Yesterday brought the announcement of our second signing of the summer, Shaun Hutchinson. Signed on a free transfer from West London club Fulham, the 25-year old penned a two year contract with The Lions, having the additional option of a third year should all parties be happy.
Having made 42 appearances in all competitions during two seasons at Craven Cottage, Hutchinson arrives at Millwall with experience in a higher division, with the aim now to become a key part of our side here at The Den. First impressions are similar to that of the signing of David Worrall; we haven’t seen or heard much of Hutchinson during his career, however he is clearly another player who Harris and the club have kept a close eye on during his time south of the border at Fulham.
“We monitored him last season knowing that he was coming out of contract. He is a no-nonsense defender who likes to head it in both boxes and is very aggressive in his approach. Shaun adds competition to a very solid backline. He is a real winner with a lot to prove.”
A description which immediately wins over a Millwall fan, with Mark Beevers leaving it was important for the club to act quickly and sign a player in the mould of Beevers after making clear his intention to leave. It sounds like Harris and the club made their mind up a lot earlier in the season, and to action the plan and get their number one target is surely a big boost for both the club and the player.
A handful in both boxes, hopefully we can see Hutchinson step up and contribute with goals, similar to the impact Beevers had last season. During his spell with Fulham Hutchinson contributed two goals in his two season stay. To match this, Hutchinson also had two sending offs during his stint in West London, something I hope won’t be a common trend.
Despite making 42 appearances for Fulham, Hutchinson found himself on the fringes last season with only 11 appearances in the senior side in all competitions. While this is an obvious negative, Hutchinson clearly turns up at the club with a point to prove, and I’m sure he’ll be doing his best to make sure Fulham are aware of the mistake they could make in letting the defender leave. Again, similar to David Worrall the defender is at an age where he is ready for an impact in the team, but also still have room to develop and make a name for himself.
Below, is a showcase video of what Millwall fans can expect of our latest signing:
Having gone through a lot of clips it’s hard to argue with Harris’ assessment, Hutchinson seems to be your no nonsense central defender and at this level it’s certainly what is required. I included a couple of times where Hutchinson was able to play out from the back, throughout last season this was also another deliberate style of play from our side, and I’m sure Harris was aware of this when originally considering a move for the defender. Style of pass is important, at times last season we were aimlessly punting the ball to Morison up front, however with a better passer of the ball at the back we could make the most of these opportunities.
With Hutchinson signing he joins a side with already three other senior central defenders; Tony Craig, Byron Webster and Sid Nelson. Competition for places in the side is sure to heat up with Hutchinson having to earn his place in front of club captain Craig and also one of our own in Nelson. I think it’s safe to assume Webster will be first choice out of the four, despite starting last season poorly Webster was probably our best player towards the end of the season, and was a massive miss on that day at Wembley in May.
What does this do to our own crop of young players, I personally would like to see players like Nelson and Christian Mbulu offered the chance to claim a place in the team, however don’t see this chance being offered with Hutchinson signing. As I’ve felt for a while with Nelson, both him and Mbulu would probably benefit with a season away from the club playing every week in a lower division. We saw the confidence this brought Fred Onyedinma when with Wycombe, and I also feel both defenders would benefit from a similar experience. At times last season Nelson would be thrown into the side when Beevers or Webster were unavailable, and in turn might not put in the greatest of performances and on their return the experienced duo would be restored in the side. I personally believe this hampers the development of Nelson, and looking into the coming season he will probably play a bit part role once again.
We’re lucky this summer that the squad doesn’t need an overhaul, the message is very much no players are for sell despite the rumoured interests. Harris has also been quoted to be very keen to complete all additions by the first day of pre-season on the 1st of July. If this is the case I expect one more addition to be made by then, and hopefully we have a squad capable of pushing on next season.
What do you think of our latest signing?