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Summer Loving

It does seem it’s going a bit fast. It’ll be winter again before you know it.

Yep, SW19 has decided to put arse in gear and do the first proper update in about three weeks.

No, I haven’t been away (Berlin awaits later this month, hopefully), but I’ve been “off grid” so to speak with stuff AFCW related.

The weather has been too good, your editor has found his golf clubs again and the thought that the season restarts in five weeks or so is very far from my mind.

But things are happening…

Actually, in ordinary times we’d be kicking off the season by now. And we’d likely already be out of the Carabao Cup.

In this new reality, the players returned to training a couple of weeks ago, and with hopefully a new look and impetus ahead.

Which is why, since the last update, we’ve made some signings.

So, a belated welcome to Wimbledon for Cheye Alexander and Connal Trueman, and this week we added Alex Woodyard and Ollie Palmer too.

A youngster from Barnet who can play in a number of positions, a young goalie, an experienced midfielder and a striker who seems to know where the net is.

On paper at least, the kind of signings we need.

Alexander is one of those ones I expect we’ll see rotate with our other youngsters during games, though apparently he’s a very good crosser of the ball.

Which adds to the excitement of the arrival of our new signing last seen at Crawley.

As somebody elsewhere put it yesterday, if they had any their fans would be pissed off. And those who have seen Youtube clips are already impressed.

The forward line has been a long-running joke, and not a particularly funny one at that.

Piggy can’t do it all by himself, and he went off the boil a lot last season. Roscrow is young, and I’m struggling to remember anyone else we have.

I think we’re still short up front, and won’t be surprised if we get somebody else in as well – probably a youngster on loan, or somebody who’s happy to be down the pecking order and come on as sub when we’re 2-1 down at Shrewsbury.

Or in other words, we’re signing Michael Folivi again at some point.

Our most important signing thus far may be Alex Woodyard. Crazy name, and probably a crazy guy with it.

Him signing for us has upset the Tranmere fans a bit** as it sounds like their upturn in form coincided with his arrival there in January.

** – not living up to the stereotype from that part of the world, honest, but they’ve got the arse over anyone in L1 signing any one.

We seem to be getting it in the neck more than any other side. That’s mainly because we were the team directly above them in the table, and if it had been Rochdale they’d be getting it instead.

OK, they were very unlucky, but like us with Franchise, they really do have to suck it up and get on with it again.

To put it bluntly – they’ve gone from being the victims to playing them…

I didn’t know he was Peterborough captain in 2018/19, and Lincoln fans seemed to rate him when he was an Imp.

We’ve needed the new Danny Bulman since the old one left, and maybe we’ve finally got him?

We’re starting to get a reputation for being the testing ground for promising young keepers, and our latest one is Mr Trueman.

He’s had first team experience for Brum, and started a number of games last season, until Leeds put five past him (then Hull netting three the game after), and ended up back on the sidelines.

Whether it’s just a case of needing a run of games remains to be seen – Trueman is 24 and therefore a bit older than the shotstoppers we normally get.

If he gets a good start, we’ll have nothing to worry about. If he doesn’t, at least he’s on loan…

Unless I’ve missed somebody out, that’s the signings so far. I get the feeling GH has an idea of how he wants to play, and is starting to stamp his identity on the squad.

Now that certain wage thieves are touting their wares elsewhere, he’s got a chance to redirect that money in places where it might be useful.

We haven’t been able to properly rebuild since the Ardley era reached its dog end days.

Walter was hampered both by having to honour awful contracts for awful players, and the fallout of dipping into the new stadium fund to pay for those.

Today, it seems like prudence has returned to AFCW, as we’ve reportedly budgeted for a whole season behind closed doors** apparently.

** – Personally, I think fans will be back in grounds this season, perhaps even in 2020, especially as there’ll be a number of pilot schemes like this one.

And unless I’m missing something, I cannot see any reason why clubs like Raynes Park Vale can’t continue on as normal when the campaign restarts.

So GH has the chance to do his rebuilding job, within constraints, and it doesn’t seem a bad start.

