THE CURIOUS CASE OF KEVIN WRIGHT

Fredrikstad have been extremely active in the transfer market this pre-season and have completed some of the most exciting deals out of all the other OBOS Ligaen clubs.

(Photo: Digitalsport)

One of the sides’ early signings who now seems to be down in the pecking order is Kevin Wright. The left back had been with Chelsea since he was a young boy but made the move to Carlisle in League 2 in early December when his contract was terminated.

After just 2 first team appearances for the side, Wright was on the move again and this time to Norway. Things were looking good as the club he had signed for, Fredrikstad, seemed to be very pleased with their new acquisition from England. FFK had reportedly beat a number of clubs to the players’ signature and the move seemed a good deal for all parties with Fredrikstad getting a former Chelsea youth team player and Wright getting first team opportunities with one of Norway’s biggest sides.

Things have quickly turned sour though. Wright played 45 minutes in Fredrikstad’s first pre-season friendly against Skeid and looked extremely off the pace. Wright was given a tough time from the Skeid players for 45 minutes and by all accounts struggled to adapt to the tempo of the game.

A slightly better but still below par 45 minutes against Ull/Kisa in a 3-2 win a couple of weeks later and Wright has seemingly been pushed into 3rd choice at left back. In a 4-4-2 formation, as new coach Loberto lined up with in Fredrikstad’s early friendlies, Wright was almost a certainty in the lineup as he played Left Back with Ludvig Begby playing slightly further forward in a Left Midfield position.

However, Loberto has since tested a 3-5-2 formation which would mean that only one of Wright or Begby could make the first XI. With Begby’s new contract and growing importance to the side, he was guaranteed a place ahead of Wright. To rub salt into Wright’s wounds, former Stromsgodset and Manchester City left back Razak Nuhu signed for the side after trials with Kristiansund and Valerenga.

Ludvig Begby, seen here in action against Sandnes, is clearly ahead of Kevin Wright in the FFK pecking order.

This now means that in a 3-5-2 Wright would be 3rd or 4th choice behind Begby, Nuhu and Kaland. A 4-4-2 formation would give more opportunities for Wright to nail down a first team spot but he would still have two or three players ahead of him in the pecking order. Andrea Loberto and assistant Olsen have questioned Wright’s defensive capabilities and it is thought that this is the reason he is now being omitted from the team.

This only goes to beg the question; where did it all go wrong for Wright since joining the club?

Fredrikstad’s record in the transfer market in recent seasons speaks for itself with a lot more failed signings than successful ones. It would be expected that Fredrikstad did their homework on Wright, a player potentially lacking in confidence a little having left Carlisle with his tail between his legs due to the fact he got very little game time with the team. Did Fredrikstad really think that two 45 minute appearances in early pre-season was enough to judge the player on or has Wright simply been under performing in training?

Wright had trained with the side prior to his move and must have impressed the coaches enough for them to immediately sign him on to a contract. For the player to then fall behind right sided midfielder Mats Andre Kaland in the fight for a spot at left back or left midfield after just a few weeks must show that something has gone seriously wrong behind the scenes. If it is true that Wright’s defensive capabilities is the main issue, then why was this not picked up when Fredrikstad were scouting and analyzing the player prior to his move.

It is of course still pre-season and so the coach may simply be experimenting with new players and new formations. Reading too much into Wright’s exclusion from the starting XI right now may be premature but Fredrikstad’s signing of Razak Nuhu at least puts big question marks over both the ability of Kevin Wright and whether Fredrikstad actually did their homework when scouting and recruiting the Englishman.

Wright has played just 50 pre-season minutes in Fredrikstad’s 6 matches since the loss to Ull/Kisa. It will be tough for the left back to now establish himself in the Fredrikstad team ahead of the likes of Begby, Nuhu and Kaland but the situation once again just goes to highlight the failings in Fredrikstad’s recruitment strategy. The club have not learnt from previous mistakes and now seem to have an unwanted player on their books for the coming season.

After the fiasco of last season when players were signed and sold at the drop of a hat, one would think Fredrikstad had learnt from these mistakes but the fact the side will now be paying a significant amount of money to Kevin Wright for the player to be 3rd or 4th choice in the side it is clear the club have not learnt from last seasons’ failings.