More pointless changes

It’s Sunday and real life is threatening to get in the way of stuff, but for those who need a fix we are able to provide it in the form of another brief look at players changing numbers needlessly.

Defining a change as pointless isn’t an exact science, it’s something you have look at on a case-by-case basis. Darren Anderton switching from 9 to 7 for Tottenham in 1999, for example, is allowable as 7 is the number most associated with his position and it was part of a wider cleaning-up operation. Wayne Rooney going from 8 to 10 when Ruud van Nistelrooy left Manchester United is also more than acceptable.

Then, there are the headscratchers. In 1995-96, Bruce Rioch took over as Arsenal manager and the numbers were shaken up. We can just about get over Paul Merson giving up 10 for 9 to accommodate new signing Dennis Bergkamp, who made it clear that he wanted that number (changes of this nature will feature in another post, incidentally. There are quite a few examples!). Chris Kiwomya and Glenn Helder signed midway through 1994-95 and were given 31 and 32 respectively, so moving them them to 20 and 11 was fine too.

What we couldn’t fathom then, and still can’t now, was the pinball initiated by Eddie McGoldrick’s move from 11 to let Helder take it. The Irish international took 21, which Steve Morrow vacated and moved to 18. That meant David Hillier having to switch to 17 and the previous 17, John Jensen, was now 19. Unsurprisingly, Rioch didn’t last beyond that season.

A few years later, there were funny goings-on at Southampton. Upon the inception of squad numbers in 1993, Ken Monkou was given number 6 and retained it for four seasons. Then, in 1997, Claus Lundekvam signed for the Saints and he was assigned 6 with Monkou now number 5. Maybe the Norwegian had an affinity to 6, you might think, but oh no – after just one season the players swapped and Monkow regained 6 for his final season, 1998-99. Lundekvam remained as number 5 until his departure in 2005.

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