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Cutting crew

Yep, it’s that time of year again – the traditional end of season cull is upon us.

The “squad update” headline almost seems a bit too bland, considering the impact for all concerned – both players and clubs. Still, it’s part of the game, and it’s time to look at who will be elsewhere…

Dannie Bulman:

No longer Wimbledon’s number four. Probably not unexpected, being 38 years old in League One was always going to curtail his time with us beyond this season. And at times he looked every inch his age.

Still, we didn’t suffer the dreaded legs-going-mid-season that would have cut our options down even more, and I believe NA when he said how much of a “heavy heart” it was to release him. Surprised he didn’t get any coaching gig, unless he’s been preparing for one elsewhere.

Oh, and nobody did know what the fucking words were to his song either.

James Shea:

Probably the biggest surprise of the lot, though given previous seasons with us maybe not quite such the big shock it appears.

Still young for a keeper (25), and steadied the ship after the Ryan Clarke debacle, though there was something always 50/50 with him under the current management. Especially as our boss said he’s been looking at this position for months.

It’s also telling that he’s admitted he’s got it wrong in the past in this position (Ardley, not Shea), but it’s still a bit of a gamble to let our goalie go. He’d be a decent L2 goalie for somebody, mind you, though I’m sure Woking would be interested…

Chris Robertson:

Leaving to get more first team opportunities elsewhere, which is code for “won’t play again for us”.

With Robbo (the main one) with us for another year, and Will Nightingale forcing his way into being a regular starter, he was always going to be fourth choice at best. Mind you, his card was marked after he handballed against Northampton to cost us the game.

And after that, I think even Pim Balkenwatsit and MMK would be ahead of him in the pecking order.

Tom Beere/David Fitzpatrick/Dan Gallagher/George Oakley

One problem for the “home grown and hungry” brigade is what happens when they’re not quite good enough to make the step up. Which is what has happened to all four of them this season just gone.

Fitzpatrick never did much after returning from Torquay, Beere went to Gateshead and came back early IIRC, and the others didn’t really show up on the radar. Sad, but then football is littered with youngsters that didn’t make it.

Something we’ll have to get used to at AFCW, perhaps more than most clubs.

And believe it or not, that’s it. For now. The most interesting bit of this isn’t who has been named, but who is still here. Kelly might be moving back to chilly Jockoland, and while he was a decent enough understudy, NA clearly needs more “decent” than “enough”.

It seems that we’re all being softened up to lose Tom Elliott. This is the classic case of a good player being out of contract and simply considering his options. He’s been injury prone, and knows he may get one massive contract left, so he’s obviously going to make the most of it.

I don’t doubt he loves being here, the laughing and joking at the lap of honour against Oldham was genuine, and apparently he seemed happy to be amongst fans afterwards.

But he’s a Northern lad, and while I doubt if he’ll go to the Macron, somebody like Bradford or Scunny may be too tempting for him to resist. And considering we’ve got players in the past who wanted to return dahn sahf, we should expect to be on the reverse of that at times.

Just a pity that it’s our main talisman up front.

This quote from NA is the most eyecatching, though. And you don’t even need to read inbetween the lines too closely:

“There are a few other players who have been told to move on because they do not have futures at this club,” said Neal. “We will see going forward how that develops. If they cannot find other clubs, then they will still be Wimbledon players next season.”

Strong words, and even stronger deeds. I think we can all guess who he is referring to, though I won’t name them just in case we’ve all got the wrong end of the stick.

I wonder if AFCW simply aren’t going to pay off contracts unless they really have to? If you’re a player who has been told to do one, would you really want to stick around? I bet there are some player representatives getting some urgent phone calls this morning.

This can backfire of course, especially if an unwanted player knows he’s still getting paid next season. And why bother to find a new club if you know you can effectively take next season off?

We’re basically paying (in both senses of the word) for an awful bit of transfer dealing last summer, and we’ll be lucky to cut all our losses this time around.

You hear at other clubs comments about players who pick up wages for doing bugger all, and for the first time in the AFCW era that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve made mistakes, and ones that might prove to be a bit costly.

Still, I doubt if we’ve heard the last of the departures, and one senses this won’t be the only time we see “squad update” on the OS in the next month. One senses we’ve reached the end of the road with the ones that made Wombley so memorable, and we move on.

Of course, now all we have to do is to replace them…