Here we go again. The dust has now settled on a weekend of toasts, applause and rumours. The non-league season has finally drawn to a close as York lifted the FA Trophy ahead of their relegation to the National League North, and from now until August the focus is on players, and which ones are we going to sign?
The biggest news from the weekend was the transfer-listing of former loan player Billy Knott. In the immediate aftermath of the news breaking I expected to see another headline ‘Knott joins Stags’, but as that hasn’t happened yet I think it is reasonable to assume that we may have a chance. Billy Knott won’t come cheap, any transfer fee would be likely to come close to our club record, and any wages he required would be likely to move him into the top-earner bracket.
He would, of course, be worth every penny. He was a player who showed more talent as the season progressed, and he was crucial in the run in, weighing in with two assists and one goal. The more he played, the more that pedigree showed. As a former Chelsea and Sunderland youth player he has been schooled the right way, and we may want to attack next season with hungry players from the non-league, but we’ll need some composure and class too. Billy Knott would be a superb signing for Lincoln, unfortunately scouts across League One and Two might feel he’d be a super signing for them too. We have to hope that his strong relationship with Danny and Nicky brings about a season or two in red and white.
The Gillingham list had a couple of other recognisable names on it too, the main one being Chris Herd. He joined us on loan back in 2009/10 as Chris Sutton ‘saved’ us from relegation. The truth was he took over with us outside the play-offs and he guided us to eventual safety. Davide Somma’s goals were the reason, but the industry and pace of young Chris Herd helped. That said his drop down the leagues is now almost completed having been not only at Gillingham but also Chesterfield. At 28 he might (I said might) represent a half-decent squad player, but I don’t think Danny will be signing squad players unless they’re under 21.
I was interested to see Rory Donnelly and Ollie Muldoon released as well. Donnelly looked to have big future ahead of him after a successful spell at Cliftonville in Ireland. 13 goals in 18 games had the likes of Arsenal watching him, but when it came to laying money on the table only Swansea and Everton came through. It is suggested the fee was around £200k, but with his arrival at the Liberty Stadium came a goal drought. He only played twice, once as a sub against Petrolul Ploiesti, of Adrian Patulea fame. I think Donnelly is ripe for League Two football, but there may be questions over his personality. He left Coventry after a short spell for ‘non-football personal reasons’, and on April 28th this season he was suspended by Gillingham prior to his release. There are goals here though, and a lot of potential with the player still only being 25.
Ollie Muldoon is another interesting one. He’s a six-foot central midfielder who spent time on loan at Braintree this season, scoring three goals. He may have been released by Gillingham, but he’s been schooled by Charlton Athletic and enjoy a spell of regular football in 2015/16 with Dagenham and Redbridge. He’s young too, only 22 and he is another player who looks ripe for a spell in League Two. It is interesting most retained lists feature older players, but Gillingham seem to be clearing out their youth. If only we knew a team that needed some competitive 19-22 year old player?
Without waxing lyrical about the players released by Gillingham I’d like to end on Emmanuel Osadebe. He’s a 20-year old Irish Nigerian who joined the Gills from Spurs College Foundation Programme after being spotted on the books of Dundalk. As with Billy Knott, he has fallen out of favour with Adrian Pennock, and he fired a parting shot over Twitter by saying: “Enjoyed and learned a lot over my two years at Gills, well one and a half lol. Thankful to all the fans who have been in support of me from the start. Shared some great moments and will forever be thankful to the loyal fans. Only the beginning and happy with God’s plan.”
Last year he won their Goal of the Season competition with a wonderful solo effort against Bury, and this season he added to his promising start by making 31 appearances in midfield. He’s now looking for another club, and with youth on his side but League One experience in his locker, he could be a valuable squad addition.
The main prize would be Billy Knott, a proper footballer who is both composed and calm but also has a range of passing the belies his League One status. If he were to put pen to paper it would signal a real coup, and it would send a message loud and clear to moneybags Mansfield or veritable giants of this level Coventry City. Bringing in Billy Knott full-time would be like unfurling a 50ft banner with the words ‘its serious now, bitches’ and hanging it over every major motorway bridge from Carlisle to Swindon and back again.
Signing Donnelly, Muldoon or Osadebe, well that would be such a bad thing either. Footballers with experience of League One and with youth on their side. We’re going to need someone to push the first team players after all!