Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Has Andre Blackman blown it at Wimbledon?


Back in August, I wrote on this blog about how lucky AFC Wimbledon were to have a supremely talented 20-year-old left back on their books in Andre Blackman. I said this with some caveats though. Blackman's already been shown the door at few league clubs (a level at which he is easily talented enough to play), and the worry was that his attitude and lack of discipline would get the better of him. Sadly, these caveats are looking quite accurate at the moment.

Blackman was - and I'm going on overheard fan conversations here - apparently seen stropping off in the car park while his teammates were preparing to kick off against Eastbourne yesterday, leaving flu-hit Wimbledon to name only three subs on their bench. Who knows, maybe Blackman had flu too and was just frustrated that he couldn't play, but whatever the cause was, it's another worry to add to Blackman's growing list. There are plenty of rumours as to why he got kicked out of other clubs - most of them relating to off-field matters - but it's on the field where the concerns are at the moment.

Wimbledon started the season short of cover at left back. But this wasn't too big a problem because Blackman looked a nailed-on starter for that position. Quick, skilful, audacious, attack-minded - Blackman essentially looked like an exciting winger that could defend a bit. On the ball, there are comparisons with several Premier League left backs - with aspects of Ashley Cole, Micah Richards, Gareth Bale and Patrice Evra in the way he plays. Defensively, he's a bit naive and prone to being dragged out of position. And by "dragged out of position", what I really mean is "caught upfield after neglecting his defensive duties".

The frustrating thing is, it's not always naivety that makes him a liability. Sometimes it's just flagrant disregard for tactics. We've even seen him dispute shouted instructions from the bench. Like the time when, positioned as cover on the half-way line for a corner, like full-backs often are - he started creeping forward leaving only one man back. And when told to get back to his position, he started gesticulating at the bench as if he knew best and that going forward was the correct thing to do. Even if it was, that's a debate for the dressing room afterwards. When you're on the pitch, you do what the coaches tell you to do.

If you'd seen Blackman play during pre-season you'd understand why I thought he could be one of the stand-out players in the division. AFC Wimbledon manager Terry Brown agreed, labelling Blackman as "Premier League or Championship quality". But it's just not worked out for him yet. He's not been able to find a way past solid Brentford loanee Chris Bush into the first team of late, and Brown is now making noises about finding another left-back in January.

One surprising thing is that Brown hasn't really given Blackman a go on the left wing. I'm a huge admirer of the manager and I'm sure he knows better than me, but a player of Blackman's touch, pace and skill would presumably do quite well running at an opposition full-back. I'd like to see it tried once.

If Wimbledon do sign another left-back in January, I worry that could be the last we'll see of Blackman. And for such a talented player to just simply not be able to knuckle down and work hard at his game, listen to instructions and make progress, would be a huge pity. If he applied himself, he'd be playing league football in no time.

I'm sure most supporters can think of a player they've watched as a youngster who looked supremely talented, but just never quite had the mindset of a professional athlete - and thus didn't make the grade. Andre Blackman may be just the next in a long line of gifted players that don't fulfil their potential. But with the ability he has, it really wouldn't take a hell of a lot of knuckling down for him to regularly be one of the best players on the pitch.

I hope I'm wrong to be worried. I hope we see what he's really capable of in the second half of the season and that this talented but troubled soul can somehow channel his angst into terrorising the opposition. But I'm increasingly concerned that Andre Blackman may have kicked over his bar stool at the Last Chance saloon, and is now squaring up to nobody in particular, possibly just his own reflection in a mirror, as a potentially brilliant career starts to slip from his grasp.

24 comments:

Shoeless Joe said...

Bit silly to base an entire article on "overheard fan conversations". Blackman was not even at the ground on Tuesday so can hardly have been seen "stropping off in the car park".

Anonymous said...

Blackman was ill and told not to come in so he wasn't even there to storm off. Any old crap will do for an article though I suppose.

Narrow The Angle said...

Thanks for both the above comments. The blog was not based entirely on the overheard conversation - that was just the catalyst that provoked a piece that needed writing anyway, ie. why isn't Blackman not only the first name on Wimbledon's teamsheet, but not even getting in the team when he's so talented?

And it was very much a 'blog', rather than a piece of professional journalism. This site is a blog. If, in comparison, some of the other pieces on here are written in a slightly more rigorous style, that's probably just my day job rubbing off on my writing style (I work for a magazine). But I'm allowed to blog in an off-the-cuff manner just like anyone else too. I might write in any number of different styles on here, since I do this purely for enjoyment. You'll notice that this blog does not carry advertising.

I would hope most people would take the article in the spirit it was intended, and not think that I was looking to create a scandal out of whether Blackman did or didn't storm off. I frankly don't care if he did or didn't, but having paid for a season ticket partly on the strength of his barnstorming pre-season performances, I'm somewhat irritated that he seems nowhere near the first team at present - for many reasons.

Anonymous said...

Buying a season based on one signing probably isn't the wisest of decisions to be honest.

Whilst you claim to not care if he stormed off your headline about him "blowing it" makes no sense without him doing something other than be ill.

Shame on whoever lied to you in the first place - if I was you I'd look for better sources for your catalyst moments. Why isn't Andre in the first team? Yesterday because he was not there as he is unwell. Not quite as sexy though I'll give you that.

Narrow The Angle said...

"Whilst you claim to not care if he stormed off your headline about him "blowing it" makes no sense without him doing something other than be ill."

