The Transfer Window
I’m getting used to the pattern by now; We overachieve, and bigger and better clubs want our best players.
Those are the mechanisms in football and the world we live in. We’re growing as a club year by year, but we have to realize that we’re nowhere near the best or the next best clubs yet.
The most significant difference from the previous seasons is that we’re now dealing with Premier League clubs when selling some of our players. That means there are more considerable fees and more money involved. And with more money comes a more significant responsibility to handle them well. The players that left us this summer played 627 league matches for us, so we lost some crucial players by various reasons.
- Louis Flower – Luton – £775K
- Patrick Zito – Holstein Kiel – Free
- Lewis Hall – Leeds – £5.25M(£7.5M)
- Dominic Rogerson – Sheff Wed – £925K
- Bobby-Joe Taylor – Released
- Alfie Rutherford – Released
- Jason Prior – Retired
As you can see, some of our most important players in the last seasons now left the club. Our all-time top scorer, Jason Prior, retires and joins the U18s staff. Likewise, Alfie Rutherford and Bobby-Joe Taylor are no longer good enough to play for us, and it felt better to release them than keep them at the club and demand money. I hope they both succeed at their new clubs, and they deserve a big thank you for playing an instrumental part in our promotions so far.
Lewis Hall had a decent season for us last year and cemented his place in the team’s last half of the season. I’m happy to send him to the Premier League with the kind of money Leeds pays us for his services. Hopefully, he becomes a success there, as we will get 20% of the profit from the next sale. Our transfer record is officially doubled.
Dominic Rogerson grew more and more impatient and dissatisfied with me over the summer because I rejected bids on him. Finally, on deadline day, I decided to meet his requirements and accept an offer from Sheff Wed. I had his replacement ready, but more on that later on.
Louis Flower is what I will call a flop, even if he came in for free. He didn’t deliver more than three goals in 28 league games, and we’ll cash in on him while we can.
- Jeff Oakes – Man Utd – Free
- Harvey Grand – Man City – Free
- Derrick Abu – Chelsea – Free
- Nile John – Tottenham – Free
- Harvey Vale – Chelsea – Free
- Oakley Cannonier – York – £350K
- Lucas Smith – Arsenal – Free
- Nohan Kenneh – Fulham – £130K
- Sadok Salhi – Arsenal – Free
- Stefan Parkes – Fulham – Free
- Marcus Dewhurst – Free transfer
As you can see, we made a significant profit on transfers, but we also spent some money this year. Oakley Cannonier comes in for a record fee for the club and will bring much-needed pace to our attack. I scouted and considered several other options, but I wasn’t comfortable spending more money than we spent on Cannonier.
Bringing in Nile John and Harvey Vale on a free is what I will call a steal at this level. They will both go straight into the starting eleven and will immediately improve the quality of the team. The same goes for Nohan Kenneh, who was transfer-listed at Fulham after a good season on loan at Leyton Orient in League Two last year. He comes to us with 80 games in League Two and a good experience from senior football. He will mainly play on the left in the back three, and probably some games as DM when rotation is needed.
Lucas Smith will also go directly into the first-team squad and back up in the defence. It strengthens the overall quality, and he seems to have the potential to grow.
When Rogerson wanted to leave, I wanted to hand Aaron Maguire the role as the first choice after three seasons as a backup. After a bit back and forth, I landed on getting in a new keeper as Maguire doesn’t have the quality needed yet. So when Marcus Dewhurst‘ agent approached us and proposed a deal could be made, I was never in doubt. He’s in a good age, reasonably cheap, and a modern keeper that’s good with his feet. He’s already a good keeper in League One and still has room to develop further.
Stefan Parkes and Derrick Abu were brought in on one-year deals with the U23’s and will probably get limited or no playing time with the first team.
Jeff Oakes, Harvey Grand and Sadok Salhi are considerable talents at our level but not yet ready for first-team football. This season, they will play with the U18s/U23s and maybe get sent out on loan if the right offer comes in.
