Oh No, Will Hughes Killed Bails!
One regular topic of conversation amongst Rams fans over the last six months has been where did it all go wrong for James Bailey?
Nigel pretty much excluded him from the first team picture in February and has openly touted him for transfer all summer. For a player who was our young player of the year just over 12 months ago, this never quite stacked up.
One rumour was that a rejected move to Wigan last January annoyed Clough, another theory was that he got too close to Crofty and the associated footballers lifestyle, again rubbing the gaffer up the wrong way. He also seemed to miss more than his fair share of games through ‘illness’ (not to be confused with injury), which may or may not sit well with our management team.
All I know for sure is that Bailey played one of the best games I have seen him play for the Rams against Stoke in the FA Cup last year. His performance against, tough, physical opponents belying his reputation as a lightweight. Yet he was almost never seen again from that day forth.
Whilst I am sure there probably were a few things which started the process, I think the answers to Bailey’s demise might be less sinister than you think.
The Rams now have a clear policy of generally developing and buying young players with a view to firstly competing in the first team and then ultimately selling them at a hefty profit (we haven’t got to that bit yet but I think we can all see it coming).
With Bailey injured at the start of the season, he was clearly overtaken in the pecking order by Jeff Hendrick & Clough has made no secret that Bryson & Jeff are his first choice midfield pairing. So at best Bails is currently 3rd choice.
Now let’s consider the emergence of Will Hughes, 7 years Bails junior. At Northampton on Tuesday both Bails and Hughes were excellent and popped the ball around superbly. However it was Hughes who constantly ‘showed’ & started most moves, Hughes who won more possession & Hughes who generally opened up the game for Bails to play a trade mark vertical pass into the strikers.
Having played in the Championship now for 2 seasons & turning 24 next month, the chances of Bails A) improving massively B) significantly increasing his market value are slim. The chances of Will Hughes achieving both A & B are clearly massive, thus when we need someone to step in, Bails might be more experienced, but it benefits the club much more to use Hughes.
Considering Bailey does have some market value (and also with the signing of Coutts), whilst he’s done nothing particularly wrong, you can see the logic in moving him on and getting more cash into the striker fund.
Should the signing of the excellent Valentin Gjokaj goes through as planned, don’t be surprised if Tommy Naylor suffers a similar fate in the not too distant future!