So it seems as though we are entering the endgame of the Alex Smithies to QPR transfer saga.
If I take it from a personal point of view, I should be sorry to see Alex go. I’m a distant supporter now, and Alex is one of few links to the team I knew when I knew them well. To lose that link would be a shame.
I think he is a fine goalkeeper, too. His reflexes and shot stopping can be outstanding, and when playing behind a stable defence, he is able to command a high line, and can be an effective sweeper/keeper in that situation.
He has his issues, though I’ve never seen his aerial ability or vocalisation to team mates being a problem other than isolated incidents (he is a human, humans make mistakes), I’ve sometimes questioned whether the speed of his distribution, which is a definite asset, is at the cost of quality of distribution, which can be lacking.
Early Smithies was able to trigger attacks with quick throws or long kicks into space. Through time, this seems to happen less, which has taken a string away from his, and Huddersfield’s bow.
The fee being quoted is around £1.75m; a replacement of similar ability might cost a little less than that, though Smithies represents a little more than simply a goalkeeper.
For a club who are placing emphasis on the pathways from youth team to first team, he has been a beacon; showing that there is a way through and, even if young players struggle at first, there is an allowance to come back stronger and better. He has made the first team shirt his own on merit, and has been one of few automatic selections for a few managers in a row now.
This cannot be underestimated. Huddersfield Town are in a constant state of flux; the buying and selling nature of the team is testament to this. There are few players with local connections and fewer still who have been with the club as long as Alex Smithies. One cannot pre-arrange or prioritise on what the Italians call a bandiera (a flag; a better description, as Ciro Scognamiglio has posited previously, is a lighthouse), but they should be cherished whene’er they can.
It is worth noting that he also played a fundamental part, perhaps THE fundamental part, in the club’s victory at Wembley, which is one of the most important of recent years.
So, for all that, a fee of £1.75m would bring some relief to the finances of the club (as I recall, the academy costs £0.5m/y to run), there is a part of that thinks that the fee isn’t large enough to wrench a figure as important to the club, as well as the team, from situ.
Of course, money talks, and if Alex (who reportedly has a young child to think of; its always when players are rumoured to be moving that their family crops us) wants to boost his pockets, QPR look well able to do that and, in Robert Green, have a keeper who should be well able to help him negotiate what could be an important stage of his career.
In short, my heart thinks he should stay, but my head thinks he will go. I’ve been around football long enough to trust my head.