And no “side” needed either.
Yep, he’s decided not to sign a new deal with us after all, and instead decided to try his luck in not-so-bonnie Scotland instead. Well, Partick Thistle, to be more precise.
You can’t really begrudge him for doing this, especially as he was unlikely to become a starter in League One (and how surreal does that still sound?) and he gets to play against the Old Firm.
His contribution at Wembley, and some other games, was always as the pacey super-sub, a bit like Andy Clarke was back in the day, and never quite hitting it right when he did start.
Was he ever as popular as he could have been? Some did make him a bit of a scapegoat, probably unfairly, but I think most will remember his willingness to learn and getting that penalty late on a couple of weeks ago.
Still, fair play to him avoiding getting sent on loan to Dagenham, and only the most churlish wouldn’t wish him well in Glesga.
What this does mean is that we’re short again on strikers, with Akinfenwa looking for a new club to flog his shirts to. It’s a bit of a strange time in the close season anyway, as players/managers/agents are generally on holiday and contracts haven’t yet expired.
It’s easy to forget it’s only been about a fortnight since we beat Plymouth, and everyone has taken a well deserved break. True, we were the last team to win in the 2015/16 English season, but there’s probably been lists scrapped and new targets looked at.
There’s pictures on social media of Karleigh Osbo(u)rn(e) doing pre-season fitness drills in an AFCW top, and that signing would be a no-brainer if it happened.
One only suspects there are other irons in the metaphorical hot flamey stuff that we don’t yet know about. Christ, we haven’t even announced our full set of PSFs yet.
At the time of writing, the most exciting bit of it seems to be the trip to Kent on a Tuesday evening, to face Les Douvres, and the rest of it is clearly to gain match fitness.
Thankfully, the return of Woking pleases your editor, as it always seems to signify the return of the season proper. Plus we always seem to win there.
I wonder what the game on the 9th will be? Assuming there is one, needless to say – I always have the same feeling each year we never play enough of them, and this year as it stands we’re not even playing anyone from L2.
Maybe we should have played a couple more last summer just to prove to NA his planned tactics really were shite?
Still, it doesn’t matter – the season will be upon us sooner than you realise. And that includes the reformatted EFL Trophy, or the ex-JPT to you. And we get a few Premier League B-teams in there this season for good measure.
I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t gone down that well, to put it mildly. Needless to say, the paranoia and outright pant-shitting about B-teams getting shoehorned into the Football League pyramid system has boiled away this past week.
The thing is, I think it’s become less likely to happen – not more.
How so? Firstly, it’s become apparent that a lot of clubs (ourselves included) have rejected even this idea. Even more damning, it appears that it scraped through approval despite the 90% threshold being somewhat reduced for this proposal.
And this is for something that – in isolation – isn’t the worst idea in the world. At least playing Chelski stiffs makes it slightly more interesting, in pure footballing terms anyway.
I should clarify before I get razor blades in the post that the B-team idea in the FL is one of the worst ideas going. Firstly, because it will damage the integrity of the pyramid and that the lower leagues are simply getting used as scratching posts.
Secondly, and one thing that gets overlooked – it will do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of Prem u21 sides.
League Two in particular can be a pretty brutal division. There’s a reason why so few PL sides lend their youth to the fourth tier, and anyone who is any good tends to go into the Championship anyway.
Can you imagine Chelski u21s getting harried each week by the likes of Wycombe? From that angle alone, it wouldn’t do anything for their development, especially considering youth setups are to nurture individuals.
The loan system is far better for that sort of thing, for so many reasons, and even on-field alone B-teams would be a bad idea terribly executed.
In other words, typically FA-esque.
So why the ex-JPT? Why now? Well, I think it’s simply sacrificing a tournament everyone hates, to railroad a concept nobody wants and get a bit of money out of it in the process.
After all, if they have to put rules in to force teams to play stronger squads, it’s not something with much of a future.
Let’s face it – this competition is a hindrance at the best of times. It’s a day out at Wembley if you’re lucky, and that’s about it. That Johnstone’s Paint did one pretty much sums it up, not to mention the joke Sucker AM makes of the draw.
But hold on – isn’t this just going to soften up chairmen to eventually accept B-teams? To be honest, I think it’s become a lot less likely now.
Fans in particular will be much more vigilant, and FL chairmen know this. Why do you think every single statement made in the last week has dismissed the B-teams-in-the-League idea?
With this idea barely scraping through with the lowered approval percentage, even if some chairmen waver in future, it’s an indication of how difficult something much more major will ever happen.
We certainly won’t approve it, and by the looks of it plenty of others won’t as well.
As said earlier, the whole B-team idea is a stupid one on so many levels, but at least FL clubs can turn around to the PL/FA and say they’ve considered that idea and it won’t work beyond the ex-JPT.
No, I don’t think planned boycotts will make any difference – nobody will tell the difference between snubbing Prem u21 opponents and a typical first round ex-JPT tie anyway – and one suspects it’s been done simply to make sure it fails.
If they drop the squad strengthening rule for L1/L2 sides, it’s going to make it farcial anyway. An all B-team final at Wembley is going to look like the FA Vase final (have you seen the average turnout for a second-string PL game? It’s worse than Franchise), and to be honest you can see why some chairmen have just decided to take the money for this season.
Obviously, it’s all part of this EFL revamp which got announced when your editor was away, which may include some more teams in the whole system.
It’s much more likely that will come from the Conference rather than the shoehorning of Prem u21 sides, partly for reasons stated above but also because it will go some way to sorting out that particular tier of football.
The Conference is an odd mixture of relative big clubs (usually ex-League ones) and traditional non-league sides who were there when it was the Gola League.
Not that it should be a national league anyway, when you think about it – imagine the finances when Sutton have to go to Gateshead next season.
Plus it’s such a big gap (psychologically as well) between the FL and the Conf that York in particular seem very worried about their future now they’ve gone down.
Restructuring isn’t new, we’ve seen the introduction of the Conference South in AFCW times, and it probably needs it more than we otherwise may think.
I wouldn’t object to much if most of the current proposals, as we play too many games in the lower reaches anyway. Some of the Sat-Tue-Sat-Tue fixtures have been real slogs, and that’s just for supporters.
Plus the extra game revenue often gets reduced when it’s somebody like Morecambe away. So if they did cut it back it probably would be swings and roundabouts.
Mind you, how the logistics of a restructure will work I don’t know, unless you relegate half the sides in one season…