McGugan: What To Do?

Lewis McGugan is a player I have written about before at length, and every time it seems it’s one of these debates about exactly what to do. One of the very first pieces I wrote for this blog featured the fact that Lewis was an obviously talented player who seemed to be squandering those abilities. Then he caught fire. Not literally I’d add, purely proverbially.

He went on a run of form where astonishing goals flew in from everywhere; we even ran a video based competition on which was his best goal. Of course the free kick against Ipswich won. However, that was all 2 years ago now. In the mean time, and arguably since the second half of that season Lewis has shrunk back into the shadows. Making infrequent substitute appearances, with occasional starts.

And it s not as if he is banging on the door to be in the first team. He isn’t. When he does play he doesn’t look great. Often so embarrassingly quiet you forget he was on the pitch. At least Radi, who I regard in a similar vein, makes ill advised poorly timed challenges to remind you he’s playing.

The future unfortunately for Lewis would look to be a move away I think, but the shame is after all the attention he apparently got 18 months ago whereby we could have got £3mill (again apparently) he looks like he will drift for free in the summer as his contract expires then.

Another facet is Lewis believes his own press, and rightly so when you have his talent. The problem is when you’re form doesn’t match then you don’t have a great bargaining chip. Look at someone like Torres who has great talent, but appalling form, would he still be negotiatecontracts like he did 18 months ago? Of course not. And the same applies for Lewis. His stock has plummeted.

Although in Giles Barnes case it was injuries I can almost see Lewis going that same way, and the precedent is there with Forest players before. Eugen Bopp for instance, talented players who just can’t seem to either fulfil it, or remain focussed enough in their career to be a top talent. They end up drifting down the leagues, or rotting in some reserves somewhere.

There is a reason he hasn’t been playing much lately. The competition for places means he isn’t anywhere near guaranteed first team football. When McLaren came in, his aim was to sculpt a team around McGugan, and maybe that’s why he failed. Davies managed to squeeze something out of McGugan, and maybe it’s challenging him. Before hand when he was good, there was some competition, but not a lot for his role. Now there are 5-6 players who can do what he does, so in that essence he misses out. Maybe he sulks, and doesn’t train, who knows. There was the element when Davies came in about saying he was too fat. Davies seemed to be able to challenge McGugan to prove him wrong in a way other managers have perhaps put him on a pedestal whereby he believes he is the best. That’s not when he is the best.

What’s happening now I am unsure? I think a lot of fans would be indifferent to his departure. A shame because we know what he can do. But not a shock, because he simply isn’t anywhere near consistent. There are times as well on the pitch he seems to sulk. Angry at now being allowed to take a free kick. His corners have been awful for a long time. It’s just not what you expect of your most creative player. They are an extreme art of managing. Look at Taarabt at QPR, some managers just don’t want passengers other see their ultimate benefit. This is why extremely talented players like them often move around. The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa end up moving around till touching down somewhere that gets them. I think maybe it’s for the best if we let Lewis do the same. Yeah he will go on and succeed somewhere else, but in the mean time he just doesn’t seem to want to be here, and even when he does succeed. It won’t last. He doesn’t seem to have the fortitude to make it last.