Opinion: Kane continues to divide opinion among United fans

Tony Kane is sent off  during Ballymena United's weekend defeat by Linfield. Picture: Pacemaker Press.
Tony Kane is sent off during Ballymena United's weekend defeat by Linfield. Picture: Pacemaker Press.

Sometimes in football you can see things coming from a mile off.

From the moment immediately after last Tuesday night’s win over Carrick Rangers that I Tweeted news of Tony Kane’s contract extension at Ballymena United, it prompted a social media debate that raged for most of the rest of the week.

It will probably come as a shock to the modest, unassuming Kane that he is one of the players who attracts the greatest conflict of views among United fans.

It’s a level of critique that you would more commonly expect to surround a club’s star player or top goalscorer, rather than someone who alternates between right-back and a defensive midfield role.

Scour any internet forum on Irish League football and you will find as many Ballymena fans lauding the former Blackburn apprentice for his passionate, all-action displays and his set-piece prowess as those berating him for what they perceive as an impetuous streak and wayward passing.

All of which made manager Glenn Ferguson’s decision to award the player a new two-year deal all the more interesting for Ballymena fans, anxious to know in which direction the club will move on the back on the latest Shield success.

Plenty of eyes were going to be on Kane at the weekend, so you can imagine the reaction when the player was dismissed for two bookings in Ballymena’s 4-0 drubbing by Linfield.

Having been booked early on and with slippery underfoot conditions forcing defenders to be extra careful with every challenge, an early bath was always on the cards - no pun intended.

It came less than a fortnight after Kane had a hand in all three United goals in the Shield final victory - a clear indiciation of how you sometimes have to take the rough with the smooth, the good with the bad when it comes to players.

Kane fits into a category of players, along with the likes of Gavin Taggart and Gary Thompson, who don’t catch the eye as much as natural matchwinners like David Cushley and Allan Jenkins, but their best work often isn’t seen by supporters.

You need a core of those type of players in and around a squad, players who know their role and carry it out on a consistent basis and you can understand why Ferguson would be keen to tie down players of that type.

With the County Antrim Shield secured and most likely limited movement around Ballymena’s league position in the remainder of the campaign, you can understand why Ferguson already has one eye on next season and who he wants on board with him.

The big issue, as always is where the manager is going to find the quality of new players he needs to improve his side.