I was asking the question: has he blown it? Not stating it as fact. The piece is not meant to be sexy, it's meant to ask: why is he not fulfilling his potential? If he was sick yesterday (he may well have been sick, as I acknowledged in the piece), why hasn't he been getting in the team all the other weeks? On pure ability and skill, only Kedwell can touch him. So why is he warming the bench? We all know Terry is a good judge of players.

Nobody lied to me. They said it to their friends next to them, and a couple of us overheard it. Not remotely a good enough source for a piece of proper journalism, but enough to jog my memory that I'd intended to get round to writing a blog on Blackman.

Lanterne Rouge said...

Personally, I value these kinds of eye witness accounts as they provide background that a newspaper or television is unlikely to provide, cooped up as the journalists tend to be in the press boxes and tea rooms of various clubs. In my view this is a perfectly valid piece of opinion. It also makes me want to see Blackman play in the flesh as he sounds like a real talent.

Anonymous said...

Cherrywomble.....Just read it and nothing wrong with it. You are right, he would be a wasted talent but then again he needs to buckle down. I sat near his mum at Kettering away and the support his mum gives him is fantastic. Considering she had to make the journey from Norwood to Kettering with her 3 year old son in hand speaks volumes that he has the support behind him but needs to keep his gob shut and produce the magic he is starving us of.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said 'Blackman was ill and told not to come in so he wasn't even there to storm off. Any old crap will do for an article though I suppose.'

Actually, Blackman was at the game, and he was watching the match from the front of the Press area, but any old crap will do when having a pop at a fellow fan I suppose.

Seventy said...

Saw Blackman play earlier in the season, looks a real talent, a player that any team in that division would be trying very hard to get the best out of.

Can't comment on this particular rumour (and wouldn't dare!) but enjoyed the article nevertheless.

record said...

Nice article - ignore the keyboard warriors. I must admit i was never convinced by Blackman as a left back but can see the value in trying him further forward.

Perhaps another manager will give him a try there though, as Terry Brown seems to have lost faith. Think he will move on this window.

Whiters said...

'I'm sure most supporters can think of a player they've watched as a youngster who looked supremely talented, but just never quite had the mindset of a professional athlete - and thus didn't make the grade.'

At Southampton we had a playmaking central midfielder called Neal Bartlett who started a few Premier League games at 18 at the start of 1993-94, including a great performance against Man U.

I wouldn't say he had an attitude problem as such but by about 21 he had decided that pro football wasn't for him and I believe he eventually joined the army.

Bruver said...

Whilst i very much enjoyed reading this article, i was sad to see the response from some people trying to bash it. As the writer says it's not professional journalism. It's an opinion, a question of 'why isn't he in the team?'

Still - I guess not everyone can put down their words quite so well as the writer. I'd love to see more of this stuff on the inside of the back pages rather than training ground bust-ups, adultery pictuers of Ashley Cole getting another speeing fine.

Maybe your next article could focus on why Villa, Everton and Fulham are struggling so much this season?

Thanks

Narrow The Angle said...

Latest on Blackman. He's on trial at Oldham:

http://www.surreyherald.co.uk/surrey-sport/afcwimbledon/2011/01/12/oldham-athletic-hand-trial-to-afc-wimbledon-defender-andre-blackman-86289-27975109/

Narrow The Angle said...

Another update on Andre Blackman. He's on trial at Notts County. Could he get a League One contract for 2011/12?

Martin Allen + Andre Blackman = box of frogs.

Would be good to see AB make the most of his talents though.

Anonymous said...

Update on Andre Blackman. On trial with Celtic for two weeks. Played an hour in bounce match for the Development squad against Rangers the other day and impressed but picked up a knock.

Anonymous said...

Another update on Andre Blackman. He is on trial at Celtic, Neil Lennon says he has been impressed by him.

Anonymous said...

Another update. how poor is the SPL if the second biggest club can take AFC rejects.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty obvious from this blog and other pieces written that Andre Blackman is a rough gem. Hearing rumours tonight that he is about to sign for Celtic and that led me here. I will reserve judgement (if this happens) until I see the boy play. Maybe he has grown up a little and maybe the support group in the background of a massive club like Celtic will be enough to get the best out of him. Maybe nobody can do that. We will see.
And Celtic aren't the second biggest club by any stretch of the imagination....

Ryan Sanford said...

@ Anonymous who states the SPL is poor.

Yes, if the SPL is so "poor" then why is it that Celtic's two on-loan centerbacks are high flying on the "ever so competitive" Championship? Hooiveld and O'Dea are both highly rated at their clubs but can't even get a game at Celtic...

SPL under rated, English leagues over rated.

Mark Brewes said...

He's signed an 18 month contract at celtic

Narrow The Angle said...

Here's the BBC story on Andre Blackman joining Celtic.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/15804350.stm

Very best of luck to him. Hope he fulfills his undoubted potential.

Mikeybhoy7 said...

Celtic are the 2nd biggest club... In Britain probably. To think they are the 2nd biggest club in the SPL just shows you how little you know about the SPL. Ibrox stadium could fit inside Celtic Park, Rangers have nowhere near the Global fanbase of Celtic, Rangers are financially ruined and going into administration by Feb'12. Good luck to you Andre and welcome to Paradise!

Anonymous said...

Just over a year on from the last comment and he's been loaned to ICT, won man of the match in his first game, kicked out by Terry Butcher. Then kicked out of Celtic. I think this guy is going to have a life of regret, real shame.

Anonymous said...

Possibly joining my club now, Argyle. Interesting....looks like he has been rather a tosser to date.

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