More tales of woe in the transfer tales series, this time from the City Ground. DAVID MARPLES remembers Stan Collymore’s successor at Forest.
It’s the summer of 1995 – oversized garish football shirts, curtain haircut city, Pulp going big time with ‘Common People’ – and Nottingham Forest are on a high. After their first season back in the Premier League, the club is sitting back and smoking a big one after an excellent 3rd place finish while Blackburn Rovers snaffled the title. Although Stan Collymore has departed to Liverpool, the club has 8.5 big ones burning a hole in its pocket. Sure, losing Stan is a bit of a blow – he blew Manchester United away in both fixtures – but he had a date with a gaggle of Spice Boys and by the end, he was shrugging off any attempts to congratulate him after he’d once again barnstormed through a bank of defenders and walloped the ball into the
So, what to do with the wonga? The dear, delightful, kind gent Frank Clark decides that it’s about time the Premier League had an Italian gracing its existence and he knows of just the guy – he’s played with Diego Maradona at Napoli and also spearheaded a potent attack at Torino, scoring 17 goals alongside Enzo Francescoli and Benito Carbone. Decent. So, £1.8million is placed on a table and Andrea Silenzi walks through the doors.
It’s a wonder he doesn’t trip on the doormat, knock his conk on a table and end up with his trousers around his ankles. Such a scene would have been more becoming of the man’s performances in the red jersey.
It would be nice to report that he tried, that he hustled and chased down and ultimately, just needed a little bit of luck, you know, one of those where he just needs one to go in off his backside. But no – he just ambled, moseyed, sauntered and sashayed around a bit, generally getting in the ruddy way.
It is telling that this is the season in which Jason Lee made his entrance, and you know what? He didn’t do that bad either with eight goals in 28 games. Youngsters Bobby Howe and Paul McGregor were also called up to partner Bryan Roy up top, knocking Silenzi down the pecking order, resulting in him making a paltry 12 league appearances, scoring a bit fat zilch in the goals scored column. Eventually, he was packed off to Venezia on loan, never to darken the club’s doors again.
He probably wasn’t the worst player ever to stride around the City Ground pitch – there’s a strong field of competitors out there for that accolade – but his lethargic style didn’t endear him to many. No, what really did for Silenzi was the timing of the whole thing – context is everything; big money on a big player with big pedigree joining a club riding the crest of wave boasting a solid defence and a creative midfield. All that was required was someone to get on the end of the limitless supply of Steve Stone or Ian Woan crosses or latch on to one of countless killer through balls from Lars Bohinen. Christ, even Jason Lee managed to do this eight times. As one player from the 1995-96 squad confided, ‘for a bloke who partnered Maradona, he had a shocking first touch.’
Despite a creditable 9th in the Premier League and a thrilling run to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup, the club would fail to kick on from here and eventually sank back down into the mire that is the Championship and for a while, League 1.
No, of course this wasn’t Silenzi’s fault. But he was one heck of an exciting signing at the peak of scintillating times. Ultimately though, the contents of a handkerchief after a powerful sneeze has contributed more to the cause of the football club than Andrea Silenzi.