Tom Reed reflects on the departure of Van Veen from the Cobblers…
“Uninterested”, “complacent”, “we are a better team without him in the side”, “If anyone is daft enough to pay money for him we should snatch their hands off and get a proper striker in pronto”.
Not comments made about departing forward Kevin Van Veen, who rejoined Scunthorpe United yesterday but about Ivan Toney when Newcastle United began to show an interest… sadly strikingly similar.
Toney of course is now banging them in for local rivals Peterborough United and racking up the millions in valuations whilst Van Veen has been decried as a “show pony” and a “fraud” by some Town fans online despite signing for a team in a higher division.
The pattern is similar, Northampton Town sell a clearly talented player but the Cobblers have somehow got one over on the buying club, sold them a pup even though the transfer fee received is inevitably a fraction of their actual worth. Toney’s fee to Newcastle was, surprise surprise undisclosed but reported by the Mirror to be a mere £250k. The Posh’s 600k investment in Eastfield raised Toney will no doubt increase by a few zeros if his two hat-tricks in three weeks in blue and white are anything to go by,
Ten goals, funnily enough “complacent” Toney’s goal tally before heading to St James’ Park and also the number Van Veen had notched before Christmas at Sixfields despite a difficult start to the season for the claret and whites. Score that number at Glanford Park and 27 year-old Van Veen, approaching his prime will become a significant asset for Scunny. BBC Look North journalist Mike White, tweeted that he had been told that Scunthorpe “hadn’t paid more than the fee he was sold for last Jan, believed to be in the region of 100k”.
The worst thing about the Van Veen sale is not losing a technically gifted player but that Northampton never really got the best out of him. Like virtually all Cobblers players worth their salt, the relationship is stuttered, fractured, resentful even.
Van Veen’s 20 goal target for Cobblers this season would have been perfectly straight forward but for managerial and tactical changes that would have an impact on any player’s form. Van Veen signed for Northampton Town under the ownership of Chinese firm 5USports and the management of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. It’s doubtful that a relegation battle to non-league and 5 at the back would have been part of the sales pitch,
Whatever happens the football club has not come out well from this. At best they signed a player that is considered by many to have never really wanted to have joined the Town in the first place. A player that was, by his own accounts, commuting two and a half hours to the club every day.
Of course some Northampton fans, as passionate as they are downtrodden will react to Van Veen’s departure with a shrug, as if getting rid of good footballers is perversely something to celebrate. It makes them feel better and fair enough for that.
But let’s not pretend that losing Van Veen, a player with superlative first touch and finishing for this level is good for the basic footballing premise of Northampton Town FC. Rather a weight off the wage bill for a team clanging back to its level in the bottom reaches of league 2.
Kevin Van Veen, too good for the Cobblers, probably not as good as he thinks but too much to a handle for a club with decades old recruitment issues and and one that has become suspicious of success.