It’s that time of year again. The time of year when players begin to worry about where the next contract is coming from. We’ve already seen this displayed in interviews by two of the current crop at City, firstly Kevin Ellison and then latterly Jon Worthington.
What makes it worse for City this year though, is the obvious lack of a permanent manager and any forward planning. The club are back to square one when they waited and waited to appoint McCall in 2007 leaving us with a scratch squad for the season. Messrs Lawn and Rhodes have left the club in the perilous position of having no one to properly plan ahead for next. It is clear that Worthington’s press release was nothing but a bit of back scratching for the current incumbent of the manager’s post. If Jackson stays on, expect Worthington to sign up and be made captain. Immediately. I wouldn’t be particularly averse to that outcome; Worthington is a decent player at this level and the type of scrapper that the team needs to be built around.
Unfortunately, for whoever is the next permanent manager, not that many players are out of contract this summer. Which makes it all the more important that a full time manager is appointed sooner rather than later, enabling him to begin the process of moving any players who he doesn’t want to keep are on.
All of which brings us nicely onto who is worthy of a place at City next season. In between the sticks, I think McLaughlin is more than adequate at this level and with another years experience under his belt, he will be fine. Pidgeley can go, though.
The back four is pretty solid. Looking at the stats this year, despite being in the lower half they make reasonable reading. In fact, City have only shipped 7 more goals than Chesterfield, who are running away with the league. Shane Duff should be released though, having spent more time injured than on the pitch, and despite being arguably the best right back in League Two, Simon Ramsden who has appeared for just 180 minutes this season, needs to prove his fitness. Luke Oliver comes in for a lot of unjust stick in my opinion, most likely due to his relationship with the previous manager, but a new signing; a horrible git ala Guy Branston alongside him would see City with arguably one of the best defences in the league. Certainly more than good enough to compete.
Midfield is where the inevitable savings are going to be made. Peter Taylor ensured his squad was top heavy with central midfielders. Doherty, Flynn, Worthington, Bullock, Syers, Adeyemi all capable of playing in the middle of midfield. Bullock can go, Adeyemi on loan will be gone, and it is likely that Doherty, despite being technically the best player at the club by a country mile, will be gone due to his high wages. Most likely being reunited with the man his team mates ridicule him for being his ‘Daddy’ – that being wherever Taylor turns up next. Pick two from the three of Worthington, Syers and Flynn, added with a couple of wide men should see the midfield competitive next year too.
Up front City only have one striker worth anything - Hanson. Speight can go, Dobie on loan will be gone, Evans is useless and Chilaka – well what is the point in him being at the club? It is here where the manager will have to be resourceful. Unfortunately this is the area of the team needing most improvement. With the impending cuts in playing budget, releasing all these players will still see the club struggling for cash, and it is likely that there will be some loanees here. City have struggled in recent years with loanees, but they can work, as proven by Cody McDonald at Gillingham.
Whatever the outcome of the annual merry-go-round though, the new manager has a hell of a job on trying to reshape this squad. With the Valley Parade crowd sick of the decade of decline, I do not envy him in trying to turn around this stricken club.