Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Summer silly season


With a week to go until the start of pre-season training, 17 days until the first friendly at Evesham and about six weeks until Dagenham and Redbridge come calling, the silly season is in full swing.
After the dust settled on the Wembley defeat, we said farewell to Josh Low, Junior Smikle and Theo Lewis, as well as our loanees Jimmy Spencer and Luke Garbutt.
The next focus was on the out of contract players, with Scott Brown and Keith Lowe signing for two years, with Harry Hooman, Bags Graham and Jeff Goulding staying for another 12 months and Alan Bennett invoking his 12-month appearance clause.
It was good work by Yatesy to get them all signed up, but he was unable to persuade Luke Summerfield to give it another go next season, as he opted for a move to Shrewsbury in League One.
As usual, some fans have taken his decision badly, accusing him of disloyalty after we 'rescued his career' last summer, apparently.
Not sure I would go that far, but we did give him a contract and he repaid us with some excellent displays and goals last season, but with his deal running out he is quite within his rights to have a look around.
Football is a short career - you are a long time retired, as I remember John Finnigan saying to me once - and Luke owes it to himself to spend as much of that time as he can playing at as high a level as he can.
He came to us having played in the Championship and League One for most of his previous career and it is good to see on Twitter that most CTFC fans have wished him and fiancee Heidi all the best.
But now we move on, and we start to wonder about Yatesy's summer recruitment, which is yet to start.
We are into July, and some are starting to get a bit twitchy as we have yet to add to our squad, which currently looks like this:
Goalkeeper: Scott Brown
Defenders: Sido Jombati, Keith Lowe, Alan Bennett, Harry Hooman, Steve Elliott, Danny Andrew (available on a free).
Midfielders: Russ Penn, Marlon Pack, Jermaine McGlashan, Bags Graham, Kaid Mohamed.
Forwards: Jeff Goulding, Darryl Duffy.
So we currently have 14 players (including Danny Andrew) and with Yatesy saying he wants 22 or 23 for the big kick-off, there is much work to be done and players to be signed in the coming weeks.
As I said, some are becoming a bit twitchy, but bear in mind that everything, including the start of training and the season itself, is two weeks later this year because of London 2012 - and players' deals did not end until last weekend, so players signed before then incur an extra cost.
Some clubs (Rotherham and Fleetwood especially) have done their shopping early, and seeing clubs like Southend, Burton and Aldershot also entering the market will leave people wondering if we are being left behind.
But we know that all the perceived best players have not gone.
Last summer, it was very late when Alan Bennett, Darryl Duffy and Luke Summerfield were signed, so there is still lots of time for rabbits to be plucked from hats by master magicians Yates and Howarth.
So where are they going to be looking to add to the squad?
A goalkeeper obviously - hopefully the next Jack Butland. Then, a left-back as Danny Andrew seems to be surplus to requirements.
Defensively, that would be it for me, leaving us with six - four of whom can play at centre back, Sido and Keith Lowe for right back and the new man plus Sido covering the left side.
In midfield, we need a replacement for Summers and I think also one more central player as we have lost Theo and Dave Bird, plus Junior from that area.
Out wide, I would like to see a right-sided wide man as competition for Jermaine, but we need to trust Bags on the left to backup Mo.
Up front we need two strikers, one of whom is ideally a Ben Burgess-style player.
So that makes seven players, which would take us (minus Danny) to 20, then Mark may look at a couple of long-term loans to supplement the numbers further.
As usual, the rumour mill has been strong, with names bandied about from the plausible (Anthony Straker), to the possible (Christian Ribeiro), the far-fetched (Alex Bruce) to the downright ridiculous (Kheli Dube, a Zimbabwean striker playing for Chicago Fire).
The good old PFA transfer list (http://www.thepfa.com/transferlist) has plenty of decent players still looking for clubs, and here are a few names which may, or may not, float your boat as potential Rubies (or whatever colour the new kit is).

Scott McGleish
Dean Morgan
Kenny Lunt
Mark Hughes
Sam Deering
Christian Ribeiro
Jos Labadie
Martin Devaney
Ryan Green
Lee Cook
David Clarkson
Stuart Nelson
Keiran Djilali
Jon Macken
Arron Davies
Anthony McNamee
Karl Hawley

There, that's a few names that jumped out at me from the PFA list - I don't expect any of them to sign for us,  as some of them will be out our reach wages-wise, geographically and will not want to drop to League Two, but it does show the calibre of player which is out there.
Bear in mind also, that last summer arguably two of the most successful signings, Sido and Mo, were from left-field and one became player of the year and the other was our joint-top League Two goalscorer.
Just remember, it is still early July. The fun has yet to begin.