CALEB FOLAN JOINS FOR A MILLION
Finally, we paid a million pounds for a player. And frankly, it was the first time our finances could really justify it. Adam Pearson’s support for Peter Taylor in the market was unflinching, but never could either chairman or manager have been able, even after elevation to the Championship, to apply reason to shelling out seven-figures on one player, especially as Taylor preferred to recruit from below.
So, long after Taylor and Pearson had gone, it was Phil Brown who selected the player, using Paul Duffen’s endorsement and Russell Bartlett’s resources, who would create City spending history. Caleb Folan had been deeply lacking in distinction during a brief loan spell years earlier during his kindergarten days with Leeds, but on August 31st, as the window was being pulled to, Brown offered a cheque to Wigan Athletic, whom City had dumped out of the League Cup, complete with Folan, days earlier, and they accepted.
Folan’s first act was to have his skull dented by a wayward Blackpool forehead on his debut, but once he returned he proved an agile, able and awkward character who diminished initial doubts about his finishing (first goal wasn’t until December) by scoring crucially at Stoke, West Brom and in the play-offs against Watford, along with some invaluable strikes as a sub when Fraizer Campbell and Dean Windass were on form as the starting pair.
He subsequently scored the goal that earned our first ever Premier League win, although injuries and an obvious inability to step up a level (or run around, or control a ball or – most memorably – stay onside) made him peripheral and frustrating thereafter as relegation was fought against, and though he started the first four games of the second Premier League season, it was obvious that he wasn’t cut out for the job on any level, and was soon packed off on loan to Middlesbrough via a few disparaging words in Brown’s direction. Despite this, and irrespective of where he or the Tigers ended up, his contribution to promotion made the historic investment in his services prove more than shrewd.