Graham Alexander admits Stephen Dobbie’s loan spell at Fleetwood Town didn’t come close to matching his hopes.
Former Blackpool star Dobbie was one of the fanfare signing of last summer, joining on a season-long deal from Crystal Palace.
But the forward failed to make the impact hoped at Highbury, bagging just four goals for Alexander’s men over the course of the campaign.
Such a return hardly justified the significant chunk of the club’s wage budget taken up by Dobbie’s loan.
The forward often found himself used in an unfamiliar lone-striker role, in which he never looked comfortable.
And Town’s manager believes the chemistry between player and club wasn’t right.
He said: “I think even Dobbs himself would admit it’s not quite worked out as we hoped.
“It’s a shame because he’s a talented footballer. We brought him here for good reason and he came to us for the right reasons.
“But sometimes this can happen in football – the chemistry isn’t right or whatever. It can define the rest of the season.
“It’s a shame because I can see the talent he has got, but it just hasn’t worked for us this season.”
Dobbie, 32, has returned to Palace at the end of his loan and is unlikely to return to Town next season, with the club focused on developing young talent – a necessary course with their wage budget affected by financial fair play restrictions.
But Alexander inists Dobbie did play his part in Fleetwood’s top-10 finish in their debut League One campaign. In the early stages of the season, he did have a knack of scoring at crucial times – never more so than in Town’s dramatic comeback against Bristol City at Highbury, earning a point against the eventual champions.
Alexander said: “I’m a little bit loath to talk about individuals over the course of the season because everyone has had their high points and their low points. Everyone has contributed.
“Dobbs has definitely contributed, without a doubt, to our total points tally and to what we’ve done.
“Just because we had certain aspirations and vision as to what his loan could have turned out like, I won’t say he hasn’t contributed to what we’ve achieved this season.
“There are so many aspects which make things work or not work, and this one’s just not happened for us or for the player.”
Dobbie is not the only loan player to have departed Highbury.
Josh Morris, who scored in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Port Vale, is back with Blackburn Rovers.
His wages are a likely barrier to further extending his 15-month Highbury stay.
And left-back Adam Chicksen has returned to Brighton, having not travelled with Fleetwood to the Potteries at the weekend.
Town have a significant list of first-team players out of contract, their fates to be decided in the coming days.