The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Looking for a card that is so high and wild that we'll never need to play another

27 April 2017

Russell Slade, it must be admitted, is beginning to win Middle-Aged Diary around. It is a long time since I saw a performance as enjoyable as the win against Yeovil. The players looked like they were enjoying it as well.

Class is not only permanent: it is also eternal. Let's hope it's not so, but if that proves to have been one of Craig Disley's last performances in a Town shirt, it was one to treasure for years – decades – to come, conspicuous in its inconspicuous effectiveness.

Slade has the reassuring characteristic that when he talks about a game, the game he was watching is recognisably the same one you were watching. He is also, we don't doubt, an effective organiser of a football team; Scott Vernon testifies as much in today's Telegraph. He is a man for the here and now, a 180-degree turn from Marcus Bignot who, his eyes on some far horizon, kept falling down potholes.

When Slade left in 2006, he did not leave us very much, and certainly not laughter. To describe the progress of young players into his first team as 'glacial' would be a disservice to glaciers, some of which can get up to a nippy one metre an hour. Without entirely turning himself into Bignot minus the bizarre permutations, it would be good to feel Slade will have an eye to the long-term sustainability of the club.

As this year's list of nominees for young player of the year makes clear, we are starting from a low base. Scunthorpe's Dom Vose is only 23, apparently; perhaps he spent five of those years working in a pit, or perhaps it was a scam to get him into some long-forgotten under-age tournament. QPR's Brandon Comley, Everton's Calum Dyson and Luke Maxwell of Birmingham at least look young.

Don't want to vote for the young prospect of another club? Then you are left with outward loans: Grantham's Harry Clifton and Max Wright, and Josh Venney of Sutton Coldfield. Dan Jones returned from Fylde and was the victim of one of Bignot's pothole moments against Doncaster.

None of this is Slade's fault – the limited opportunities for Town's own young players has been an issue for years – and it was heartening that he gave some of these players a run-out in the friendly against Barnsley. But for now, my vote for young player of the year goes to Craig Disley.