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?
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.
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.