Bloody hell, I’ve forgotten just how dull the close season can be. Sundays are always the worst for some reason – there’s no footy on Sky (although the u21 tournaments take the edge off the boredom) and everyone else seems to be out and about enjoying themselves and having fun.
So, to stop this particular Sunday turning into a mutant mix of watching paint dry, the Test Card and a typical rugby union game, an update for you.
As you probably know, Paul Lorraine has gone on a full time deal to Woking. Sadly, we don’t get any money for him but it does show people that they can come to AFCW and move on. Annoying for us, maybe, but at this level don’t expect big money moves. Also itching to make a full-time living is RDS. Now, while losing him will be a blow and a half, we do still have RB, Richard Jolly, the recently resigned Fergie, Shroot and Goddard up front. Oh, and some bloke called Marcus Gayle, though I expect nobody knows much about him.
RDS will be a loss, although questions do remain whether he’s fit enough to carry it out full time. What this does show is a new direction for AFCW. True, in the past we’ve lost players. But back in ye CCL days, and even up until last season, players moved on because they’d moved jobs, or started college courses, or occasionally even signed for another club. Now, we’re losing players for what I’d describe as footballing reasons.
Until AFCW themselves become full time, we will have to accept that as soon as a player gets good enough he’ll move on to full time. In the CCL/R1, nobody looked at our players because the level was too low. Now, we get scouts from Conference sides and the gap ain’t so big that our players get ignored….
Is losing both PL and (probably) RDS critical? Maybe, but it’s something we’ll now have to adapt to. We’ll certainly need to develop a way where we don’t rely on players becoming available elsewhere. If we lose an RDS in future, we’ll need to look at our reserves, pick out a Goddard and say to him, “here’s your chance, now take it”.
And if we do that, it’s a small but highly significant step forward. If you read my last update, you’ll see I make great play about our reserve and youth setups. It does seem that TB has a huge regard for the youth, and apparently Hayes under him had the best youth policy going.
When you think about it, it’s absolutely crazy for anyone to ignore the AFCW youth setup. If you go on the OS and look at how many courses we do, the potential is staggering. I know that plenty of people send their kids onto the matchday academies, and let’s face it – if your kid enjoys football and is good enough at it, there’s the advanced course.
Put it this way – how kewl would it be to see the offspring of an SW19 reader start on a holiday course, become good enough to go on the advanced and work his way up to the bench of the first team – and beyond? I think we could be getting to that stage within the next five years. Hell, I might even sponsor their kit.
Granted, we didn’t see too much of the reserves linking up with the first team under DA. Whether that was by design, whether the youth/reserve setup wasn’t quite established enough, whether DA simply didn’t have enough time to oversee it I don’t know, but it did seem like an opportunity missed. Especially as we were bringing in Brentford triallists instead.
All this might explain why we have quite a small squad even now. While I expect one or two more comings/goings, I don’t expect much more in the way of wholesale changes before the season starts. It does appear to me that TB wants a small tightly knit squad that knows what it’s doing before adding more. If Richard Jolly gets injured, we put in Steve Goddard as a direct, painless replacement. That sort of thing.
And it will be something to get used to again, especially after the churning of the last couple of years. Have you looked at the squad recently and had a cold sweat at how small it is? If truth be told, there probably isn’t much to worry about.
Incidentally, I’m sure I read that we’ll be training three times a week instead of two. If true, that’s another radical step forward. It was the case last season we trained on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If we had a midweek game, it appeared we only had one. Again, whether circumstance dictated that I don’t know. Would training be on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays? Or Monday, Weds and Thursdays? What about midweek games? Whatever it is, our players will be pretty busy next season.
Which is what we want. After losing to Bromley a mere month ago now (and is that how short it was? Feels like a lifetime now) we knew change was imminent. Now it’s here and it’s a bit hard to take in. But hey, you prefer it, right?
Anyway, as it stands we’ve re-signed Steve Ferguson (which did surprise me, though he’s obviously got over DA going). To me, he’s the sort of player that would be on fire if coached properly. Paul Seuke will probably be keeping AL on his toes next season. Don’t think I’ve mentioned Rob Quinn, Jason Goodliffe and Sam Hatton coming have I? Sure one of you will check. And let’s not forget we’ve signed Kevin Warner as well. Yes, really. Ex-Staines, ex-Hayes under TB, he’s the bloke who everyone leaves off when we talk about new signings. I fully expect he’ll get left off teamsheets because we’ve forgotten he’s one of our players. Don’t expect anyone to remember his invite for the players Xmas party. Still, he’ll probably be POTY next season.
Anything else? Not really. Summer sucks, and you know it. Roll on winter.