The inevitable departure of Stuart Beavon to League 1 side Preston North End left the club with just three recognised strikers in Richard Logan (mixed goalscoring record, to put it mildly), Dennis Oli (not a natural finisher and out for a number of weeks with ligament damage) and Matt McClure (young and hungry but entirely unproven at Football League level) and a problem up front which simply needs sorting out, and fast.
Wycombe’s first 4 games this season have yielded just 4 points but as a potential future prognosis for the season ahead, what is in some ways even more worrying is the meagre tally of just 8 shots on target, and 13 off target for these matches. To put it into perspective, Brentford managed more than that in just one game, last Thursday’s trip to Leyton Orient. Ironically enough, the west Londoners somehow managed to lose the match 1-0, but the shooting stats help enlighten fans of Wycombe’s concerning position.
So, step forward 2 players with much to prove. Both born in the same London Borough of Enfield. One a 30 year old Ghanaian forward who’s career has somewhat stalled in the past couple of years, not helped by a series of injuries. The other is a 28 year old striker cum winger. He’s failed to fulfil his undoubted potential thus far and is at a rather large crossroads in his footballing journey. Fail to take this latest opportunity, and he could be left wondering where the next Football League chance will come from. Yes, step forward Jo Kuffour and Dean Morgan, the former signed on a 2 year deal, the latter contracted until January. Both given the task of re-energising the Wycombe attack by boss Gary Waddock, who is looking to emerge unscathed from a sticky patch of his own with fans on the terraces less than enamoured with the style of football and results at Adams Park.
Kuffour will be a well known name to fans of the lower leagues, but things haven’t gone to plan for the former Arsenal trainee recently, with 27 league starts in just over a year a disappointing return from a player also dogged by injuries. But, the diminutive forward has showed his potential in years previous, including a stunning hat trick at Adams Park for Bristol Rovers in a JPT game in 2010. Kuffour’s goals showed the mark of a clinical finisher that Wycombe sorely need after Beavon’s departure, with a headed effort, powerful shot, and no nonsense conversion of a cross demonstrating a clear ability to score a range of goals.
For Wycombe, anyone with a goalscoring instinct will do. Such an instinct arguably cannot be taught, and Kuffour on his day is perhaps one of the most natural finishers in the division. Having left Arsenal Kuffour enjoyed a 3 and a half year spell at Torquay, before moving to London and Brentford. In a difficult season for the club in which the Bees were relegated, Kuffour still managed to find the net 12 times in 38 league outings before chalking up the same tally the following season at AFC Bournemouth. A far more prolonged period at Bristol Rovers followed, before he was loaned out to Gillingham in September 2011. There Kuffour began very brightly indeed, with 7 goals in 11 starts. He then completed a permanent move and struggled from then on, with 2 goals in 18 league appearances seeing him deemed surplus to requirements by Gills new boss Martin Allen. He finds himself at Wycombe rather fortunate to be handed a 2 year contract and with work to do if he’s to recapture the form shown in his halcyon days. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Morgan meanwhile, will need to hit the ground running. Waddock has astutely given the player into January to prove his worth making it a little to no risk gamble financially for Wycombe, and Morgan has already spoken of his desire to reward his new employers. Despite being blessed with pace and skill, genuine highlights have thus far been all to few and far between for a man who has plied his trade at 11 previous clubs. And he’s only 28. Rumours persist of a potential attitude problem and a less than impressive work rate, so to an extent Morgan is aiming to defy his critics as he seeks to settle in Buckinghamshire and at the same time, avoid being labelled the new Jefferson Louis. After starting his career at Colchester and then Reading, Morgan fell out of favour at Luton Town in 2007, and thereafter had a series of loan spells at the likes of Leyton Orient and Southend, before a free transfer to Milton Keynes in September 2009. One league start and one league goal followed before a permanent move up north to Chesterfield in August of the next year.
This saw the start of arguably Morgan’s most successful spell as a footballer since his early days at Luton, and he helped the side to the League 2 Championship in 2011. The following campaign was an almighty struggle for the spireites however, and despite 2 goals in the 3-2 defeat at Adams Park (the second expertly taken) Morgan was released at the end of the season after a loan move to Oxford. Finally settling down at a club could be critical for a player who despite talk of untapped potential, knows that time could be running out on a Football League career unless the breakthrough is made soon. There’s goals in this player but not without the required application, something that Waddock will no doubt be keen to stress to his newest acquisition.
With the days of Beavon (and indeed players of a similar ilk) in a Wanderers’ shirt gone for the foreseeable future, Waddock has looked to the freebie market in a bid to unearth a couple of potential gems. In Kuffour and Morgan, it’s possible that a stirring League 2 goalscoring partnership could be on the horizon. If both players commit fully to the cause, regain the necessary level of match fitness, and gel fairly quickly, they could surprise quite a few people. If not, then in the words of U2, Gary Waddock will be left knowing that “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Saturday’s match at Chesterfield could be the perfect time for Waddock, Kuffour and Morgan (up against his former club) to start proving the doubters wrong.
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