For a player who spent just 288 minutes on the pitch this season, Andre Green sparked a great deal of debate when he bid farewell to Preston North End this week.
The winger’s loan stay at Deepdale won’t go down as one of football’s success stories, with him making six appearances in five months on loan from Aston Villa.
Back he went to Villa on Thursday and was then loaned straight out to Charlton Athletic and another tilt at Championship football.
Those six games in a PNE shirt included only two starts, both in the League Cup against Bradford City and Hull City – his one goal came at Valley Parade.
Green’s runs as a sub came in varying lengths.
He got 64 minutes at Swansea in August as a first-half replacement for the stricken Louis Moult.
Against Nottingham Forest at the end of August he got six minutes, while in October’s 1-1 draw with Leeds he came on in the 89th minute.
His non-use since then hadn’t gone unnoticed by the PNE faithful, hence plenty of chat about him when his loan was ended prematurely.
Some of that was probably borne out of frustration of the two home defeats to Reading and Middlesbrough this week when North End toiled against two organised defences.
I’ve no idea if Green would have made a difference in either of those games and we will never know.
But by then the plans were in place to cut short his loan and fix him up with a new temporary home.
I honest think this was one of those moves which simply didn’t work out. No conspiracy theories, no fall-outs, just that Green didn’t fit into Preston’s way and PNE didn’t suit his game.
No disgrace – not all moves turn out to be bargain of the decade.
Players have come and gone before and a couple spring to mind at Deepdale.
David Moyes signed Stephen Robinson from Bournemouth in the summer of 2000 in the wake of Preston’s promotion from the Second Division
Robinson, now the manager of Motherwell, rarely got a look-in despite decent money being spent.
Brian Stock springs to mind when Billy Davies was Lilywhites manager.
One minute we were applauding a fine debut hours after he had tucked into a pre-match lunch in Sainsbury’s cafe. The next we were playing hide and seek with the midfielder as he disappeared from view.
It might be that loans don’t suit Green. He spent the first half of last season with Portsmouth in League One and didn’t set the world alight on the South Coast.
Back he went to parent club Villa in the Championship and played 17 times in their march to the Premier League through the play-offs.
Green certainly looked worth the punt in August when North End took him on loan. Aged 21, with games in the Championship under his belt and a promotion on his CV – what was there not to like?
Alex Neil likes his forward players to be flexible and did speak of Green being able to play on both wings and also down the middle.
When replacing Moult at Swansea, he played centrally rather than out wide.
Neil spoke at Thursday’s press conference about Green wanting to play closer to the touchline on the left wing.
On that side he prefers his wide players to tuck inside more and allow the left-back to play on the outside.
Early in his loan spell at North End, Green said: “I’m a left winger but did play on the right quite a lot last season.
“I can play up front but I prefer being on the left.
“There are times I like to cut inside on to my right foot but my biggest strength is getting down the line and sending over crosses.”
So maybe Preston and Green just weren’t that compatible.
He seemed a very decent bloke in the couple of times the local media spoke to him and I hope the move to Charlton gets him going again.
We could well see him back here in a fortnight’s time when the Addicks visit Deepdale.
Green’s departure came in the days leading up to North End’s FA Cup clash with Norwich City in which a number of players from the squad are set to be given a chance to catch the eye.
While normally I frown on multiple changes for cup matches – especially the FA Cup – it might just be the right time for fresh legs and fresh minds.
The zip looked to have gone out of the side in the Reading and Middlesbrough games, maybe mentally more than physically.
We saw the same things being tried over and over again, the numerous crosses put in against Boro meat and drink to their centre-halves.
If the changes made are wholesale ones, many of those who will play won’t exactly be coming out of the cold.
One who might be. though, is Tom Bayliss who has yet to see Championship action since his big-money move from Coventry in the summer.
Of those around the fringes of the squad, the young midfielder is probably the one most Preston fans would like to have a look at.
Just on the subject of the FA Cup, I find it somewhat strange that VAR will be used in some games and not others.
Games at Premier League grounds will have it in use but not elsewhere.
If PNE’s tie with Norwich goes to a replay, you would have the scenario of no VAR in the first game at Deepdale but it would be used at Carrow Road.
Can that be right? We are told the FA Cup is a great leveller but effectively you have different rules for different games.
Personally I’d like to see VAR turned off in the cup to give us all a welcome break from armpits, fingernails and big toes being forensically used to make offside decisions.