A new player announced, a new kit revealed and a new Government sweeping into power, all in the days since Bakary Sako whipped his shirt off to bid a teary farewell to Molineux.
Time has certainly flown in the three weeks since our gloriously futile final fixture, before presumably standing still for the foreseeable as we scour the gossip columns for news of a replacement for the Malian.
On past experience, the days from around now to the start of August will feel like a lifetime, as panic spreads to systematic pant-wetting when it becomes depressingly clear that we won’t be buying anyone decent over the summer.
So in an attempt to rouse the powers-that-be to part with those purse-strings, the following wishlist of wide-men has been assembled, which should not be idly viewed as unattainable, but seen as an integral document if we are serious about mounting a promotion challenge next season.
Please see below for some Sako stand-in suggestions, who could make all the difference come May 2016.
1. Ben Marshall – Blackburn Rovers
As a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy PR man back in the day, I was alerted to this young schemer by my friends at Carlisle United. Then a Stoke loanee, he dazzled in the Cumbrian blue (alongside Man City pup Max Clayton) and spearheaded a push to Wembley.
Recovered from a broken leg to play for Leicester City before arriving at Blackburn Rovers, where he looked in fine form in a 4-3-3. A more narrow performer and while his goal stats aren’t dazzling, a more consistent ‘7/10’ performer might lie in wait. A feasible choice.
2. Michail Antonio – Nottingham Forest
Again, in my Johnstone’s Paint Trophy days in 2010 (I should have been a scout!) this power-packed winger dazzled while on loan from Reading at Southampton. With Lallana, Labert and co put firmly in the shade, this beast of a wideman went to town on MK Dons in an area final game, at which point I thought: ‘Why can’t we have a player like him!’
The most obvious like-for-like replacement for Sako in terms of stature, speed, and propensity to frustrate. Forest aren’t flush either, so an attempt must be made, seeing as he is a proven Championship performer.
3. Max Gradel – Saint Etienne
I still cringe when I close my eyes and think of the time this player ripped Jelle van Damme a new arsehole in a pre-season friendly against Leeds. So emasculating and embarrassing was the sight that Mick McCarthy refused to play the Belgian left back in his correct position at the start of the season. At one point, as I sat in amongst the home fans, I actually saw Gradel grinning like Mo Camara as he prepared to skin van Damme for the 45th time in the match. How the Leeds supporters chortled.
His skills were as dazzling as his pearly teeth and for a direct, in your face element of excitement, we should have a look. (Interesting fact: We bought Sako from St Etienne too)
4. Matt Jarvis – West Ham United
Yes, yes, laugh all you like but I refer you to my fourth par. You’re not allowed to idly dismiss any of these suggestions. To dismiss negates aspiration and we all want to aspire. To dream the impossible dream and all that…
We know what we’d get from Jarvo. A bust-a-gut attitude, a pair of jet heels and a ‘thumbs up’ every time he sprints 50 yards and just fails to reach an overhit pass.
Wages are probably an issue but with Doyle, Johnson, O’Hara and now Sako off the bill, they shouldn’t be. Also, what price a cult hero? Fans love him.
5. Anthony Knockaert – Leicester City
Apparently he’s off to Standard Liege. Shame, as he was integral when Leicester pissed the Championship and he was out of contract. Get on the phone Jez.
6. Tom Ince – Hull City
Why not? Seems that his visions of grandeur were taking him to the San Siro, when reality delivered him down the M1 to Pride Park.
One of few bright spots for Derby over their tortuous closing months of the season and a clever player whose Dad is revered around Molineux.
A ‘statement of intent’ signing who should be courted. If Derby could lure him, then I’m certain we should at least be trying.
7. Alex Pritchard – Tottenham Hotspur
A wonderful young player who will go back to Spurs with a fresh appetite to succeed following a season on loan at Brentford (after a cracking time at Swindon before that). Registered double figures from midfield and like Sako, hits a mean free kick.
Wants to make a go of things at White Hart Lane and if Ryan Mason and Harry Kane’s elevations into the first team are anything to go by, he’s got half a chance.
But they’re awash with wingers down there and I think we should be pursuing him.
8. Albert Adomah – Middlesbrough
Didn’t do a lot at Bristol City but more than paid the £1 million fee back to Boro this season with some top wingplay. Boro’s dangerman and now they haven’t got promoted, we need to be sniffing around for his services, as he might just want to play in a civilised part of the world. A real statement of intent as we’d be weakening a direct rival and showing the league we mean business. Not a familiar concept to Morgan and Moxey this though, sadly.
9. Razak Boukari
Quite possibly a more hilarious suggestion than Jarvis or Pritchard, but equally likely to be the most plausible of suggestions, if he comes through pre-season. He was bought as a more explosive finished article than Sako but injuries have reduced him to a laughing stock.
What’s the betting he comes through pre-season and some clever-dick proclaims his re-emergence as being ‘just like a new signing’?