Season 4: Summer Transfers

With our first season in the Vanarama National coming up, I really needed to strengthen the side. I used this promotion to get rid of a lot of deadwood, some with a heavy heart. But it needed to be done.  We had scraped up, with a squad that had only been predicted to finish around mid-table in the Vanarama South. This year, we are 1000-1 to win the title, and favourites to go down. Again I tried to tie down the best young players that I could from the Premier League clubs, but this year I also looked to strengthen using the best players from the division below. We’re favourites to go down, what have I got to lose?


The Outs

As I mentioned, I shifted out a lot of deadwood over the summer. Curtis Young, who I had brought in from Bournemouth in my first season, had only made 6 appearances (5 of which were off the bench) last season, and my change in formation meant that James Waite hadn’t played at all. Adam Bailey-Dennis also left the club. I had brought him in solely as an experienced back up until we got promoted, but even at that level his 3 pace and 5 concentration left me biting my nails whenever the ball went near him.

It was with a heavy heart that I let Lewis Tallack and Danny Clifton go. Tallack had started at the club, even making 15 appearances last year, but he was not good enough to compete with the new centre backs that I had coming in. Danny Clifton won me over in the first season, justifying my signing of him with 8 goals in 18 games. But he netted just 3 more times in 35 games over the next two years, and it was clear he wouldn’t be able to cut it at a higher level.


James Tizzard and Tyler Ruddy were youth players that will never make it, whilst back up keeper Jonathan Miles heads out on loan to Wrexham to get some game time. I also loan out new signing James Inglethorpe, a promising centre back from Southampton.

The Ins

Tzanev Idem comp

We’ll start off in goal, the reason that Jonathan Miles was allowed out on loan. Nick Tzanev (nope, I have no idea how to say that either) has joined on a free from Havant and Waterlooville. The Kiwi has 6 under-20 caps, and will come in as our first choice for this season. It may be a little harsh on Emmanuel Idem, but our number one has been a bit error prone, and I really can’t afford that this season. Tzanev has better positioning, he’s better at one-on-ones and has much better anticipation, so I might deploy a sweeper keeper this year.


In defence I have brought in three new faces, the first of which is right back Mike Schofield. The 19 year old comes in after being released by Chelsea, and his crossing is why he will start over Tyler Cordner. Playing such a narrow formation means that we rely on our full backs to provide width, and Schofield should prove a useful player at both ends of the pitch.


Next up is centre back Harry Hickford. The 23 year old joins from Bishop’s Stortford, his strengths include marking and tackling. His 10 heading could be improved, but his 12 leadership should see he command the defence this season.


Another centre back that joins the club is Regan Upton, who joins from Wealdstone. Upton can play as a centre midfielder and a defensive midfielder, so his versatility will be vital as you can still only name 5 subs in the Vanarama National. At 194cm (about 6ft 4) he gives us an edge in the air both defending and attacking set pieces.


25 year old Josh Carmichael comes in as our ready made deep-lying playmaker. His 11 vision, 13 composure and 12 passing means that he should be able to dictate play from that deeper position. The Scotsman joins on a free from Gosport.


Up front comes target man Matt Roberts. At 192cm, the former Swansea man is a handful in the air, but his 13 acceleration means he’s no slouch either. Roberts also has decent finishing, but it’s his off the ball work that will allow the Irish under-19 international to bring his strike partners in to play.

I have also brought in a few prospects for the future, but they won’t feature too much this year. Matthew Williamson comes in as a centre midfielder (attack) as my yearly signing from Aston Villa, whilst George Canham joins from Chelsea as either a ball-winning midfielder or a centre midfielder (defend).

What’s To Come?

We open the season with a trip to Boreham Wood, who are predicted to finish mid-table. We then welcome relegated Grimsby for our first game at the Killick Arena. Our trip to Torquay at the end of September is the first time we will face another promoted team, so it could be quite a tough start.





Season 3: Summer Transfers

After two years in the Vanarama South, we really need to at least reach the play-offs this season. For the first time, the media predict that we will finish in the top 10, so with the right additions a top 5 finish is possible. I was relatively happy with my squad from last season, but I just needed to strengthen the core of the team to push on that extra bit to get promoted, whilst getting rid of some deadwood.


The Outs

I tried to keep the squad roughly the same as last year, only getting rid of the players that weren’t going to feature at all. With my change in formation, Steve Devlin, who didn’t really feature last season, was not going to get a chance. Last season Devlin made 21 appearances last season, 12 of which were starts, but did not fit in to my narrow 4-3-3 formation, and at 32, it wasn’t worth keeping him around.

Ryan Case also left the club. The right back was unhappy with his lack of involvement last season, having only featured 12 times. With Tyler Cordner and Owen Brown also in his position, it made sense to let him go and not risk him upsetting the rest of the squad.

The third exit was youth player Ray Ingram. I hadn’t planned on releasing him, but the youngster missed training four times after going out the night before. I warned him the first time he missed training, and fined him two weeks wages (a whole £10!) for the next two times. By the fourth time, all within a couple of weeks, I bit the bullet and paid the £20 to release him from his contract. Saying that, he only had 2 star potential, so I really didn’t care that he was gone.

The Ins

With no transfer budget, I would again have to mainly rely on the Premier League academy rejects to strengthen my team. The change in formation also meant that I needed to stock up on Centre Midfielders, as well as adding a Striker or two.


At the back, we brought in Left Back Dominic Thompson from Arsenal. The 18 year old has about the same ability as my current Left Back Louis Hall, so should provide great competition for that position, something that we did not have last year. His main strength is his 14 pace, meaning he will hopefully be able to bomb up and down the wing, providing us with width.


