Cups, Culls and, erm…

First things first….

AFC WIMBLEDON
LONDON SENIOR CUP WINNERS 2013/14

Nuff sed.

The youngsters did pretty well last night at Imber Court (even if the Met could have had a penalty in the last minute), and for once these sort of fixtures did what we should be doing.

Whether they will make the step up to the first team will remain to be seen. But we have signed four youngsters on pro-deals, and apparently they get to play with the first team during training. Which, by the sound of it, toughens them up…

This was one of those games where although it didn’t really matter, to win the first LSC trophy in the AFCW era (and the first overall since 1977) is pretty good. Especially coming off how the season ended…

And as these players still have yet to wipe behind their ears, there are now some squad vacancies.

Yep, it’s the now traditional end-of-season cull again. May to AFCW players is like November to the deer in Richmond Park – somebody is coming for you with a shotgun, and you will probably end up with a bullet in your head.

You know the drill about how this is done on SW19 by now, so without any further ado…

Seb Brown – struggled in the dying days of the TB regime, was quickly moved out of the spotlight by NA (after the York FAC game), and was pretty much gone by that stage.

Unfortunately for him, the blunder against Coventry in the FAC pretty much killed his career with us, and this day was always going to be inevitable. Which is a shame, as he will forever be remembered for Eastlands – and him as an AFCW fan to boot.

He’s still quite young, and could still forge a career in the Conference or below. But he’s recently got married to a Yank, his mum’s very ill apparently, he’s a bright lad and he may decide to start using his brain…

Will Antwi – a classic “traditional” tough centre back, as in build like a brick shithouse and able to literally stand up to similar brutes. But as a defender, he was pretty shit.

A reminder of what our defence used to look like, and for that alone his release is welcome.

Peter Sweeney – I’ll leave it to others who have watched games this season just gone to comment on him. Reportedly a high earner.

Charlie Strutton – surprised because he’s still not back from injury. Not surprised because he was never a League Two striker except against York City. When he was considered somebody who needed a lot of work when he signed up last season, and he was put on loan at Braintree then almost as quickly at Aldershot, he was always a bit on borrowed time.

Luke Moore – our (former) longest serving player, and somebody who presumably was kept on because he fitted the ethos of our manager – namely keep in a system, follow instructions, that type of thing.

When he was with us, he was somebody always “around” without managing to be as high profile as some other players. Rumours that Margate are going to splash the cash for him will no doubt escalate…

Rhys Weston – came as a useful no-risk signing, unfortunately made one very crucial mistake and was never seen again. Guess he was a risk after all.

Callum Kennedy – see Peter Sweeney.

Jack Midson – and the most controversial one saved until last. Yet oddly the least surprising of the lot. I expect we’ll never properly know why things have ended like that have on this day, but like Seb Brown going – this was always going to be inevitable.

The legend of THAT penalty against Fleetwood, or THAT goal at the Frenzydome will always live in everyone’s memory. And he was the best striker at the club last campaign, so why is he now looking for a new club?

Well, we might have got some idea of NA’s thinking in this interview. Basically, he thinks he can get better for the money that he paid Midson. Now, what he means by “better” we don’t know, but we know that he’d stated in the past that he would rather get a striker on-loan as they’re better quality and less of a drain on the wage bill.

Needless to say, as I write this there is some serious teeth gnashing about his departure. Certainly as angst-ridden as the release of Rob Ursell was, and something that won’t die down anytime soon. And yes, it’s a big judgement call by NA – and one he has to get very right this close season.

But think about this for a moment – if he was so prolific, why did no bids come in for him during the time he was here?

Christian Jolley and Banjo “Byron” Harrison managed to get fees, and I have no doubt if somebody came up with the dough we would have snapped their hand off.

And as a fanbase, we do have a tendency to over-state the real worth of our players.

I will now post what SW19 wrote after Southend United away, April 9 2012. Under Terry Brown, and when Midson was at his peak for us. The bid mentioned never materialised, by the way:

There was no Jack Midson. At least, not starting. Maybe the rumours about him going to Swindon (or Colchester) for £250k are true after all. He came on for Prior and we managed to look even less effective as a result.

 

So, should we play him if his mind is clearly elsewhere? Or if he and our manager really aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye now? We could still do with his goals, but if he’s on his way out we could do without him being injured. It would undeniably be a shame for his time with us to go out in such a way, but it’s nothing you weren’t used to in the WFC era.

Not seeing eye-to-eye? Shame for his time with us to go out in such a way? I could have written this last week, let alone two years ago. And under the previous boss, too.

Couple this with the way he left Oxford and Chris Wilder under a cloud too, and you have to wonder if Midson is entirely the innocent party today.  Of course, another question arises here – if he was so prolific why did he join a newly promoted club paying even less in wages than it is now?

NA said that he didn’t have an issue with JM, and I do believe him, because we’ve known in the past that if you go out on loan at AFCW you’re pretty much done.

