RR: Greg Docherty, then. What’s your reaction to the news he’s potentially about to sign on loan for Sunderland from Glasgow Rangers?
JB: This is an ideal move for Greg and one that should see him thrive. Games have been near impossible for him to come by, that that’s not been Doc’s fault, as he’s had two of the club’s best performers ahead of him.
B&A: I’m gutted really, and it shows the gap between us and the bigger clubs in the league. He’s loved here, the club have tried to keep him and his family sweet and he’s still not coming back. He’s a great player at this level, and really should be in the Championship. He could be the player to drive you back into the mix.
RR: What sort of player is he? What could he bring to our team?
JB: He’s a very energetic midfielder who sometimes goes under the radar in terms of what he actually brings to the team. Docherty isn’t the sort who is going to beat five men then fire home from 25 yards, but he’ll provide an excellent link from midfield to attack.
B&A: He’s a powerful box to box midfielder. Dynamic, with a great passing range and when he gets in full flight, he’s hard to stop. He’s a leader, and was player of the season for us last year by some margin. He can also can score great goals. If your fans want a taste, check out his goal vs Wolves in the FA Cup last season, and the one he scored away at Salford in the cup too. Both were bangers.
RR: What would you say his strengths and weaknesses are as a player?
B&A: Strength is his main strength. He can hold onto it and run through players. Weaknesses... there’re really not that many at this level. Beyond League One some might question his positioning. He has no injury record to speak of. He’s just really solid.
JB: In terms of strengths and weaknesses, his strengths are obvious. He’ll almost immediately become the hardest working player in the squad and cover huge amounts of ground to help his team-mates out. Docherty is a fantastic athlete and brings with it a really good understanding of the game. Despite his relatively young age, he’s well-experienced at first-team level after breaking into the side at Hamilton in his teens, and is a very mature player. His main weakness is his lack of goals, although he did add a decent number at Shrewsbury. Others will need to step up in front of goal but Docherty will still pop up with the odd goal or two - but, he should make an excellent signing for Sunderland.
RR: To Blue & Amber Fanzine - were you disappointed that Docherty didn’t re-sign this season, or were you kinda expecting it?
B&A: In the summer I wasn’t surprised. He wanted to have a crack at getting a game for his beloved Rangers. He’s had a crack at that, but it’s not happening. As January rolled around we as fans thought there might be a chance, as the club were on to him and his people. But, fundementally he’s probably better than us now, and so it was a long shot. It’s a real shame. Not even a Liverpool fixture seems to have turned his head.
RR: To James - why has he struggled to make his way into the Rangers team?
JB: Ryan Jack is the short answer. Jacko has been incredible under Steven Gerrard and the midfield trio of Jack, Steven Davis and Glen Kamara are a big reason for Rangers’ success this season.
RR: What do the fans at Shrewsbury think of him?
B&A: As I’ve alluded to, he’s highly rated and one we were desperate to get back and fire up our midfield. We had a lot of chants for him, and he even had his own small fan base from Rangers, who would come down to games and get involved with our fans. He really spoke well at the end of season awards about the club and the season. He is definitely one of the best loan players we have had in last ten years, for sure.
RR: And the fans at Rangers - what do they think of him?
JB: Rangers fans like Docherty and many wanted him to be given a chance under Gerrard - especially after impressing last season at Shrewsbury. Most realise now that it’s just never likely to happen for him at Rangers now, and everything at the club has moved up a level since he was signed by interim boss Graeme Murty.
RR: He really excelled last season at Shrewsbury and proved himself as a valuable player in their team. Do you see a future for Docherty at Rangers if he’s successful at Sunderland?
JB: No. Doc’s time at Ibrox looks to be up regardless of what he does at Sunderland. Jack and Kamara are fixtures in midfield, Joe Aribo is starting to find his feet, Scott Arfield is biding his time on the bench and then there’s a host of really promising youngsters coming through the Academy. Docherty will find it incredibly hard to break into the first-team at Ibrox now, and this move is more about giving him a platform to go and earn a move somewhere, rather than trying to force his way into Gerrard’s plans.
RR: What would you say to any Sunderland supporters who aren’t sure about us signing Docherty?
JB: Knowing the league after his time in Shropshire should help Doc hit the ground running at Sunderland. Docherty is going to add some real energy to the Black Cats’ midfield and is a really shrewd signing by Phil Parkinson.
B&A: Get over it - you’re signing a proven League One player, which is where you are right now, and if you want to progress getting lads in who know the league, know where the net is and have a lot of talent to uncork going forward seems the way forward!
I would also once again say to them thanks Donald Love. He’s been excellent!