… although even on this warm summer’s day, if you shake it all about you’d probably get arrested.
Considering there’s no World Cup, Euro Championships or even Intertoto Cup to distract us, this is turning into a very weird close season. Namely, there doesn’t seem to have been much of a close season at all.
It’s five weeks since we were recovering from post-Eastlands hangovers, and yet things seem as busy as ever. The first scheduled pre-season game is now under a fortnight away, the surest sign that the long hot days of wondering what to do are over. Yesterday, and for what seemed like an eternity, the club announced all but one PSF. For those
still living under a rock who have a life and haven’t bothered checking, here they are:
- Fulham – 9 July
- Sutton – 12 July
- Beckenham Town – 19 July
- Bedfont Town – 21 July
- Watford 23 July
Awe inspiring, aren’t they?
OK, we’ve still got to announce something for the 16th July with a Football League side (will probably end up being Franchise), and our reserves are off to Guernsey that day. But according to the club, that’s it for this pre-season. You would have semi-expected even an evening game at somewhere like Ebbsfleet…
Mind you, perhaps a smaller pre-season is de rigeur for clubs that have to start early? Fulham don’t seem to have many friendlies themselves lined up (yes, I know the extra-early games in the Europa League are of that level…) and presumably any players that need to catch up with fitness and sharpness will be given a run out against somebody like Bedfont.
There doesn’t seem to be much sign of a planned “training camp” getaway too, although after Las Vegas that’s probably just as well…
Which leads us on nicely to Steven Gregory. Bournemouth want him, and it must have been serious as the club was forced to put up an item on the OS that related to football. On Friday, SSN reported that Gregs had put in a transfer request, although nobody has mentioned it either via official channels – yet – or indeed anywhere else.
It does seem that AFCB have put in another “improved” bid. So, how much for? Rumours on the ever reliable Twitter says it’s Â£40k. Which is actually lower than the Â£50k the editor of the local paper in Bournemouth touted when the story first broke. So either somebody is producing EU-directive breaking levels of bullshit or this is a new cunning way of transfer negotiations.
That said, perhaps Bournemouth think we’re so desperate for the money we’ll easily capitulate? If you consider how many players we’ve let go, anyone looking in could think we need to panic-sell. If it is Â£40k (or even if it isn’t), we should tell them to piss off, because it should be nearer Â£100k. He might not be worth that, but it will make other clubs look at their bank balances first before phoning up Erik with an offer…
Losing Gregs as well as DK will again hurt, but this feels a bit more of an annoyance than a kick in the goolies. Should he go, it won’t be for Â£40k – or better not be – and we do have cover in that area. OK, it will put a lot of pressure on Ricky Wellard, who has a season to prove he can be a professional footballer, and there’s always the PFA List.
And apologies for harping back to this list again, but what’s the point of a L2 side paying a sizeable transfer fee for players right now? Don’t get me wrong, the likes of Gregs and DK did well to get us up, but again – why would somebody want to pay good money for them when there’s plenty of other players available sans transfer payment?
Lest we forget our Football League status came about because we hit the purplest of purple patches in the last ten games of the season. We were pretty ordinary for a fair few games last season, hardly L2 standard. If any other players are feeling mutinous, they need to pipe down and remember exactly not only where they are, but who they are as well.
A couple of days ago, we signed Mat Mitchel-King. A centre back, Rio Ferdinand lookalike, big bastard and he got released from Crewe. Not to mention somebody whose name will be frequently mis-spelt. OK, you may ask why we got rid of Yaks for another player with injury issues, although if it’s his back that’s the problem, presumably it’s easier to look after than the knee issues that poor Yaks had.
MMK (and watch the more hypersensitive Womble have a stroke over those initials) has had more games in the Football League than DK and Gregs put together. If we look at him in that way, other clubs will as well. Also, Stuart Cash seemed to let something slip when he was talking about the striker situation earlier this week.
“We’ve got six or seven on our list and are in talks with a couple at the moment. We want to add a bit of quality.”
Hmm, a bit of quality. Manager speak for “we need somebody better in”. Is that a statement of fact or a thinly veiled dig? Going after seven strikers is a statement of intent, although we certainly need a couple. And as that link from earlier that week says, our aim of level of striker has gone that little bit higher.
Which leads us back to the now suddenly-gone-very-quiet DK saga. The upcoming seven days may turn out to be make-or-break for him. We’re actively looking elsewhere, pre-season starts pretty soon, and one senses that he has to move this week or not at all. I don’t mean that in the sense of, he won’t go at all if he trudges up for pre-season training, but what his standing will be at the club from now on.
I can’t see him remaining captain now, so he automatically loses some kudos. Will he be the undoubted top dog at AFCW now, like he has been for the last couple of seasons? If he is, he shouldn’t be – putting in a transfer request doesn’t show you’re 100% committed, which was previously a large part of his aura. And now we learn that two new strikers are being actively sought.
For the first time since his transfer request, there’s a possibility he may stay after all. Granted, we don’t know what negotiations are going on behind the scenes, but it will be a very interesting reaction if we find his name on the team sheet for the first PSF against Fulham.
Of course, if he was to get a hat-trick against Crawley…
One more thing, and to end on a positive note for once, we have got BJ, FF and Luke Moore for at least another year. These are probably the sort of signings that don’t make the headlines but will be vital cogs in our wheel next season. But there’s also something two of those three have in common – both have been in the League, been released and know what it’s like to suddenly find yourself out of favour.
They do seem to know what side their slice of wholemeal is buttered on, which is why they seem happy to sign up with us. No histronics, no slamming in transfer requests, nothing like that. And in BJ’s case one of our most consistent players throughout the whole of last season.
We’ve seemed to have lost track of who’s signed up, who’s staying but yet to sign etc etc, so hopefully the OS could give us a nice little list to be
paranoid about who hasn’t signed up yet look at. We assume that Hatton and Tooks are going to be with us next season, unless they too have demanded to be sold as well. And we have signed Seb up, right?
Oh, and anyone noticed that the club mentioned Gareth Gwillim’s name in the bit about us signing Mitchel-King…?