Welcome to season three where I am still manager of TS Sport FC. In a nutshell we won the domestic double last season……… the Buildbase FA Trophy and the Vanarama National League North.
As the close of season two beaconed I had noticed the email inbox beginning to increase in size. With requests to purchase several different players. From Burnley asking about Billy Bose, Sheffield Wednesday asking about Micky Inchcliffe, Blackburn trying to unsettle Lee Sticks and Celtic wanting Johnny Starr.
As I picked through the requests my immediate reaction was to flat line reject every single request and offer. Why you might ask? We had just won two promotions on the bounce, we were about to venture forward into life in the Vanarama National League (the highest stage the club had ever competed). And with such newness I thought why I would I want to break up the base of what we had been playing with.
It had dawned on me that if I looked closely enough at who was wanted. And then sorted out if those who were wanted, wanted out. Then we could make the right deals for the player, the club and the first team.
How do I mean?
Well first off, the player. If Joe Bloggs wants out of a small club because of an offer from a big club why would I stand in his way of a “dream” move?
The Club, if we could wager a good deal in an out going transfer, the money would then go back into developing several aspects of the club.
The first Team, If Joe Bloggs is a mardy bum that could effect the morale of the camp. Or with Joe Bloggs gone Youngster A could then get a game and develop quicker than if he was just playing in the under 23’s.
Armed with a few notes I marked three players that I believed could leave if any of the above aspects rang true to the club. Those players being Goalkeeper Jamie John, Central midfielder Mickey Inchcliffe, and Right Winger Johnny Starr.
How did I get it down to the three?
With Jamie John, I felt there needed to be a shift out for a goalkeeper. I believed game time would end up being short for one of either Stewart Longshaft or Jamie John. Jamie being the elder of the two I thought he would have more saleability.
The interest in Jamie was mainly from a distance. But then Oxford and Cheltenham put offers in of around £5k. I felt insulted that they would only offer face value. I declined the offers. Upset that he would not get to join a league club Jamie demanded a meeting. I met up with the lad and told him he could go but I would not accept any offer that I though was below his worth. Jamie twisted his knickers over my comment and said he would look to cause havoc in the camp if he did not get his move. I then said “Fine! You can have your move! I’m not having this behaviour in my camp.”
I then declined the next few offers Oxford and Cheltenham provided just to spite the boy, he then came back and said “He’d be willing to stay if we were willing to offer him a new contract” I turned round to him in the canteen and said “You wanted out, you can leave because I am not accepting your request of a new contract”. I then accepted the very next offer regardless of its value. Vitesse of Holland came in with a bid of £6.25k with some small add on’s and the promise of 30% of profit from his next transfer. CerrrrrChing!
Henry Harness then became very unsettled despite only weeks earlier accepting a new £3000 p/w contract putting him up with the big earners of the club. Henry had interest in him from a host of Championship and Premier League clubs but none of the clubs were willing to accept over value of the boy. Henry became disappointed that we would not let him go. So, when Arsenal approached us for a week-long trial. I thought, we can give him the trial and see what happens. He went out still a few strides behind the pack with preseason training. He came back happy, fitter and no one seemed interested. And with the dwindled interest Henry soon declared himself happy at the club again.
Then came there was the transfer saga of the summer. Johnny Starr to Celtic. Celtic would offer, I would propose a revised amount. Celtic would then offer slightly more, and I would relay the same revised amount. This merry go round would happen although summer but as Celtic tabled bids other clubs from England and France would table bids. Everton joined the chase, Blackburn and Crystal Palace. I must admit I was starting to think a deal would never be found. When Crystal Palace then offered half of the value I wanted, plus add ons. That would total up to the value I wanted. I accepted. And once the news had broken that we had accepted a bid, Blackburn and Huddersfield came in with their own counter offers. Huddersfield were the only team to throw the full value at us. And boy did we rub our hands together. We accepted the bid of £1.3m and 10% of the next transfer fee.
What happened to Inchcliffe? He is still at the club. He was happy to stay and would have been happy to leave if Sheffield Wednesday had met our valuation. In the end I felt I needed to keep him to maintain healthy competition in that position.
We also sold Ross Finnie for £20k to Stockport. And unhappy left back George Cox was allowed to leave for Colchester for £100k.
The In’s. The first two players to join us were young players from Manchester City and United respectively. Wright-Phillips and Helm joined as out of contract players on a low risk contract for 12 months. My hope is that they can provide cover/competition in midfield.
Wright-Phillips is a very quick winger with a good cross on him, however he lacks consistency in his game, so he and Robert Pheasant will need to fight for the back up slot to Lee Sticks.
Mark Helm is an energetic central midfielder who again will need to find his feet quickly to gain game time to battle for the three midfield positions we generally have available in the first team.
Tyler Denton is a left back who had left Leeds United after the end of his contract. Tyler impressed on his trial, he provided an assist and scored on his debut. Let’s hope the debut was not a fluke!
Nathan Holland is a right winger that we have loaned from parent affiliate West Ham for the season. I have not promised him/West ham much game time but if he can cover the gaps when we do start to get “those” injuries then Holland will be a valuable loan signing.
Our last signing was central midfielder Liam Walsh. We had Liam on trial for three weeks. And he played in two matches, in both matches he seemed to struggle. I put that down to fitness. With Liam informing me that Tranmere had put a contract in front of him, I got Dave to quickly draft a contract and BOOOOOOOM! We sealed a deal.
Join me next time when I summarise our 2020/21 campaign.