Position: Right winger / striker
From: Birmingham City - £150,000 - September 2003
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Mister Angry
Paul Devlin arrived from Birmingham City early in the 2003/04 season, effectively to fill the role that had been earmarked for the unfortunate Jimmy Davis. His recruitment came as something of a surprise... we had already added to our squad to a greater degree than originally intended by taking the opportunity to sign Danny Webber from Manchester United. At best, most hoped that another loan signing would be employed to give the squad attacking options on the right side of midfield.
Instead we had signed a player who, if not an established Premiership star, was certainly a good Division One player of some pedigree. And for a six-figure transfer fee no less, for which and for Devlin's wages we owe a debt of thanks to a mystery benefactor.
Whilst fans scratched their heads and contemplated who might possibly have the motivation and resources to make such a generous gesture, Devlin moved into the right-hand side of midfield, brusquely stripped the wallpaper and set up home. He didn't spend the entire season there... adopting a twisting-and-turning central role in the middle of an attacking three for a time. But wherever, his experience, aggression, and tricksiness was employed to the irritation of opponents who regularly paid the compliment of double-marking him.
It's not been a complete breeze, mind. One suspects that a long contract might have less readily been offered to a thirty-one year-old winger had the money been coming out of club finances, and certainly the effectiveness of his performances waned somewhat as the season lengthened. Additionally, there is the occasionally aggravating insistence on beating his man several times before putting a ball in... and three goals from forty-odd starts isn't a great return.
But these are quibbles. In Devlin we have a clever and experienced player, an addition to the squad that we had no right to expect, and who has made the 2003/04 season at least a deal more pleasurable and diverting than it might otherwise have been. Did I mention that he's rather committed too? Not the player to misplace or mistime a pass to, one suspects, nor a player that many referees look forward to officiating.
There's more to come from Paul Devlin. But what we've seen so far has been rather good. So thank you, mystery benefactor, whoever you are.
Last updated: May 2004