The midfield has seen the most change, with four new additions and one returning face. Our first recruit was Tonbridge’s Charlie Owens. The former Tottenham trainee prefers to play as a Ball-Winning Midfielder, but he can also be used as a Centre Midfielder on Defend. Another player who fits that role is Connor Gallagher, who joins from Chelsea. Gallagher can play as my Centre Midfielder on Defend, but his 13 work rate, 12 leadership, 11 teamwork and 12 longshots make him an ideal Support Midfielder.


The next addition was Welsh Under-19 international Robbie Burton. Like Dominic Thompson, the youngster joins from Arsenal, and he will be the link between the Midfield and the Strikers. Burton plays as a Centre Midfielder on Attack, but can also play as both a Advanced Playmaker or a Deep-Lying Playmaker. Lewis Bryon also comes in, joining from Crystal Palace. The Defensive Midfielder will provide cover for Charlie Owens, whilst also being competent at both Centre Back and Right Back, making him the ideal non-league substitute. The final addition in Midfield was a renewal of Theo Widdrington’s loan from Portsmouth. It is unlikely that he will feature as heavily as he has done in the last two seasons, but his 75 appearances so far for Poole adds some experience as well as more strength and depth in Midfield.



The final addition of the summer is James Daly, a 18 year old Striker from Crystal Palace. Daly is a natural as both a Poacher and an Advanced Forward, whilst also being competent on either wing or as an Attacking Midfielder, should we need to change formation. Daly will probably feature as my Advanced Forward with his 14 pace and 14 acceleration, but his 10 finishing needs to improve.

I did try to bring in another Striker, Matthew Patterson. The 28 year old scored 16 in 31 for Havant & Waterlooville last season, and would add some much needed experience in to my young side, but we didn’t have enough wage budget remaining to add him to the squad.

What’s To Come?

We open the season away to the newly promoted title favourites Dulwich Hamlet. We have to wait for our first game at Victoria Park, as we host last season’s runners up East Thurrock in the third game of the season. The next update will be in November, where we will be looking to match last season’s strong start.


Season 2: Summer Transfers

After a season of consolidation last year, the aim for this season was to push for the play offs. My first issue would be strengthening the side. There was a lot of deadwood that needed moving on, and although I had a strong core of the team, that extra bit of quality was missing. Added to that, the threat of a takeover not only had me worrying for my job, but also meant that I would have a transfer embargo to negotiate over the summer.


As you would expect at this level, we didn’t recoup any money from player sales. A lot of the players released were fringe players last season, with most of them the wrong side of 30. Right back Lewis Lindsay was the one player I did have to think about releasing, but despite his decent potential, he wouldn’t get the football he needed and he had an annoying habit of reminding me about it.

The ins were a lot more eventful. I tried to get a lot of my business done early; I didn’t want to be left scrambling for players at the beginning of the season after the transfer embargo that would come with the rumoured takeover.

I spent my pre-season scouting all the youngsters released from Premier League and Championship clubs, and that resulted in 7 new signings. To replace the departing Nick Hutchings, two young keepers came in. 18 year old Emmanuel Idem joined the club from Aston Villa, with 24 year old Jonathan Miles joining from last season’s champions Ebbsfleet as his understudy.

In defence, Louis Hall was another recruit from Villa. Hall is an 18 year old left back with the potential to be a star Vanarama National defender. His high(ish) level of determination and potential means that I’ve made him our new Vice Captain. On the opposite side of the defence, Tyler Cordner, also 18, joined from Bournemouth.


Our raid from Dean Court hadn’t finished there, with centre midfielder Curtis Young, 19, coming in as our first choice Centre Midfielder (Support). Young would replace Theo Widdrington, who we had managed to loan for a second season from Portsmouth. James Granger, our first choice Ball Winning Midfielder/Centre Midfield (Defend) also renewed his year-long loan from Eastleigh.

Abdulai Bell-Baggie was our only winger of any real quality. Steve Devlin’s late season form had earned him another year with us, but he shouldn’t be any more than a squad player if we are looking for promotion. Former Cardiff youngster James Waite is a natural on both flanks, and offers a bit more quality than Devlin. 22 year old striker Joe Parker came in from Gloucester to back up Danny Clifton and Lewis Gill.

Then came the frustration of the next two months. A long drawn out takeover meant that we couldn’t bring in anyone else until late August, a few weeks after the season had begun. I only added two new players. Harvey Knibbs continued the transition of Poole becoming ‘Aston Villa B’, and 27 year old centre back Adam Bailey-Dennis added some much needed experience to our young team.


Knibbs’ 13 finishing is incredible for non-league football, and coupled with 13 pace and 13 acceleration he could make for a formidable striker, either as a a poacher or an advanced forward. Adam Bailey-Dennis, on the other hand, is just a giant. Standing at 194cm (roughly 6ft 4in), with 18 jumping reach and 16 strength means that nothing will go over the top of him, and 15 determination means that he is an excellent tutoring candidate for my other young centre backs. Obviously his 3 pace is not ideal, but playing a deeper line or playing a quick centre back on ‘cover’ should counteract this.

Overall I’m pretty happy with my squad overall. We have real strength and depth throughout the core of the team and have brought in a number of players who have the potential to play at a higher level. My only concern is my wingers, as having only three senior wingers in the squad could be a risk should injuries hit or if form declines.

The next update will track our progress through to November. Can we push for the play offs or am I expecting too much from my inexperienced side?