Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Merry-go-round Continues

Carden has been speaking to the BBC about his decision, but rather than live in the past Brian Little has been rather busy himself. The protracted Tom Kearney saga has finally ended with him signing on, and if the rumour mill is to be believed Weymouth's Kyle Critchley and Paolo Vernazza and Woking's Guiseppe Soleare on the way!

Monday, 23 June 2008

So it's true!

Looks like Carden's on his way to Cambridge. With McEvilly already there, it looks like we've got our first Conference rivalry!!

It'll be interesting to see if the club sits tight over this-we might find out what a pre-contract's actually worth!

There are cases of clubs successfully suing for compensation over a player reneging on a pre-contract, but I'm struugling to find circumstances which are exactly the same. The Fran Merida case suggests that a pre-contract is worth something, but the £2million compensation seems to be down to the fact that Barcelona paid for his development as a youth player and the fact that he has potential to improve, neither of which scenarios apply to Carden obviously!

It looks like Morton midfielder Chris Millar signed a pre-contract to go to St Johnstone, but changed his mind and stayed put last month, and there don't seem to have been any repercussions. Also, AZ Alkmaar's attempt to hijack Afonso Alves' move to Middlesbrough fell through; apparently in that case the pre-contract was ruled invalid as Alves' advisors weren't present when it was signed.

Not sure where all that leaves us, but I can't believe we'll be seeing Carden in a Wrexham shirt unless Cambridge, who are cutting costs dramatically, baulk at a possible compensation payment. If that happens, though, would we want a disaffected player in our ranks?

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Carden's Deal Not Assured?

So is Paul Carden about to be whisked away from us, denying Brian Little of a key part of his restructured side and forcing him to reassess his plans? According to today's edition of the Non League Paper (there's no link for the moment-they don't put it online until later in the week) they say that Cambridge are expected to name Southport's boss Gary Brabin as their new manager, and Carden, who is a friend of Brabin, is in line to be assistant.

Okay, we have a pre-contract agreement, but any deal can be torn up if the circumstances are right. Let's hope this is just paper talk though; the story does have a scatter-gun feel to it, even though their line is that Brabin will be appointed. There are other possible candidates explored, and Carden is not described as a shoo-in, but apparently United "sounded out Brabin about taking over, with his friend Paul Carden" (the quote has to end there as, frustratingly, there's a typo-the story switches to an inner page and a mistake means it pretty much ends there apart from seeming to suggest that appointing Carden would be a way of saving on an assistant manager's salary for a club which is embarking on what looks like a self-destructive cost-cutting exercise.)
Losing Carden would blow a big hole in Little's plans. It's no coincidence, I feel, that Carden was his first signing, and having released Danny Williams and Neil Roberts we need to import experience in the centre of the pitch. If Little is lining up a midfield of Carden and Tom Kearney, who is in limbo as we wait to see if Halifax will decide to defy logic and fight liquidation, then he might have to take emergency action soon. He seems to have acted swiftly to ensure they were in place, yet he might not have either of them.

The Jones Enigma

Good luck to Mark Jones if his move to Peterborough materialises. There have been many disappointments over the last few years, but our failure to see the likes of Jones and Matty Done fulfil their potential with us is right up there.

Jones developed from a frail youth into a fine goalscoring midfield, but then like a flash of gunpowder it was gone and a player who clearly depended on his confidence to perform fell into a self-fulfilling tailspin of poor form.

You can see why John Toshack and Darren Ferguson have faith in him though. It's a common impulse in managers; indeed probably in mankind. The desire to show that you can achieve something no-one else has managed. It's what inspires managers to take jobs like Man City or Newcastle, figuring that eventually someone will unlock their potential, and it will be them.

You can see why a manager would see glimpses of Jones' undeniable talent and decide to try to make the most of it. I hope for Jones' sake that whoever takes him under his wing succeeds as he's as genuine a lad as I've ever met in football.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The New Done

The signing of Shaun Whalley from Accrington certainly suggests that Brian Little doesn't let the grass grow under his feet! No sooner had Matty Done departed than a replacement is sorted, and from what I've seen of him it looks like a decent move! Bearing in mind what I said about Done;s lack of end product yesterday, it's encouraging that we've brought in a guy who scored a beauty and set one up superbly against us last season (embarrassing Steve Evans in the process as he turned him and sprinted of into the distance!)
On the other hand, clubs have a habit of signing players who did well against them only to find it was the only time they'd performed like that this season. I believe it's called Graham Cooper Syndrome-Ricky Shakes might become our second case of the Summer!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Done Gone

I'm not going to pretend I wasn't disappointed that Matty Done didn't sign a new contract for us, although it wasn't much of a surprise bearing in mind the time the decision was taking and a crytpic comment from Brian Little last week which implied he wasn't holding his breath over a deal. I think he could have been a real force in The Conference with his pace and direct approach.

However, there is another side to the argument and, though I'm not totally convinced by it, I'm going to trot it out, if only to try to convince myself that this isn't as bad a blow as it's starting to feel. Done hasn't scored since we knocked Sheffield Wednesday out of the League Cup at the start of the 2006-7 season, and hasn't had all that many assists since then either. His pace and the width he offers can really stretch a side; I particularly recall his impact as a sub in a number of games, particularly in the win at Bristol Rovers when Brian Carey's side battled their way to safety. However, the bald stats tend to suggest there wasn't enough end product from him. He's still young and will surely improve on this, but maybe we shoudl draw small consolation from the fact that Little might be able to bring in a more finished article for next season.

It all puts his effereverscent early impact at Hereford at the end of last season into a different context though, doesn't it?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Conference Won't Let Us Mess Around

The Non League Paper carried a story on its front page yesterday which could have repercussions for us in the near future. Bearing in mind our reluctance to file our accounts, the fact that they intend to compel clubs to regularly disclose their financial information, with particular emphasis on any debt to the Inland Revenue, could be a timebomb for us. Remember, this is a body which isn't scared of relegating clubs if they don't meet their strict fiscal regulations-just ask Halifax, Nuneaton and Boston, who were relegated for failing to exist a CVA by the deadline, even though they did it within a week of that date.

The Conference cut you no slack, and we seem to have a culture of relying on being allowed just that. Despite the noise Brian Mawhinney makes, the Football League is a cosy boys' club that isn't averse to playing favourites and turning a blind eye to clubs that exploit loopholes. Don't expect that to apply in The Conference.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Louis Arrival to Drive Hope Out?

So how do you convince a player who you're desperate to offload that he should walk away rather than sit on his contract and draw an extra year's salary out of you? Well, you could always sign a player who has recently given him nightmares!

I recall Jefferson Louis as a big, awkward target man, limited in movement but nontheless capable of bamboozling Richard Hope. Hope spent the game against Mansfield at The Racecourse trying to haul him to the floor in the box, incapable of finding another way of dealing with a big lump of a striker, but for some reason the referee turned a blind eye. Karma would get us in the crucial return game when Town took the lead through a penalty conceded when Gareth Evans was blatantly pushed onto the ball. And who scored the penalty? Step forward Mister Louis!

As you can see from this Times article, he has certainly experienced a few things in his life. Richard Hope's close attentions would hardly register.

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