Crawley Town have re-signed striker Matt Tubbs on a one-month loan from Bournemouth.
Goals have been a problem for the mid-table side, with just twenty-five so far this season – only four teams in League One have scored less.
They have a very obvious problem in terms of strikers. Last season’s loanees, Paul Hayes and Aiden O’Brien, returned to their parent clubs. Emile Sinclair’s form has been unspectacular since he joined from Peterborough, while Billy Clarke does not tend to play as an advanced forward.
However, the signing came in rather unorthodox circumstances. Chairman Dave Pottinger made the unusual move of asking Crawley fans, via his Twitter account, who they would like the club to bring in. Tubbs, who enjoyed a two-year stint with the Reds from 2010 to 2012, was the name which kept surfacing.
Pottinger has said: “I was absolutely delighted to help give the fans what they wanted – although I must stress this is a football decision made by John Gregory and his management team.”
The 29-year-old featured 79 times for Crawley initially, scoring 58 goals. This is made particularly impressive by the fact that most of these appearances were as a substitute – he had been dubbed ‘Super-sub Tubbs’ by a newspaper. While his finishing ability in the box could be useful, it remains to be seen whether he will have the work rate to lead the line up front for 90 minutes.
It is understandable that some will appreciate the connection Pottinger is trying to make with the fans, who are the backbone of any club in the lower leagues. Supporters put their time and money into following their club and deserve to feel valued – we do not see enough of that in modern football.
Yet it is a step too far to let them get involved with footballing matters. A chairman asking fans for inspiration on who they should sign implies a lack of knowledge, trust and professionalism within the club. If a chairman believes that supporters will have a better idea of who Crawley should be signing than the manager, then it does not necessarily breed confidence. Fans might fondly remember certain players who were good for the team in the past and have since left, but that is the only thing they will contribute. They will not be able to look at the wider picture.
Indeed, in Tubbs’ case, he has only scored a total of eight goals since he left for Bournemouth exactly two years ago. Crawley fans are unlikely to consider that. They will remember the man who scored 40 goals in one season which got them promotion to League Two. To sign him, partly to curry favour from the fans, seems a little bit craven from Pottinger. Surely a qualified manager, who has a career in football spanning over 40 years, with a wealth of experience, contacts and tactical knowledge, will have a better idea of what is best for the club than a group of fans?
John Gregory is the manager of Crawley Town Football Club, and should have been trusted entirely with regard to transfer targets.