The transfer window
Several ageing players retired after the season, and others ran out of contract. Since one of my aims is to continue the focus on continuity at the club, I gave four ex-players roles as staff;
- Stuart Nelson – U18s goalkeeping coach
- Luke Moore – Scout
- Sami El-Abd – First team coach
- Jerome Beckles – U18s assistant manager
Other players also left, and while I would like to keep some of them, we needed to renew ourselves and get some younger lads in. Regarding Josh Taylor, I couldn’t turn down getting money for a player, and who am I to stop him from playing in the EFL?!
Ed Harris also earned a move to League Two. He had a fantastic season last year and was our vice-captain. However, he’s turning 32 soon, and there are better players available.
- Slavomir Huk – Bardejov – Free
- Silvio Bello – Gateshead – Free
- Josh Taylor – Rochdale – £15.75K
- Ed Harris – Grimsby – £3.2K
- Guiseppe Sole – Released
- Nicky Wheeler – Released
- Isaac Philpott – Released
- Charlie Hester-Cook – Released
- Dan Gallagher – Released
- Ben Dyett – Released
- Zeli Ismail – Released
The Zeli Ismail one bothers me a little bit. He demanded a way higher wage than he got when arriving a few months earlier, and he refused anything shorter than a three-year deal. I refused to agree to those terms and opted to sign Marcus Maddison instead. Maddison eventually turned us down and signed for Boston Utd, so there I was with just one right-winger in the squad. We needed many transfers in because of the retirements and the ageing squad. To build on the ideas from last season, I needed to set a transfer strategy for the foreseeable future. After a bit of back and forth, I’m relatively pleased with the strategy I have to work after.
We have no money to spend, and for the foreseeable future, that won’t change. The new stadium will cost us £17K a month for ten years on.
In addition to the list below, I always look out for players with good passing ability and good technique. If I can implement the possession / total football type of play I want, we need good passers in the squad. However, I can’t force that type of football on a bunch of semi-pros outside the football league.
After the promotion, the average skills in the league was a tad higher than we got used to last year, and our analyst pointed out that especially the physical side of our side was way below average. We had the lowest average on stamina in the league.
So, we’ve identified some weak areas. We needed another goalkeeper since Huk and Nelson left(and retired). The defence was leaky last season and needed to be strengthened before a season at a higher level. But, all in all, I’m pretty happy with the players brought in. Six of the nine newcomers comes on a free transfer as rejects from Arsenal, Tottenham(Four of them!) and Chelsea, and the other three also arrives from Premier League academies. I have massive faith in all of them, and they will be given plenty of chances at the club.
Marques Muir, Sammy Braybrooke and Dante Cassanova seem to be the ones that have come the longest in the development and will almost certainly play a big part from the get-go.
We started our life in National League with a tough away game against one of Oldham’s favourites for promotion. We took an early lead by Bobby-Joe Taylor before Marqes Muir got sent off after half an hour in his debut. After that, we got bombarded, and in the 74th minute, we could no longer resist.
The first game at our temporary home against Hartlepool was beyond all expectations. We fired on all cylinders and played them off the field. Jason Prior, Alfie Rutherford and James McShane got their first goals for the season, while the forever young Wes Fogden scored a brace and continued his strong performances after the comeback. Fogden continued his form when he scored the only goal against Guiseley in a relatively dull match.
When Eastleigh visited, they got a proper beating when Prior bagged a hattrick, and Rutherford scored again.
Boreham Wood matched us in every aspect of their game, but a man of the match performance from Dominic Rogerson in goal and a late goal from Sammy Braybrooke secured the third straight win at home.
Against King’s Lynn, Olly Allen got a rare chance from the start and thanked by scoring his first-ever goal when he gave us the lead. That’s the first goal from an academy graduate and a massive achievement for the club. McShane scored a brace before halftime, and the game was pretty much over.
Away at Torquay proved to be way harder than expected. However, a penalty to each team in the last 10 minutes made it a very much deserved draw for both teams when Prior scored ours in the 88th minute.
The against Solihull Moors was again much more exciting than it had to be. We had 16 shots on target before Dante Cassanova scored his first for the club after 88 minutes. George Nunn scored his first in the 93rd minute and made it 2-0.
An almost perfect month for us, and I have very little to complain about. We’ve started the season way better than expected and without a doubt proved that we belong at this level. We’ve also managed to tighten up the defence compared to last year. A flying start to the season is topped with another Manager of the Month award.
Our good form continued when we visited Weymouth and McShane gave an early lead. With goals from Josh Okotcha, Rutherford and Fogden in the last 20 minutes, we came away with a comfortable win before a needed ten days break.
We went to Aldershot with a revitalized and rested team, and it only took 4 minutes before Prior gave us the lead. They equalized right before half-time, but with our strikers, we’re almost sure to score more. A brace from McShane in the second half kept the fantastic form going. Dag & Red was our only game at home this month, and we made sure to win it. Julien Carré gave us the lead with a long shot after just six minutes, before Rutherford secured the win in injury time.
Bromley is a top side and took the lead after just 3 minutes. A red card for Taylor didn’t help us much, and we struggled until Nunn and McShane scored two goals in three minutes. From there on out, everything was about defending our lead.
After 12 unbeaten games, we’re at the top of the table going into October. The media predicted us 23rd, so we have overachieved and shattered the expectations so far.
I’m very optimistic about the season after this start, and hopefully we can fight for a playoff spot as the season goes on.
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