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And then there were three (more)

Let it not be said that NA isn’t trying to change things…

With the loan deadline now passed, at least until the free-for-all that is the January transfer window, as sure as night follows day we get two additional loanees in Paul McCallum (WHU) and Toby Ajala (Brizzle City). In addition, we’ve taken Ryan Hervel on a short term deal after we took a look at him, put him in a couple of triallist games and managed not to stink the joint out.

So, what? Well, according to a stat posted in the comments section of the last report, this will take the number of players used to 31 this season. And it’s not even December yet.

Bearing in mind that the OS suggests we have sixteen “proper” squad players on our books, that is an almost unsustainable revolving door worth of players coming and going. I genuinely lost count of how many loanees TB tried to get in to save his job, and how many of them are still here, and now NA seems equally unimpressed with what he’s been left with.

Tuesday (and last Saturday come to think of it) did prove that too much of the squad is not good enough to remain in the Football League, even if it’s a case of what’s between the ears. So I guess we can’t really complain at another attempt to be a circuitbreaker (© WDSA).

It’s ironic that as fans have called for more up front and somebody on the wing and in midfield, we’ve got three players in who fit those roles. Even if we get six weeks’ worth out of them, that’s five games in December that we’ve at least tried to do something about.

Frustration did boil over a little bit this week, as I’ve noticed a couple of anti-NA comments after the Southend game. Which quite simply I find a bit incredulous. Have people really forgotten what a mess he was left with?

I’m not sure I particularly buy this notion that an increasingly amount of our supporters have that this set of players is the most “distant” they’ve ever known it. OK, we’re not winning games again, but the “proper” squad that was constructed in the summer was so shit that after Chesterfield it had a LLDLLLL record before the Wycombe game.

Coincidentally, from Wycombe onwards, our record in the League has been WLLWLDWLLWDL, with the loanees. Still too many “L” in there, but there has been a gradual improvement, at least in our results. And it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were purring over beating York 3-0…

Do the set of results actually contradict the notion that our squad is generally not good enough? In a way, yes, because we did manage to be unbeaten for two League games before Southend. But below the surface there have been too few of the York/Brizzle Rovers performances and still too many of the Southend/Aldershot/Exeter pieces of turd.

It’s fair to say there’s been more navel gazing than usual recently. With regards this distant feel that a few (some? many?) have, it’s certainly not the camaraderie of the Conference playoff squad, although that too had issues, but in this painful rebuilding era you aren’t going to get that for a while.

And many clubs in the Football League never truly get it either.

Whether people feel “attached” to the current squad isn’t the same as being confident they can pull us out of this current shit. I’m not so sure on the latter, but obviously neither is our current boss. One can question the validity of chopping and changing so much, but when you’ve got players who you just can’t rely on for consistency, there aren’t many other options.

We’ll be a bit more settled this month as we can’t bring in anyone else for about five weeks, and you would expect some of the better “proper” players to come back. Besides, not having too much in the way of midweekers is going to help.

It will be interesting to see how McCallum gets on especially, as while he’s a yoof teamer from the Ammers, he’s scored six goals in 11 games. And compared to the pretty much flatlining partnership between Midson and Byron right now, anything to give them a kick up the arse will be welcome.

After all, Strutton is coming on and at least attempting to get his name on the scoresheet. We could do with a few more players doing that, and if McCallum is here just to prove himself to his parent club, at least we’ll get the benefits from that.

There’s also Ajala, who seems highly rated by the Brizzle City boss. Mind you, the last player Derek McInnes recommended to us was Andre Blackman. Still, if he does have the pace and ability on either flank or up front (according to NA on the OS) then he too will give us at least the necessary boost so desperately needed up front.

According to the Wimbledon Guardian though, Ajala is here for six months. He’s not, it’s for six weeks according to the AFCW Twatter feed. Even so, one does have to wonder what plans are being made for either Midson or Byron (especially if there is scope for bringing in such a player for the season in January). If nothing else it’s a wake-up call to both of them – two players who can play up front just before the loan window shuts…

“But we need a hard bastard in midfield” you say. Fair enough, although whether we’ll actually get one remains to be seen. Even in January. Anyone turning their nose up at who we’ve got in the last three weeks are forgetting that we’re outside this wanky transfer window. All any club can get in are loanees (usually kids or keepers like Sully), or those who haven’t got a club and haven’t tried getting a club in Iceland or somewhere.

Perhaps the addition of Hervel will be the most interesting of the lot. His Twatter photo shows him puffing away what looks like one of those hookah things you see old Turkish men smoke. So it looks like we’ve got ourselves a “character” already. He may well become the mythical Wimbledon-type signing, namely from obscurity but had the right drive and luck to make it with us.

Alternatively, he may not. But we don’t have to keep him if he isn’t.

What is becoming clear is that it’s now crunch time for some of the “proper” members of the squad, and one suspects some may know they’re on their way out come January. One hopes they are still motivated/professional enough to perform even if they sense they’ll be on their ear in just over five weeks’ time. After all, there will be scouts from other clubs eyeing them up, and maybe if they do well they’ll get another go with us.

Mind you, I’m sure I’ve written similar before and we never get to see them do that. Maybe things will change this month on that score, although given how this season has gone already I’m not holding my breath.

If nothing else though, at least we’re trying to do something. And at least we’re getting some little tasters of what to expect in January, which might end up being quite brutal. One thing is certain, I would hate to be the programme editor of our future opponents and trying to write their “meet the visitors” pen pics…