By Jason McKeown
David Syers has this afternoon joined League One Doncaster Rovers on a free transfer. That’s right, the out of contract player who we were apparently offering a low wage to stay, and who was apparently no longer desperately needed, has signed for a club in a league above.
Syers enjoyed a superb first season for the Bantams after being signed by Peter Taylor in the summer of 2010, but despite an outstanding start to last year – he was star player in the first two matches – a bad injury against Leeds ruled him out until Christmas, and he never got going again. Syers’ first start back ended in a controversial sending off against Shrewsbury on New Years Eve, and although he returned to action strongly, most notably from the bench against Hereford in February, he spent the majority of the final weeks of the season on the bench.
Phil Parkinson did have strong options in the centre, and the partnership of Ritchie Jones and Ricky Ravenhill has deservedly established themselves first choice, but there is something hugely despairing about us letting Syers leave without putting up much of a fight to keep him. He was such a promising player, adding energy, thrust and workrate in the centre which made a big impact. He had some weaknesses to his game for sure, but the opportunity to develop Syers into an all round midfielder, even in a Stuart McCall mode, was there to take. Instead, we’ve let him go.
It follows a familiar pattern. A player breaks onto the scene, starts well but then reaches a crossroads. The club has a track record of failing to get such players onto the next stage, and in the end they leave with time and coaching investment somewhat wasted. Syers should have been a mainstay at Valley Parade for a number of years and, if and when he moved on, it would be for better things – with City duly compensated.
Joining Doncaster in League One is clearly better things, but City receive no reward and now have a hole in the squad to fill. Syers might have been back up going into next season, but his goalscoring ability would have made him a strong contender to break into the side and make a positive difference.
As Luke Lockwood wrote on this site a month ago in an outstanding piece about Syers: “Should we lose Syers, then I believe it will be another indication of the short-term approach that the club appear to be taking at the moment. As a young player, with his best years ahead of him, even if Syers was to spend next season as a bit part player the investment in his development would be worthwhile.”
One would like to believe the club did all they could to keep Syers, but the evidence suggests anything but.
I, and no doubt many others, am absolutely gutted.