Perhaps under the radar, there’s now a salary cap in effect. Effective as soon as you read this.

Apart from the PFA kicking up a stink, which might delay its implementation, it’s something that has been mooted for a while and is now finally actioned.

It covers everything from wages, bonuses (though not cup ones), image rights and agents fees, and for most clubs in the bottom two tiers, it’s a good move.

You can tell it’s the right choice because of the howls coming from Sunderland, Ipswich, Pompey and one or two others.

I have fuck all sympathy for them, because they’ve lost their divine right to spunk vast sums of money on crap.

It’s because of their eye-watering wage bills that the cap has been bought in to begin with – Sunderland apparently spent £12.5m last season, and that’s simply unsustainable.

As is often said on SW19, you can easily spend a lot of money on rubbish in L1. Your editor saw both our games against Ipswich, and wasn’t impressed by the Tractor Boys on either occasions.

I doubt if Paul Lambert put together a squad that only cost £1.50, somehow.

In among all the whinging, all these clubs just mentioned have forgotten why they’re in L1 – they’re shit on and off the field.

Instead of trying to blow everyone else out of the water with wages – and usually failing – they’ll have to properly focus on their youth setups and get their scouting correct.

Which is probably what upsets them the most right now . They’ll have to learn to be properly run.

True, the cap might mean a bigger gap now between the Championship and L1, but it’s not exactly small anyway.

There’s nothing to stop a side getting promoted from L1 and then start throwing money around again.

For the rest of us, it’s long overdue.

I don’t know what our wage bill was last year, but with NPL hopefully able to start generating more, at least we’re going to get a more level playing field.

And more importantly, we don’t have to keep slitting our throats just to remain in the division.

It won’t make it totally level anyway, and a good example of it will be us competing against Portsmouth for talent.

Pompey can still pay a player £10k a week if they want to – that’s why it’s a salary cap rather than a wage one.

It’s just that they won’t be able to stuff their squad full of them.

And let’s be honest – Portsmouth should be able to get players we can’t even now, because they stand a better chance of playing in the Championship in the next season or two.

If players start rejecting playing at Fratton Park and go to Plough Lane instead, that says more about Pompey and ourselves…

Actually, when you look at the latest pictures of the new place, there’s something a bit different from the last SW19 update.

Yes – it’s starting to look like a football stadium.

The semi-permanent stands are bigger than anything we had at KM, but the West Stand and the giant wall behind the South Stand make it look tiny.

(As an aside, I’m doubtlessly in a minority of one here but I’d rather we left the big wall as it is – it’s quite imposing anyway, and a big banner will as likely be shit as not).

But you can now well imagine sitting/standing on those very rows – when restrictions are lifted, obviously – and how intimidating it will end up being on a good night.

The more the flat-pack goes up, the more real it becomes. And when the seats go in…

Finally, a quick word on the debentures. I assume the club need the money from them sooner rather than later.

That would explain why they’re rushing on with this new computer system without seemingly testing it first.

I’m not getting a debenture, and will only get an ST so I haven’t kept tabs on any of this. But the club has fallen into the oft-laid trap of over-complicating something when it should be simpler.

That so many people online (and off it) seem confused about what they’re supposed to do, and when, doesn’t bode well when it goes live.

I don’t doubt some are giving up on it already, and they shouldn’t need to.

I will give the club a bit of slack here – we’re understaffed at the best of times, they’re doing something that usually tests organisations with double the manpower, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic to boot.

Even so, there’s something a tad familiar sounding about all of this.

Implementing new computer systems and them going wrong isn’t unique to AFCW – tried using Virgin Mobile or Virgin Money systems recently?

But things like trying to go live less than twenty four hours after telling people they need to reset passwords is asking for trouble.

That it got put forward to yesterday (Friday), then Monday at the earliest is confusing me, and I’m not even involved.

I don’t doubt the majority of people will eventually get the seat they want, and get to sit with the people they want to.

But somehow, I’m not sure “eventually” is what we should be aiming for from now on…

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