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To loan or not to loan?

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A month ago, Everton?s promising Irish defender, Shane Duffy, was loaned to Championship playoff hopefuls, Burnley. The move was seen by many fans to be a perfect move for the defender, allowing him to gain valuable first-team experience at a high level. Everton fans were hopeful that it would prove to be successful, given that fellow Irish team-mate, Seamus Coleman, who is now a permanent fixture in the Everton team, found himself in a similar situation last season when he was loaned to Blackpool, while Burnley fans hoped he would strengthen their leaky defence. However, it was not to be.

When Eddie Howe announced the signing of Duffy on loan, it seemed as if the Irish under-21 international would slot straight into the Burnley defence. Considering that Howe had a wealth of central defenders available to him, the acquisition of Duffy suggested that he was viewed as a better option than Howe?s current defenders. On signing Duffy, the Burnley manager praised Duffy?s ability and his ?fantastic attitude?, declaring that, despite his young age and inexperience, he would come into contention to play, but he also suggested that the interest in Duffy was long-term.

Indeed, not surprisingly, Duffy immediately went into the Burnley starting 11 for the home game against Ipswich and, although Howe?s men lost the game 2-1, the general consensus was that Duffy acquitted himself reasonably well, considering that it was the young man?s first competitive club game since the life-threatening injury he suffered last May ? and, amazingly, only his third in his entire career. After the game, Eddie Howe spoke in encouraging terms about Duffy?s performance, stating that, overall, he was pleased.

However, in the following game, away to Leicester, much to the surprise of fans, Howe had once again changed his defence, dropping Shane Duffy to the bench, with 32-year-old Michael Duff being the favoured partner to Andre Bikey. Burnley suffered their heaviest league defeat of the season, losing 4-0, and both Burnley and Everton fans wondered if Howe was right to drop the 19-year-old... In the next three games, Duffy remained on the bench and Burnley lost a further game but the won the next two.

When Duffy returned to Everton at the end of his loan deal, Eddie Howe justified his decision to drop Duffy by saying that he preferred the experienced partnership of Michael Duff and Andre Bikey, concluding that he felt he was actually ?quite well off for centre halves? ? a statement which raised a few eyebrows. If that was the case, what was the point in signing Duffy to sit on the bench? He has been doing that all season at a Premier League club.

Nevertheless, Howe reiterated his view that Duffy?s loan deal was done with ?half an eye on next year?, suggesting that Burnley are still interested in Duffy and will continue to monitor his performances in pre-season. It remains to be seen whether David Moyes will be willing to let one of his most promising prospects join Burnley on a long-term loan or even permanently. If Moyes is interested in the development of his young players, the fact that Duffy played just one out of five games will be a cause for concern.

Meanwhile, Duffy went straight back into the Everton squad for the away game to Manchester United, making the bench as back-up for Sylvain Distin and England international Phil Jagielka. If Burnley do express interest in Duffy next season, the young Irishman just might have been put off by his experience. After all, if he wishes to sit on the bench, he can stay at Everton.

Ryan Kelly, Ireland     Posted 23/04/2011 at 21:31:38

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Tony Cheek
1   Posted 24/04/2011 at 08:14:45

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It must have been a disappointing experience for Shane, just when he needed a lift. But is he really back-up for Jags and Distin? If one of them had got injured yesterday, do you think Moyes would have thrown Shane in? Hibbo would have taken over, and Pip moved to RB. That's how it works here. Bring them on gently. The man never takes chances!
Trevor Lynes
2   Posted 24/04/2011 at 08:40:11

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I truly hate the loan system as we use it negatively: we loan players out and bring NONE in! It's just an economy drive and we often have injuries and have no adequate replacements to cover. Just look at our benches this season!?!

I wish the loan system was abolished and then we would need to open the purse... otherwise, BK will always cry poverty and I for one DO NOT BELIEVE IT!!!

Mike Allison
3   Posted 24/04/2011 at 11:16:00

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I'd heard he was out of position for both the goals in the game he played and was dropped on merit. Burnley are a serious club with a chance of being back in the Premier League next season, they're not simply a bunch of no-hopers who exist for our benefit.

Eddie Howe is a forward thinking young manager, so gave Duffy a go, but Burnley have better central defenders on their books, and his comments suggest he only got him as a de facto trial with next season in mind, rather than truly considering that he was ready for Championship football at the moment.
Ryan Kelly
4   Posted 24/04/2011 at 11:35:58

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I wouldn't agree that Burnley's centre backs are necessarily better than Duffy. They're just more experienced.

Duffy was not solely to blame for both of Burnley's goals and he was not the reason why they lost to Ipswich. They conceded 4 to Leicester in the next game! He got mixed reviews ? some hailed him as similar to Gary Cahill while others noticed that he was nervous.
Trevor Lynes
5   Posted 24/04/2011 at 15:16:15

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What the fuck did we do BEFORE the loan system came into being??? We use it as a cost excersise and all the BS about giving players games in which to develop is not true. We loan out to lower our expenses and anyone who believes anything else is in cloud cuckoo land..

When we were great there was no loans, no Sky money, and no cries of poverty!!!
James Flynn
6   Posted 26/04/2011 at 00:47:47

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Send him to Arena at Galaxy before next season begins. If he doesn't get playing time, it's because he doesn't deserve it. Arena knows how to push a youngster.

EPL teams need to start loaning out youngsters to MLS. The MLS season starts months before the EPL. An untried player is better-off playing a few months in MLS than sitting around waiting for training camp. And then, maybe not playing anyway.

Young players need to be on the pitch. Not "learning" while sitting and watching.
Mike Allison
7   Posted 26/04/2011 at 17:17:12

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Ryan, I'd argue that at this stage of the season, in a serious league like the Championship (especially the play-off 'race') then 'more experienced' will very closely relate to 'better'.

James, I think you have a decent point, I think the MLS is a far lower standard than the Premier League, and our pros don't really respect it much, but young players will be much better off playing in that than getting drunk at home because pre-season doesn't start for two months. There's the obvious risk of burn-out, but for kids who've only played academy and reserve football during the season, then I think it's an excellent option.

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