I don’t talk about the good bits of our side on here, Fox aside naturally, but I guess the clue is in the title that that was never the point. But we’ll break form now that someone’s remembered Zak is out of contract in the summer.
He doesn’t have too much to worry about, he’s going nowhere. Do feel free to bring this up if he does leave, but all signs would suggest he’s here for a while yet. The biggest, neons-included sign is how quick Lambert is to turn to him once he’s nearing fitness. It helps that Zak repays his manager’s faith with outstanding performances, too.
He’s our most all-round centre-back, as comfortable with the ball on the floor as he is with it in the air. He can saunter out from the back, he doesn’t do it as purposefully as Ward but he does it comfortably enough. Likewise, he can and will compete in the air with the best of them.
Every centre-back makes mistakes and unfortunately for defenders they’re second only to goalkeepers for suffering the consequences so it’s unfair to pinpoint rare errors. Zak reads the game well- better than our others- so they don’t happen often, he makes vital blocks as regularly as anyone and isn’t averse to putting his head in where it could get hurt. In the long run he will also be good for Bennett.
With Bennett’s arrival, we seem to have secured ourselves some good centre-backs for the foreseeable future at least. Zak and Ward aren’t anywhere near the brow of the hill and Bennett and Ayala have only recently left base camp. It’s all looking rather rosy.
Also, Barnett appears to be unfancied by Lambert and could well be searching for pastures new, especially with Russell Martin seemingly ahead of him in the queue. With departing it’s unlikely there’ll be more.
Fox can hardly do anymore to warrant a new contract, after having his doubters he’s swung them round into alignment. I still haven’t quite fathomed how you could fail to rate the man, but at least the rest have got there in the end.
There must be question marks over the other out-of-contract-ers though. Wilbraham is doing as much as he can, Drury is well, Drury. Elliott Ward appears to be nestled with Zak in Lambert’s good books (he’s in mine too, if you care) and Declan Rudd has been unfortunate with his injury coming at a time when he was due some exposure. It was just as unfortunate that Steer made his mark felt but I’d expect him to stay for another year at least though.
The one thing that is for sure, I wouldn’t like to be the one making these decisions.