should now be restored to the team in his place and told they have their best ever chance to keep it for the rest of the campaign.
Posted by Boyhood Dreams