Five asides: Loans system; rolling subs; League gap closing; Tough Championship; Chris Whelpdale

 

1: Loans system is not ideal, but it does serve a purpose

One of the side effects of the big clubs' stockpiling of talent is that the majority of their youth academy graduates cannot get a game. Thus the January scramble to acquire the brightest and best on loan. Managers like Brendan Rodgers, Neil Warnock and Mick McCarthy are hoping to replicate the success Bolton had with Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge, and Rodgers himself did with Fabio Borini and Scott Sinclair (now signed permanently). For their part the players are hoping to advance their careers as Wilshere and Sturridge did. In an ideal world the loan system would not be necessary, as it does create some iniquities and tends to favour the better connected managers, but rather this than seeing the likes of Josh McEachran rotting in the reserves.

2 Penalty specialist Watson poses a rolling question

Roberto Martinez's decision to bring on Ben Watson to take Wigan's late penalty at Stoke was a bold move, and a thought-provoking one. At junior levels of the game there are rolling substitutes; what's to stop a team having a specialist who comes on to take a set play, then goes off again? Or a tall lad, good at heading but not much else, who comes on for corners? In hockey, GB's Calum Giles used to come on for short corners, then go off. The rules were changed to stop him.

3 Gap closing between the Premier and Championship

The year ends with none of the promoted clubs in the Premier League's bottom three, none of the relegated clubs in the Championship's automatic promotion places and only one in the play-off zone. I hope and believe this reflects a stronger Championship rather than a weaker Premier League.

4 West Ham and Leeds find how tough a league it is

That the Championship is an extremely competitive division was underlined by Saturday's results, notably West Ham's loss at Derby and Leeds' 4-1 defeat at Barnsley. The latter is the type of result which gets managers the sack but I hope Ken Bates shows patience with Simon Grayson.

5 Ballsy Whelpdale shows real commitment

If ever a man had an excuse to skip a couple of matches and enjoy New Year's Eve it was Gillingham's Chris Whelpdale. Instead, four days after needing five stitches in his scrotum after a tackle on his tackle at Crawley Town on Boxing Day, he was back in action. Protected by a jockstrap and "lots of padding", Whelpdale played the whole 90 minutes of Gills' 2-1 defeat at Dagenham on Friday. Good luck to him today against Aldershot.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor