Blimey, it’s been quite busy in the transfer department over the past 48 hours, hasn’t it? And we’ve still got four days until the window shuts….
The big news – in fact, astonishing news – is that Terry Brown has finally signed a defender. The world really did stop when it was announced, although one suspects he was kidnapped after the Gillingham game and forced at gunpoint to sign somebody who wasn’t a forward.
So anyway, step forward Gavin Hoyte of Arsenal. Yes, that one. I’m not too sure what’s more eyeopening, somebody we’ve sort-of heard of or TB getting in a full back…
OK, enough snarkiness. It was perhaps the one position which was neglected and now isn’t. How many new faces have been drafted in this month now? Seven? Any corrections welcomed by the way, I’ve honestly lost count.
And yes, it’s another loanee, but TB has said on the OS that Hoyte is here “initially” for a month. Bit like Euell then, and if their recent comments are anything to go by, both Knott and Moncur may be here beyond February.
So, what do we know about Hoyte? Perhaps more to the point, is he likely to be the same try-before-you-buy player we get in, a la C-Mac and Gwillim? Well, he’s a right back, can also play in the centre, and is apparently way, way down the pecking order at the Emirates.
He also spent a great deal of time last season at Lincoln. Now, remember that they were in L2 last season, and apparently the Imps were doing quite well before he got injured (aha, THAT’S what’s convinced TB to sign him…).
So it’s obvious that Arsenal don’t have too many more plans for him, if they would rather loan him out to our level for two seasons in a row. Indeed, providing all goes well with us, they’ll probably be happy to do a deal with us come May…
What this will do to Sam Hatton and Fraser Franks is anyone’s guess. Hatton does at least have competition now, and he really needs to step up his game big time. I get the feeling FF will be history come the summer, as he seems to have disappeared without trace again.
The other big signing this week, as we all know by now, is Jason Prior from Bognor. Presumably for a fee more than the Â£10k we suppposedly paid for Danny Kedwell.
Now, as you know I don’t really like signing players from anything lower than the Conference, as the Listed Five showed there is a big gap between being a BSP player and being a League Two one.
Prior had been scoring in Ryman One South, but so did Rob Ursell. What may help Prior is that Newcastle trialled him, and other Football League clubs are after him. Although if Brighton (who were also reportedly after him) had got him, he would have spent the rest of this season in their second string.
Remember that Sammy Moore made a one-division jump to join us, and Jolley made the leap of two leagues. And he took a good year to get to the level he is with us now (and even now, I still think he blows hot and cold too much).
I guess that Prior is seen as somebody to be bedded in for next year. We’re only five wins away from likely safety, chances are we may reach it sooner. Bedding in with a more confident and L2-level collection of players is the best – in fact, the only – way that somebody like Prior is going to develop.
Of course, he’ll score a hat-trick tomorrow and all will be well. And we know what happens to strikers who score on their AFCW debuts…
A couple more are in, and inevitably a few have gone out. Brendan Kiernan is at Braintree, which is probably the biggest no-brainer of the lot. I took a rare look at the Conference table, and didn’t realise that a) Braintree were actually in the Conference and b) they’re mid-table.
Perhaps the most noteworthy is Brett Johnson on loan to Cambridge. He never really recovered from the Bristol Rovers game, did he? If one was to look at predictions made at the beginning of the season, he was the one who was almost a dead cert to make the step up.
Thanks to Kyle for pointing this out – here’s what our manager said earlier this week on the OS about him:
“We have almost a fully fit squad at the moment and I think this loan deal will be beneficial to both us and Brett as we want him staying fit and playing games”
And here’s what he said about Ed Harris going on loan to Dover on the 29th March, 2011:
“Dover have an injury crisis and needed a centre back. We wanted Ed to get some match time so this suits everyone. He has gone for the minimum period of 28 days and we will review the position with him and Dover at the end of that period. If we need him back we can recall him after the 28 days has elapsed.”
Are we seeing the first signs of the big rebuilding job needed in the summer already? The rumour mill is suggesting that Ryan Jackson could be joining BJ at Cambridge, and James Mulley is weighing up his options.
When you consider that we may have already signed next season’s new right back, together with two forwards in Byron and Prior, there’s thankfully no obvious sign of being as woefully underprepared as we were last close season.
What is also clear is that some money has been pumped in from somewhere. If Byron came for an AFCW record fee (as in, more than Â£20k-25k paid for Jon Main) and figure of Â£12k were being bandied about for Prior, that’s a fair wedge being put in.
We’re certainly not going to be amongst the bottom four in terms of player budget any more – obviously, we’re not going to match certain teams in terms of money out, but this should nail the excuse (or lie) that we’re paupers. If we were, we shouldn’t be.
Being run well isn’t the same as being run so tightly your arse squeaks when you move. Putting too little money in is as damaging to a club as putting in too much unsubstainable money…
Chances are that TB won’t be taking in any more players now, unless a target suddenly becomes available at the right price before the window shuts. Or he decides he needs to add just one more time to the 27 forwards we already have. It would be surprising if we’ve heard the last of those going out the door though.
Actually, TB has had form with this sort of thing. Remember the Ryman Prem season where he signed as many players on-loan to get us up? Looking back, that was one helluva gamble, probably a bigger one looking back at it in cool hindsight than it was at the time.
And of course, we’ve loaned in Nathan Elder and Drewe Broughton in the past…
This time, he’s actually loaned in well. What will happen if we’ve miscalculated the loan arrangements is anyone’s guess, although it’s going to be hard to see those released coming back for anything more than a cameo. And logic does tell you that it’s better for Knott, Moncur and Hoyte to be playing regularly for us.
Put it this way, if we’ve signed the loanees only for a month without any option to keep them on, TB will suddenly find life very uncomfortable again. Deservedly, too.
Still, we’re all happy again. Or at least relatively content. People are genuinely looking forward to tomorrow against Aldershot, a team that haven’t scored in ages, who looked all right against Plymouth when your editor covered them but no more than that, and who even managed to struggle to score against our sack of shite at the Rec earlier in the season.
And if you need me to supply the inevitable conclusion….