Totolly Gobsmacked


As Jimmy Greaves once said 'Football is a funny old game.' In fact it is a bloody funny old game. Prior to the January transfer window everyone was expecting that one or both of Pools' star assets, namely Nathan Thomas and Trevor Carson, would be on the move once the last chimes from the great bell of Big Ben had rung in the new year. Bong ...sorry, I meant wrong. 

Who would have thought that Toto Nsiala would have been the first player out the door and moving up a league (well, for half a season) and Pools would actually be getting a fee for him. I for one was totally gobsmacked.

There was a rumour doing the rounds on the terraces during the Morecambe match that he was off to Shrewsbury for £25k and that Carson was staying. My mate said he would even drive Nsiala to the New Meadow ground if it meant clinching the deal. The rest of us said it had to be a rumour as what club would pay £25k for him. One wag suggested that we should pay £25k to Shrewsbury to take him off our hands.

Gary Coxall has stated that £25k was not the fee. If it was twenty five quid Shrewsbury have been taken to the cleaners. If nothing else this piece of business has rid us of the worst centre half Pools have had since Tommy Sword. When Pools signed Nsiala the Grimsby message boards pre-warned us what and what not to expect from him. In one breath they said he could look class one minute then he could look like the class clown the next. From what they were saying Toto seemed to be the Chris Smalling of non-league football. Then again I put this down to sour grapes by the Cod Army, as Pools had also snaffled their leading goalscorer Padraig Amond to boot.
"Who can forget his deliberate 'hand of God' handball against Newport County...?"

When I saw Toto take to the pitch for the first time in a Pools shirt he looked a big unit, something that is essential at this level of football. He also seemed comfortable on the ball and looked fairly mobile. His best attribute to my mind was blocking a ball and putting his body on the line.

Initially I put the basic errors that he was making down to adjusting to the pace of League Two football. As the season wore on these basic errors multiplied in proportion and became massive grade one mistakes of the highest order. Who can forget his deliberate 'hand of God' handball against Newport County, his subsequent sending off and the resulting penalty being converted, all in the first four minutes of the game?

The majority of Pools fans including myself, despite his mistakes, wanted him to succeed and do well as there was a footballer in there somewhere but as the season progressed he became more and more error-prone and a liability to the team. It would make interesting statistical reading to see how many goals Pools conceded that were down to him (20% plus?), and how many penalties and needless free kicks that he gave away. He probably has more bookings to his credit than the rest of the back four put together. How many games did he miss through suspension and being dropped?

Gary Coxall was quoted as saying that Nsiala did not want to play for the club and the Mail went even further by questioning his professionalism regarding his attitude on and off the pitch, and that several of his team mates would not be sorry to see him leave the club. The fact that Pools are getting a fee for him (sorry, but I can't stop laughing about that), and it gets him off the wage bill, in turn freeing up the budget to either bring in a loan player or two, or at the very worst keeps the Inland Revenue at bay for a few weeks, has got to be a plus.

I am very surprised that Hignett and Fleming did not do their homework on Nsiala well before they signed him. It will be interesting to see how he performs with Shrewsbury this season but based on his current form they may be relegated sooner than they planned. I think Nsiala will be back at the Vic sooner than he (or we) thinks, but thankfully he will not be wearing the blue and white of Hartlepool United. I would like to wish the lad luck but I regret that I am unable to do so.