The Duke blows it

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Nathan Levi Fontaine Ellington, what have you done? And what’s more, why have you done it. After a month or so of rumour, guesswork and shear frustration, our big hope for Premiership goals has jumped ship to join his ‘hero’ Brian Robson at West Brom. Presumably on the basis that he knows a good shoulder surgeon. In the wake of all this different people have turned the blame on others and perhaps surprising the only person who seems to have come out of it scot free is our erstwhile chief executive. You’ll see what I mean if we take a walk through some of the theories.

Jason Roberts
We’ll kick start with one of the more desperate suggestions. Rumour were abound last season that, after Roberts laid into Ellington for shooting rather than giving him the ball against QPR (?), the previously best mates and “best strike partnership outside the prem” had fallen out big style. Some were sure that there’d be a woman at the bottom of it, most thought it was rubbish. Now this theory goes that the fall out was real and worse than any of us imagined, so Ellington no longer wanted to play with JR and engineered the move.

The Missus

Behind every football star there’s a good woman who wants to spend her time on the beaches of Spain, or shopping in Milan. The story on this one is two fold. Firstly she may have been pushing him to get more money; secondly that she wants a move to the bright lights and big time. Now I’m not buying either of these whole heartedly, it’s too easy to blame the person you don’t know or have never heard from, especially when it’s a woman in the misogynist world of professional football.

The Agent

For a kick off, who is the Duke’s agent. If stories are true then the main suspect, one Tony Finnegan, isn’t nor is he even an agent at all. Although more confusingly he was quoted as being Damien Francis’ agent in the summer also. One thing is for certain, this fellow has been doing more talking than either the player or club this summer. “Deal’s off”, “I think he’ll sign”, “West Brom are interested” the updates that we have had all seem to have come from this source in one way or another.

Given Jewell and Whelan’s previous outspoken objections to agents and the like, it’s easy to paint Finnegan in a bad light. Read between the lines and someone has been pushing the player and almost everyone is looking here. He’s an outsider and it’s all about maximising his cut, allegedly.

Dave Whelan

Rigid wage structure, unwilling to pay agent’s fees, doesn’t want to take a risk; changing his mind at the last minute and messing the player about are just some of the suggestions. What has happened with the duke is seen in some quarters as an example of the chairman trying to do top flight football on the cheap. To be fair it’s his money, and now he’s got us in the prem at least there’s another funding source to help ease the burden on him. Surely he wants to maintain it?

We may not have spent to supposed 40 million, but on transfers alone the count is at 7 million and rising. Purely mechanically he is the man who could have done something about this if he wanted to for what ever reason, he didn’t. I’m sure at some point he’ll let us know why?

Paul Jewell

Relatively blameless in this but did he push the player out? Could he have showed he cared more? Could he have convinced Whelan to pay more money, did he even want to? The story (admittedly a flimsy one) goes that he saw a chance to cash in on an injury prone player, unproven at this level whose form had been hit and miss across the back end of last season. He was more than willing to drop him when there was a viable option in the squad and so as soon as he signed a replacement, the Duke was left a message telling him where the door is.

West Bromwich Albion

The most ridiculous theory (admittedly a wind up by Baggies) has it that WBA were more than willing to take the risk on Ellington. Staying in the Premiership is worth more to a club than the £3 mil they paid, and injury or not, it deprives one of their main rivals of their most potent goal threats.

The Duke (1)
To paraphrase – He’s a greedy little shit who has turned his back on the club that nurtured him and made him the player that he is today. He even wanted paying extra for doing his job.

The Duke (2)
He’s at best naive. Listening to bad advice and being lead on by the lure of big times ahead that don’t exist. This one is mainly based on the opinion that West Brom surely can’t be a better option than the tics and the fact that his “agent” seems to have been doing all the talking.

Now I’m not advocating any of those theories, I’m certainly not suggesting that any of them are true, but the same applies to what the immediate public face of this. The fans blame the player, the player balms the club (“I’m a quiet bloke and maybe they were taking advantage of that” or some such), the club blames the agent. The Duke certainly had his best smile on at the Hawthorns yesterday, belying Jewell’s suggestion that he’d been in tears at the thought of leaving the club. So even now he’s gone we’re no nearer to understanding the reasons behind it.

Realistically, it’s time to put it behind us, to get on with the job at hand without him. Before we leave it what are the prospects. For us we’re short up front, and in the next couple of weeks will need to bring in at least one striker. For Nathan, well, he deserves a chance at the top level; I just wish it was with us. The suggestion that he’ll fail to make the step up, in my opinion, is wrong. With the right service he’ll get goals, he might not get 20 this season, but if he stays at this level he’ll get there (or close) before too long.

My one hope is that by the time WBA come to the JJB this whole thing has been forgotten. The game at their place is way too close for that, but the away fans should be a little more clued up to give him the Haworth treatment. Nathan has done nothing that should change his position in the clubs history. HE was faced with a choice and made it. Whether his decision was based on bad advice or lack of enthusiasm from our management, you have to assume that he thinks it is the right one.

He could have slated the club, criticised our fans (or to lazy the lack of them) or come up with many other reasons. Instead he’s told the world that as West Brom are in their second Premiership season, they are a better prospect than Latics. At this moment in time that is probably true. The people he’s left behind have a job on to make him regret that.

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