24 June 2010

Remember him?

While other ex-Charlton players have been lighting up our screens at the World Cup (Dennis Rommedahl, Jermaine - spit - Defoe) a vaguely familiar name turned up on the Come Dine With Me wags special. Simon Walton, of Crewe Alexandra. Remember him?

If the name was vaguely familiar, the face certainly wasn't. And here's why. In July 2006 Charlton bought him, an 18 year old, for £500,000 from Leeds, and instantly sent him out on loan to get him match experience and develop his talent. A year later he was sold to QPR for £200,000, never having played a competitive game for Charlton. Meanwhile, Charlton had changed manager twice, from Dowie via Les Reed to Alan Pardew. And had dropped out of the Premier League.

It may not have been the worst bit of business Charlton ever did, but it looks like a microcosm of those desperate times. The turnover of players was bewildering, with the only constant factor being a failure to live up to any expectations.

As for Simon Walton, his career's hardly lived up to the promise. He must have a decent agent, because Plymouth Argyle paid a club record £750,000 for him, but again he was sent out on loan to Blackpool, and then Crewe.

And you could see his career as a microcosm of what's wrong with English football. Despite being at best deeply average, he's being paid enough to keep a page 3 stunner (Nicola Tappenden) in the style to which she'd like to become accustomed. It's been suggested that the players in the England team have an inflated sense of their entitlement, and maybe his career shows how that happens.

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