JOHN McGINLAY: Marvin is still an unknown quantity

IT’S a mystery to me why we haven’t seen more of Marvin Sordell since he signed from Watford on transfer deadline day.

I’m sure Owen signed him with one eye on the future but we parted with more than £3million, so I’m puzzled as to why he hasn’t been used more regularly than he has.

The Fulham game looked to be set up perfectly. We were out of it, struggling to get going, but instead we chucked a bit more experience on in Ivan Klasnic and his chance was gone.

It’s too early to say we’ve wasted money on him because let’s face it, he’s 21 and has a lot more football in front of him. But you do wonder whether we were rushed into the buy on January 31 for some reason.

Sometimes players come along at what you feel is a reasonable price and you are forced into action. Other clubs were involved at the time and maybe Owen thought if he didn’t act, he would miss out.

Whether he’s the answer to our prayers is a different matter. Like most Wanderers fans, all I have seen of him was a few England Under-21 games and the odd appearance on the television for Watford. It’s hard to pick out players like that unless they have an absolute barnstormer – so he’s still an unknown quantity for me.

Whether he remains that way in the next six games might depend on how results go, and how we do against Swansea. With a bit of daylight between us and the bottom three, Owen might be more inclined to play him for 10-15 minutes.

Why didn’t someone just tackle Ben Arfa

PUNDITS have been foaming at the mouth in praise of Hatem Ben Arfa’s winner at St James’ Park, but I find it difficult to get too excited.

Fair play to the lad for his cool finish but for every step he got closer to our penalty box, I was screaming louder for someone to kick him up in the air and take one for the team.

It would have been a good foul to give away, and Mark Davies is the only one who got near. David Wheater and Tim Ream seemed to part and let him through, so defensively I thought we could have done a lot more.

Tactically, I think we got it spot on at Newcastle. We frustrated them, then came out for the second half and really gave it a go.

Once again, though, the finishing has cost us. We had three great chances and you can’t afford to pass them up.

Alonso must make sure he recovers from Duff-ing up

MARCOS Alonso got run ragged by Damien Duff against Fulham, but he shouldn’t get too down.

He looked a bit rusty against Wolves a week earlier, and it’s tough to come back from long-term injury and get straight back into your stride.

The important thing for Marcos is that Owen put his faith in him right away when Gretar Steinsson got injured before the Molineux game. He obviously rates him.

So he’ll go away, lick his wounds, and make sure he’s fitter and sharper for the next time an opportunity becomes available.

Dubai could help Whites deal with heat of battle

GOING to Dubai after two defeats might stick in the throat of some Wanderers fans – but I think it could prove a masterstroke.

A bit of rest and relaxation will just help take off some of the pressure that had been building. Also, the weather over there makes it so much easier to train.

When you are standing at a freezing cold Euxton, it’s a lot harder to stop a training session and let the players know in detail what you want. It’s cold and you run a lot more chance of injury.

With a bit of sun on their backs, the lads might just get a chance to sort out some of the finer points, meaning they are better prepared for the Swansea game than they might have been slogging up and down in the rain here.

Mancini walking a tightrope clowning around with Balotelli

THERE are many different levels of the “Nutcase Scale” but after his red card against Arsenal the other day, Mario Balotelli has gone right off the chart.

There are difficult players you can manage, those who even mature in time, but then there are those like the Manchester City striker who must be an absolute nightmare, to say the very least.

Clown, idiot, brilliant – you can use all three words in a sentence involving Balotelli but I can’t see him lasting at the Etihad much longer.

If Roberto Mancini manages to hold on to his job this summer, and that’s a big if, then I think he knows he has to get rid of his fellow Italian if he has any designs on winning the league.

You look at some of the other so-called trouble makers down the years, Eric Cantona for example, and there were times when you just didn’t know what they were going to do.

The difference with Cantona, though, was that once he got that experience of being at a big club in Manchester United, he developed a bit more responsibility – and that’s exactly what Balotelli is lacking.

Manchester City should have been walking the league title this season and when you consider where they were four or five weeks ago, it’s still hard to fathom why they haven’t.

As Manicni said himself, he needs 11 players out there on the pitch. You watch Balotelli arguing with senior players over who is going to take a free kick and think ‘is he really worth all the trouble?’ Managers spend all weeks sorting out things like set pieces, so why is it that players like him see fit to wade over with their clown shoes and try to mess it all up just for the sake of their own ego?

Don’t get me wrong, Balotelli can be brilliant on his day. He has all the tools and if Mancini goes there may be another manager out there who thinks he can come in and change him for the better. Who knows?

He’s the kind of player you would pay to see – but judging by his behaviour you might have to seek out a big top with a tightrope if you want to see him again next season.

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