Midson could have gone out on loan, but he didn’t. Indeed, we could (and should) have paired him more often with Wyke, and not get in Hylton. But then, when he was paired with a better striker than him (Smith, and to an extent Alexander) he wasn’t nearly so effective.

He was the best striker from January onwards, but he was the best of a pretty poor bunch. The forward lines needs an overhaul, and if getting shot of Midson allows us to do that properly, so be it.
To be honest, I don’t think there is actually anything sinister about his departure – even if he had an exceptional season, I think he was about to come to the end of his time anyway.

Players don’t remain at their peak for too long, and even when he was given a run of games so many demanded, he always looked a bit on the decline during his best spells.

And players do move on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him join one of the promoted teams, although equally I can see him at a Conference side (he has more and more sidelines, as he knows his career isn’t going to peak much longer). And as the bit that I quoted from two years above said, it’s nothing we didn’t experience in WFC times…

It won’t sooth the mood of many fans right now though, and our manager is getting some immense stick over it. Was this brave by Ardley? Yes. Is this unpopular by Ardley? Absolutely. But wrong? Perhaps not…

Anyway, what’s happened has happened, and there’s no point in looking back. We’re still waiting for Sheringham to get back, and for Jake “three point deduction” Nicholson to get better, and chances are the cull will continue.

We have offered deals to some others, although I can’t help denying I could do without seeing Sammy Moore doing his sideways passing again next season. The defence is more or less intact, and we don’t have to do a massive rebuild on that score. What is notable is that with the exception of Sideways Sammy, all of the TB era players are now gone.

And with the obvious exception, none will be particularly missed.NA has been ruthless, though it doesn’t seem like a massive cull in comparison to previous years (although the numbers will probably end up being similar). Probably because we know that some of them were on their way out as far back as November.

I expect there are some high earners, not just Midson, on that list, and perhaps the intention is to sign fewer players but on higher wages and of better quality? Especially if the youngsters can make that step up to the first team next season.

Whatever happens, it’s a serious statement of intent by NA. He knows he has to move things forward, and he’s already made people sit up and take notice. Obviously, he now has to replace those he’s got rid of, and there will be the usual to-ing and fro-ing before the cheesy grin photographs on the OS.

Of course, there may be budget issues when the cleaning bill for the amount of blood spilt today comes in…

7 thoughts on “Cups, Culls and, erm…

  1. First things first, I went to Imber Court last night and the youngsters (especially the goalscorers) were excellent. Hope to see some of them next season.
    Secondly I went to the sponsors dinner last week and found that Midson above everyone didn’t want to be there, to be honest he was pretty rude. The others i spoke to (Jones, Frampton, Bennett, Brown, Ardley) were lovely. I could understand based on that alone why Ardley might want shot of Midson.

  2. To be honest, if we miss these players it will be in the sense of ‘remember when so and so played with us’ rather than ‘gee, I wish so and so was in the team this week’.

  3. Rob, I feel you alluded to the main reason for Midson’s departure and that is outside interests.

    He sells potions and people are aware of two other team members, who have become involved with him. That is probably seen as a distraction.

    He also runs tennis coaching during the summer months, and suspect it is pretty lucrative sideline. Again a distraction.

    There is one reason, why some players, get to the highest level and others do not.

    Focus.

    Any distraction impacts upon their form at the football club providing the contract.

    Antwi, also has outside interests, although I would have retained him for the occasional hard nut opponent.

    Weston and Strutton injured, and Kennedy too. Luke Moore has appeared out of sorts recently.

    All in all none of those released including Brown has been a surprise.

    The challenge facing Neal, Neil and Bass is creating a squad, they want to work with, and who wish to represent AFC Wimbledon.

    The new players coming in will be intriguing and no doubt the rumour mill will be rife with speculation.

  4. Don’t know what it is, but I have a bad feeling about this, just like Terry Brown and May 2012. I hope we don’t have a poor pre-season and a bad start to next season.

    1. There are some differences between May-Sept 2014 and May-Sept 2012:

      – NA seems more aware that next season is make-or-break than TB did (I still believe the story that our former manager genuinely believed he had until Xmas the game before he was sacked)

      – We have kept the bulk of a defence that was, for the most part, pretty solid throughout the season.

      – The performances may not have been great, but between Newport away (Feb) to Plymouth (April) we only lost twice. So we did become hard(er) to beat.

      – The club itself, while certainly not perfect, is a bit more clued up about what it expects these days.

      Of course, it can go wrong during the summer, but that applies to every club in L2. Ask Brizzle Rovers or Northampton fans.

  5. Sweeney – always looked overweight and unfit to me. Nice touch but too slow to make anything happen.

    Kennedy – unlucky I think, if he could’ve stayed fit he may have stayed

    Is Charlie Sheringham the only striker at the club now then? Better sort that out sharpish!

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