Tom Jenkins gives his view on the Gary Madine situation…
Here we go again! On yet another occasion we are forced to discuss an issue that has nothing to do with football but still taints this club`s already spoiled reputation. We have had players in the past who have had form for poor off-field behaviour (El-Hadji Diouf, I`m looking at you) but these players have gotten away with such problems because of their talent and good performances. Now that Gary Madine has, yet again, done something stupid that has made headlines, does he really deserve another chance or do his poor performances make him exempt from forgiveness? Although many will disagree, I think it is the former.
Madine hasn`t endeared himself to the fans with his performances this season, often appearing lazy and missing loads of chances week in week out. He`s 6`3 yet is too easily bullied by centre-halves who can only dream of matching him physically. It`s a lack of desire that causes them to come out on top. However, he remains our top scorer this season with 6 goals and the alternative to him up front is Emile Heskey. In a bad situation, playing him is the best option.
The misdemeanours of his past would also lead to the conclusion that he should be frozen out of the first team. He has been in prison and is lucky he can continue his career. Yes, it was hilarious when we all saw him bad mouthing Neil Lennon on TV against Brentford but it still was a prime example of Gary not being A: The sharpest knife in the drawer and B: respectful of a man who has given him a big break and has, to all intents and purposes, supported him in his time at Bolton. Our role as fans isn`t to worry hugely about this sort of stuff as long as he performs in matches and, at times, he has shown he has his uses. Like I said before, we aren`t in a position to sign someone better (or anyone for that matter) so he has to be given the nod if available.
Thus far, it appears the only thing keeping Madine in the team is the lack of other options. This is true to an extent, but like I say he does have uses that are invaluable to any Championship side. He is a target for hopeful punts, he can distract defenders from more skilful players and, on occasion, will score a goal. I 100% believe he will end this season on 10 goals at least and would do so every year if given games to do so. This doesn`t seem like a lot, but when we have the luxury of other players who can score themselves, e.g. Clough, Clayton and Feeney, then this total is just what is required. After all, Kevin Davies` record was similar to that ratio if not poorer and he is a club legend.
The crux of this argument is whether we think Madine has enough use as a player that we can tolerate these outbursts. He strikes me (from the interviews he has done this year) as someone honest, self-deprecating and down to earth. These aren`t the qualities an El-Hadji Diouf-esque character tends to have, thus I think there is hope for him at age 25. While his ability remains locked away, he will come under criticism from the terraces and his manager. But maybe, if both show him a little faith, we can unearth someone worthy of forgiveness who can do well for this club.