… Lee Minshull of Tonbridge Angels.
I expect your initial reaction was a bit like mine, namely a sense of underwhelment. I know that there had been murmurings of a new signing, and the noises coming out of AFCW was that there are more and more players becoming available to us. TB himself has gone on record and said that.
But maybe it’s because I was watching SSN today, seeing the likes of Yakubu getting released from Barnet and putting 2 and 2 together, and expecting a Conf level player who gave us a bit of grief last season, but who is now tempted by the footballing babylon called Kingsmeadow.
OK, I’m being unfair on poor Mr Minshull, who hopefully hasn’t had second thoughts coming here already. From TB himself:
“Lee is a powerful, tough-tackling player who will add much-needed bite to our midfield as well as a good number of goals. This was an area in which we were weak last year, and Lee will also contribute mental and physical strength.â€
Nabbed from the OS. It’s fair to say that our midfield was one of our weak spots last season, and we certainly do need a terrier in there. I hope “Minsh” really does pull it off for us. If you want to know a little bit more about him, click here. Even though he does look like Wayne Rooney’s brother and disturbingly supports Spurz…
But I suppose the sense of underwhelming is nothing to do with his signing so much as it’s the second of two signings from two divisions below.Â I actually do fear that we’re going to have a majority of signings from that level, because somehow the budget will not be as forthcoming as one hopes it will.
And ultimately, what good will that do? Not only to the likes of Minsh and Jolley, but the club itself. It’s no coincidence that of all the retained players from last season, only a couple (JM and Ricky Wellard) had never played at a higher level beforehand. Remember that Steven Gregory went through the ranks at Wycombe too.
I fully supported going full time, still do as much as I did when it was first mooted, and I accept that we may have to make a step backwards to continue forwards again. But there’s a danger that we might be trying to do it too cheaply. I don’t think we’re quite developed enough as a team to start making virtually every signing yet another undiscovered gem from divisions below.
People will (and already are) pointing out that WFC used to do this. Yes, we/it did, but we had far more of a bedrock of a team than we do right now. Warren Barton came in from Maidstone, but he was the odd signing who could count on a bunch of experienced players to bed him in.
Who’s going to be guiding Jolley and Minsh through some inevitable tricky periods? Ricky Wellard? Christ, the guy’s just out of proverbial Conference nappies himself. DK? Alongside his captaincy, goalscoring and all round keeping the club going single handedly? BJ? Methinks he’d like a decent central defender next to him before he plays Kindergarten teacher…
And don’t forget, this is an AFCW side that’s licking its wounds from the back end of last season – confidence has been shaken a bit as it is. You can sense that the pressure is already starting to build on the more experienced players : not only to guide the youngsters through, but recover their own form in the process.
I think we’ve got to be honest with ourselves here, and make at least one of the next signings somebody who is a bona fide Conference level player. It doesn’t have to be a Richard Brodie, though that would be nice, but a Luke Moore level player will do. Obviously, he’s got to be “right” for us, and the budget will put a lot of potential targets out of reach, but we do have to remember what division we’re in.
The club could fall into the trap of building a side for the Conference South again, and I don’t need to tell you the fallout from that. I think we’ll be OK, but finishing eighth again is starting to look a bit of a tall order right now. Actually, I think it was always going to be a tall order anyway, but so far our buying policy isn’t settling any nerves.
All this could change within the next couple of weeks anyway. There’s still a good month before pre-season training starts again, and there will be the usual trial games and whatnot. We’re not the only one in this position, but the more Conf level players turn us down and the more we have to pluck from the Ryman, the less confident everyone starts becoming.
On that cheery thought, as you’ve seen above I’m off to NY/NJ for a week. I expect a couple more signings upon my return, I just wonder if they’ll be from Croydon Athletic or Corinthian Casuals…