Michael Kightly appears to be closing in on a move back to the Premiership with Stoke City, shutting the door on his six-year affiliation with Wolves.
In the cold, analytical light of day you can understand the deal from all sides. Kites obviously craves Premiership football, Wolves don’t want to risk losing a talented player for nothing next year and Stoke aren’t having to take a substantial gamble on a player yet to really make his mark on the top flight.
Handshakes all round then?
Not quite for me I’m afraid.
Should Michael not be showing more loyalty? For three long years, everyone connected with the club (particularly the fans) have stuck by him through what seemed like an endless run of injuries and grave misfortune.
He’d just begun to repay that faith with a welcome return to form in the closing stages of last season, but that, it would seem, is our lot. Thanks for nothing.
At 26, one more season wouldn’t have hurt him, even if that ultimately meant he leaves for nothing this time next year.
The club obviously see things differently, preferring to cash-in now rather than keeping the player in the hope he helps us bounce back to the Premiership at the first attempt.
Is this short-sighted though?
You can’t replace a Michael Kightly for £1.5-£2.5 million, particularly when you’re plying your trade in the Championship.
At this level, he’s something a bit special, a proven performer capable of unlocking the door, both creating and scoring goals for fun.
Even in Solbakken’s preferred narrower shape, he appeared to be a vital cog in the wheel in those early pre-season games, slotting in just behind the forwards and picking out killer passes in the final third.
I’m not sure who else can currently fulfill that role? Certainly not a Forde, a Davis, an Edwards or a Jonnson. Perhaps if O’Hara and/or Fletcher hang around, they can bridge the gap, but neither are a like-for-like replacement.
With only two weeks to go to the start of the season we don’t want to suddenly have the rug pulled from underneath us, with our biggest assets (Kightly, Fletcher and Jarvis) all heading for the exit door, with no time to bring in suitable reinforcements.
The current squad is more than adequate to compete in the Championship, but without certain key figures, it suddenly assumes an unwelcome sense of the average and unproven.
For now though, I suppose all we can do is grin, bear it and give the manager and club the benefit of the doubt.
But as for Michael Kightly, that wound will take slightly longer to heal.