All in all, we lost some crucial players and faces in the squad, but we got real quality in. I feel I managed to strengthen the team and we have real potential to finish higher than last season.
We opened the season away at Oxford, and the first half was a quiet one. In the second half, Edwin Andersson scored our first of the season. Conor McAvoy was unlucky to tie the game with an own goal just minutes later. A beautiful cross from Matt Craig found Harvey Vale’s head in the 70th minute and won us the game. Great debut from Vale!
Against Notts Co, we dominated the whole game but was unlucky in front of goal. 12 – 1 in shots on target says it all. However, it wasn’t before we got a free kick in the 76th minute we scored, with Vale curling it in. Two in two from Vale!
The game against Forest Green had it all except points for us. Andersson gave us the lead five minutes before half-time, and it all looked good for us going into the second half. Twelve minutes later, the game was a turnaround, and we were trailing 1-2. Oakley Cannonier got disallowed in a questionable offside halfway through the half. 3-1 came in the 75th minute, and I decided to bring Daniel Gore on. Two minutes later, he scored, eight minutes later, he got booked, and 15 minutes later, he got sent off. What a guy…
We had to rotate a little against Cheltenham after a tough cup game days earlier. Gore served his suspension in the cup game and was back in the team this time. Unfortunately, in the 33rd minute, we conceded after dominating until then. Three minutes later, Gore found Cannonier, who scored his first league goal for us. One minute into the extra time, he scored again, and two minutes into the extra time, he completed his hattrick after another assist from Gore.
In the second half, we continued to create chances, and Gore scored the game’s last goal after a beautiful play where all the offensive players were involved. Barca, can you hear me?!
Gore was awarded young player of the month after two goals and two assists in three games. Cannonier and Vale got the other to places and completed an excellent start to the season for us.
Our never say die attitude came to show again against AFC Wimbledon when we never gave up, and Cannonier tied the game in the 93rd minute to secure us a point. You’ve got to love it!
In the next game against Swindon, Cannonier scored again and won us the game.
When Burton visited, Cannonier proved his value again with a first-half hattrick.
In the last game of September away to Morecambe, the game’s only goal was scored by… Cannonier. What a player. He singlehandedly got us ten points this month, with six goals in four games.
That was only good enough to get second in the player of the month award, but at least he won the young player of the month. He deserves all the praise he can get after a month like that!
Against Bristol Rovers, we conceded early and got Ryan Alebiosu sent off early in the second half. To be honest, we deserved to lose this game, but Cannonier wanted it different. A long pass from Ibrahima Sy found Cannonier through on goal, and he saved our honour with that goal.
Dominic Rogerson saved three of three penalties in the penalty shootout and won us the game on penalties as he does in August every year.
Against Watford, I decided to drop Rogerson as his complaining came to a maximum. Maguire did an excellent job in the first half, and we held on to the break. The last thing that happened before halftime was Matt Craig being sent off. With ten men in the second half, Watford was too strong. No surprise in the Carabao Cup this year.
Papa John’s Trophy
Against Oxford, we had five players from the academy featuring, plus Maguire, who’s been here long enough to be trained at the club. Not a great result, but we had higher xG and more shots than them, so there’s proof that we are going forward and getting higher quality into our academy and first-team squad.
This summer, Christon Stephen became our first full international player from the academy when he got his debut for Grenada. They’re 149th in the FIFA ranking, but he plays international football, and that’s something to be proud of. Stephen got his debut for Grenada before he got his debut for us. He also scored his first international goal and became Grenada’s youngest ever goalscorer at 17.
In addition to Stephen, Denzel Hopkins also got his debut for us this season when he was involved from the bench against Oxford in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Hopkins has also been called up and got his debut for Ireland U18’s with Florian Fink from the academy. Five players from the academy have played international football so far this season, which I’m proud of.
The improvement to the youth facilities is still in progress and is estimated to be completed in January 2026. Hopefully, that will take us a big step in the right direction as our youth facilities are only adequate now. However, our junior coaching is now exceptional, and our recruitment is good. That gives me hope that we will see more quality and potential in the youth intake later this season.