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And our first signing is…

… well, you can’t call Jon Meades a new signing, can you?

So, it’s a welcome (back) to AFCW for one of the better players of THAT 2012/13 season. He was the yang to the ying of MMK and Pim Balkestein*, and not for the first time we’ve got a player we recognise already.

* – had this thought yesterday – is it me or does Pim seem to get away with his “performances” that campaign in a way MMK doesn’t? He was certainly one of the most disappointing permanent signings of the AFCW era, especially as your editor remembered the spunkfest when he moved full time from Griffin Park…

Despite sleeping on it overnight, I’m still a tad lukewarm over him returning. If he can regain his form, if he can get regular game time, and – this is the crucial bit – if he can remain injury free, then he will be a good (re)addition.

That’s a lot of “ifs” though, which is why I hope he’s relatively cheap.

Admittedly, SW19 never likes it when we re-sign old players. The likes of Euell, Chris Hussey, Alfie Potter and even arguably Neil Sullivan managed to veer between underwhelming and just outright shite.

In his interview, NA did touch on that by mentioning Francomb (I’ll leave those who watch games regularly to answer whether he bucks that particular trend). Meades was certainly somebody we were sad to see depart back then, and you can see why our manager has snagged him again.

It’s not like JM mark 2 doesn’t have some things in his favour. He’s only 23 years old, he knows the club and the manager, he’s decent enough and he’s certainly going to get a chance to revive his career.

Will it work out? Hopefully it will, but we have been down this route before. And I did notice this little throwaway comment from Ardley:

I think by the end of the season we could have a very good player.

Personally, I would prefer it if he starts coming good about October…

Still, that’s the first face in. It’s pretty clear that with pre-season looming, the need to get more players signed this week becomes ever more important.

According to our boss, we may need more ink in our signing pens:

“We need five players and that is what I am aiming for. We are looking to get a couple of centre forwards, a couple of centre backs, and maybe a wide man who can play either side and offer something different to what we already have.

So with our penchant for old players returning, we can expect to see Kedwell, Charlie Sheringham, Christian Jolley, Benno and Framps returning for one final swansong.

I jest. At least, I think I do.

The bit about getting close to players who we otherwise wouldn’t have thought would have joined is the intriguing comment in that particular article. Lest we forget signing Tubbs alongside AA this time last year.

We won’t know who we get in until we, er, get them in, but speculation is inevitable. We are still in what medics call “close season syndrome”, where even the dodgiest gossip is treated as a gospel truth delivered from upon high.

Sometimes, I think somebody at the club shop creates a semi-plausible rumour, because they know at least one fan will already order a new shirt with that name on it…

I would guess we won’t get all five in before Watford, and perhaps we won’t get even three of them in before pre-season training starts. Which is next Monday, apparently.

Usually we have all the squad in place before the last PSF, although for some reason I have this hunch we could be getting a player in after the season starts.

No insider knowledge or anything like that, but this close season has been quite slow for signings, and it could be that we’re waiting to get who we want rather than just nabbing anyone.

Reading around, it sounds like a lot of L2 sides are doing the same. Only a few days ago, your editor read that Wycombe still only have nine players.

Some teams are buying early (ie Cambridge), and there are the usual high spenders. But it feels that because there is such a surplus of players clubs are taking their time a bit more these days.

And it’s easy to spend decent money on crap at this level.

In our case, we’re fortunate that we have the backup of yoof players coming through, even if they’re not quite as ready for regular first XI action as some want to think.

This might be the first time in the AFCW era where we haven’t had a mass overhaul of the squad. Granted, five first-team players is still a sizeable number, but at least we’re no longer replacing seven or eight…