The takeover went through, no tycoon or any extra money, just a ‘continue as before’ from the new owners.
At the end of last season, we’d confirmed the signing of Miguel Luis from Sporting. As things go, that was a painless exercise, and one that was surprising in how quick and easy it went. However, with a takeover looming, it was a priority to get the proverbial net thrown out and strengthen areas which I felt we had been lacking last season.
One of those was our attacking presence. Whilst Liam Mandeville had been on loan at League Two Colchester, John Marquis, Alfie May and Andrew Williams were holding the line up front.
Williams had contributed 7 goals in 30 appearances, of which, 11 of those had been off the bench, which, I felt, for a loan striker, wasn’t really what I wanted. His contract expired at the end of the season, and, he was allowed to leave, freeing up a bit of money to spend on strengthening the front line.
Marquis chipped in with 10 goals from 38, again, slightly down on what I feel a striker should contribute, however, he has 2 years remaining on a rather hefty contract (£3k per week until 2020), so, I’ll be looking to move him on if a replacement became available.
Alfie May, the 3rd choice contributed 5 goals from 32 appearances (24 from the subs bench), but, he had been playing on the wing for a proportion of those appearances, especially when I first arrived as manager. His contract has a year to run, and a lot depends on how he performs this season, as to whether he gets his extension.
In terms of replacements, we didn’t have a transfer budget, so, with free transfers and loans available, a move was made to secure Spurs youngster Kazaiah Sterling on loan for the season. He’d scored 6 goals in 14 for a Plymouth side that got relegated from League One last season, so, hopefully, he could recreate that sort of scoring rate with us.
Also coming in was Adam Davie, on a free from Derby. At 18 years old, he is definitely one for the future, and scouting reports suggested that he would be the best striker at the club a few years along. Along with Davie, Sameron Dool, a former West Brom trainee signed (at the end of the previous season), again, as a development project with the intention of giving him some match time later in the season.
Moving back into midfield, the decision was made to release Tommy Rowe. Again, he was on a large wage, and sacrifices have to be made, and whilst his versatility and leadership will be missed, I could spend his wages on a couple of other players.
Once more, my data analyst came up trumps, providing information on a 24 year old Burkinabe/French midfielder, Abdoul Kaboré who could play the defensive midfield role, his contract was expiring, and once again, discussions proved fruitful, and he signed, initially on a 1 year deal.
Also available was the Bolton midfielder Jeff King. He’d popped up on scout reports as one to watch, and once it was noticed that he wasn’t going to be kept on at Bolton, an offer was made, and he joined on a free.
With the signings in the centre of midfield completed, another name that popped up on the released lists from Premier League clubs, was Belgian winger Indy Boonen, He’d come through the academy at Manchester United, and didn’t want massive wages, so he was picked up. He can play either side, preferring the left wing, so, will provide an option throughout the season.
Defence wise, Matheiu Baudry was allowed to leave, mainly for the same reasons as Williams and Rowe, and his departure would allow a little bit of leeway to improve.
Luke McCullough had returned from a cruciate knee ligament injury at the end of the season, and was being nursed through preseason to prevent a recurrence, so he would be first choice when available.
Miles Addison had joined on a free transfer post transfer window, and would provide a decent option from the bench, alongside Andy Butler, who is coming to the end of his playing career. This meant that I had to find a centre half, so, once again, throwing the net wide, 22 year old Sid Nelson was picked up on a free from Millwall. He’d come through the youth setup at The New Den, and played games in the Championship and League One for them, however, he’d spent 18 months out on loan in League Two, at Newport and Chesterfield.
Whilst the level he played at wasn’t at the same as our club, the statistics showed that he was the best option for the price to pay, and, once again, we moved for him.
Another defensive player to come in was Sam Wardrop, a 20 year old Scottish full back/centre back, who had come through the Celtic setup. He was scouted several times, and once again, was picked up on a fairly cheap contract.
Lastly, in goal, Ian Lawlor and Marko Marosi had done well last season, especially when the defence had gone missing, however, I wanted a goalkeeper comfortable at starting attacking moves, and operating as a sweeper keeper. The reports indicated that Lukas Raeder, a German keeper at Bradford was a decent option, and again, available on a free transfer, so, he was acquired.
All in all, 8 signings have been made so far, and 1 loan.