Often Partisan

A New Deal for Diop?

Lee Clark will have to make the decision over the next few days about whether or not to extend the contract of former Fulham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop. The 34-year-old Senegalese midfielder signed a one month contract with Blues on October 19 and has yet to make an appearance for Blues although he has been an unused substitute.

I will admit that I was slightly mystified that we’d signed the man nicknamed “the Wardrobe” on a short-term deal. Central midfield isn’t exactly a position that Blues are short in and whilst Diop offers something slightly different as an “enforcer” it did seem strange that Clark had allocated some of his meagre resources in signing his former team-mate. It seems stranger considering that Blues have a Senegalese “enforcer” type already (although not quite as big) in Morgaro Gomis but it appears that the former Dundee United man isn’t rated by Clark.

I’ve seen Diop play for the reserves twice now and whilst he looked massively out of match fitness the first time he definitely looks closer to being up to speed now. It’s always interesting watching older players playing in the reserves because it can show a lot about their attitude. I’ve seen some fringe and returning first-team players look positively languid when turning out for reserve sides, using the game as little more than a kickabout to get their fitness up; whereas others seem to relish the chance to prove themselves and to help school the younger players into becoming better players. I’m pleased to say Diop seems to fit into the second category – whilst he looked unfit in his first reserve game there was no doubting his effort which again showed up yesterday as he broke forwards a few times to support attacks and generally made himself useful in the middle.

Papa also offers some versatility; as well as playing in central midfield he can slot in at centre-half – a position where Blues don’t have so much cover. Like Guirane N’Daw last season he seems a good player to have around in that if you need a hulking man mountain to take a player out of the game Diop could well do that job for you; I imagine as a centre-half he wouldn’t offer much in terms of pace but his strength and tackling would probably be a benefit.

However, for me none of this is reason enough for Blues to extend his deal. Yes, he can “do a job” but I suspect if offered the chance Will Packwood would come in and do his best to “do a job”. If we were absolutely desperate in the centre of midfield we have two youngsters in the Academy who could potentially step up as cover on the bench in Brice Ntambwe and Eddy Gnahore. It almost seems to me that the signing of a player like Diop is holding back those players as it’s blocking a route into the first team AND it’s using up a space in the ressies where players like Ntambwe could be honing their craft.

If Blues were blessed with cash to spare then I could understand that Diop would be a useful squad player to have around “just in case”. The dichotomy is though that if Blues had cash to spare they wouldn’t be looking at Diop – they’d be looking at younger, better players. The feeling I get from talking to people around the club is that Blues will be extending Diop’s deal but I remain to be convinced that of the logic in that at this moment in time.

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10 Responses to “A New Deal for Diop?”

  • Big Al says:

    Like it or not, we are in relegation battle. Any Manager who can feel the axe digging into their neck will not throw youngsters into battle. That leaves the out of form Mullins and the out of favour (and injured?) Gomez as our midfield enforcers. I’d give Diop another month.

    • Ainsley says:

      We are far from a relegation battle. A good few results in a row and we’ll be up near the play-offs. We’re 7 points off the play off’s with 2/3 of the season to go

    • Blue in Spain says:

      We are as near to the play offs as we are to the relegation places. As for Mullins being out of form, I actually think in the last month, he has found some form.

  • BobbyBlue says:

    Ive seen LC say how great it is to have Papa round the training ground and in the dressing room after games. However, that doesn’t justify spending our limited resources on a player who plays in a position we are well stocked with players.

    Personally, I’d be happy for him to train with us, build his fitness up but only commit to paying him cash when he looks capable of making a playing difference to the first XI.

  • andy says:

    I dont see a problem if Blues offer the wardrobe a pay as u play deal, that would make better sense and im sure he would be up to standard in games to earn his money. We all have to accept that eventually the squad will be stripped bare and rebuilt once new owners eventually come in, so whoever comes in short term, it will be what it is, short term, until new owners arrive.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      I am in full agreement with both yourself, [ Paid-as you-play ], and also Almajir’s thoughts of why do we need him, ?.

      Ibanez, is now back, Robinson is versatile, Packwood and Dearman, are also both available in centre defence, !!.

      Whatever the problem with Gomis, he usually played well in the past, — So one assumes L,C. has a problem with him personally as he seemed to with Fahey, ??.

  • Ryan says:

    I think whatever wage he is on should be added to the kitty with what % we paid Lita, for somebody that can make a real difference.

  • Blue in Spain says:

    I think it would be good to keep him until at least January. However I think it’s more important that we get Robinson signed up until the end of the season!

  • Grizzly says:

    Whilst what you say about Diop blocking Gnahore and Ntambwe to the first team/ taking their spot on the reserve team is true, the flip side of that argument is that having a player with the experience of Diop around will be a great influence for both of them, and they can learn a lot from him on the training ground.

  • Evesham Blue says:

    No point signing him if he is not going to play but…. Question is – is he about ready fitness wise to make a difference now? We have paid him whilst he is getting up to fitness. So there seems no point letting him go just when we have got him up to speed.

    It is month by month contract after all. Surely we are not so skint that we cant pay a wage for a month? If not I would be very worried.

    Anyway we have freed up some money with Lita. Perhaps to sign Castelen ?

    Papa is probably mates with LC so I doubt he will let him go until he has let him have a go at least.

    We are light weight in midfield. He gives us another option as we dont have that type of midfielder. You need that type in the championship. Gomis is clearly not rated by LC. Dont know why.

    I’m just forgetting takeover talk persoanlly. I am not entirely convinced even if it will happen. We have to deal with the assumption things will stay as they are for the foreseeable future so free transfer and loans are the only options.


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