Time for a brief round-up of the news coming out of today, and we’ll start with what appears to be frustration from Danny on the transfer front.
The trial players that played against Lincoln United on Saturday will not be joining the group, and in particular I’m surprised that Brandon Ormund Ottiwell isn’t still around. I wasn’t on the James Rowe fan bus as much, but it transpires that none of those players will be Imps next season. The idea of a trial is for players to come in and try to impress the management and clearly that hasn’t happened. I’m heartened that we are still only looking at bringing players in that add value, and I trust Danny’s judgement on that.
Regan Booty is in Portugal as I discussed earlier, and they’re also joined by a young left-back from Millwall called Noah Chesmain. Noah is a product of the Millwall youth academy and he spent time out on loan at Welling last season. I suspect he’s being looked at as a Sam Habergham back-up, and that’s where Danny has a dilemma. He wants to add value to the group, but undoubtedly anyone signed to play left-back will be a reserve player for most of the season. That’s why I expect a young player from a Championship club to come in at some stage, rather than a more seasoned pro. If a Premier League team release a player on loan they will be expecting them to get minutes, perhaps that wouldn’t be the case as much with young players from sides such as Millwall.
Danny is clearly being frustrated in his efforts to get players in at the rate he wants, but it isn’t time to panic just yet. He admits to being a little light, and with the new season three weeks away time is ebbing away. That said the transfer window doesn’t shut for 49 days, and I believe we have a strong first team that could carry us through the first couple of weeks of the season. Our transfer policy is very much quality over quantity, and with the spine of the team largely unchanged from last season we have a sound basis to start the season on, even if we’re a few short of a full squad.
Noah and Regan both got a run out tonight against Benfica B, one of the few B teams we’re likely to face that doesn’t split the fan base like a piece of rotting wood. Usually a friendly of this magnitude would be classed as a headliner, one for the fans to enjoy, but no such fanfare with Danny. He wanted to see his boys run all over the park in a test of fitness, and whether it was Benfica, Brighton or Bullingdon was irrelevant. It’s a sensible approach to a pre-season and the 3-1 defeat meant we kept our dignity as well as getting some real value. I suspect he’s happy to find out we have adequately replaced Alan Power as the back-up penalty squanderer to Matt Rhead, although an inch to the left and Ollie Palmer would have added a little more shine to the result.
As Matt Green did on Saturday, Jordan Maguire-Drew announced his arrival with a goal inside quarter of an hour, and whilst talk is focused on the players we don’t currently have, it would be wise to mention the ones we have secured. JMD is our very own WMD, and he proved that tonight with a peach of a goal, according to Twitter.
So from one B-side that most approve of to one that is dividing like a professor of mathematics. The Imps have been handed Everton B, or rather Everton Under 23s in the Checkatrade Trophy, and once again it has ignited the debate on social media. There are several subjects that seem to spark the usual flurry of vitriol between different parties, and the maligned competition is perhaps only second to a certain right back in its ability to spark controversial and borderline aggressive comments.
I’ve made my stance clear, I won’t be boycotting the tournament but I respect the opinions of those that choose to. I’m not going to go over old ground here, if you want to read the different viewpoints there is one here for boycotting, and one here against it. I actually think it’s an interesting match we’ve been handed, and getting one of the bigger sides has added to the attraction for me. I get the politics behind not approving of the format, and people can hold whatever views they please, but Everton’s younger sides is going to attract more fans than someone like Fulham. Now that City can field younger players too it’ll be a different type of match up.
If the competition had retained last season’s format whereby lower league clubs were fined for putting out younger players, then I’d be staying away. A competition billed as promoting youth cannot justify fining some teams for fielding young players and demanding others do just that. Now that there is some form of parity I believe it has retained a shred of its dignity, albeit a small shred. The EFL Trophy, Checkatrade LDV, AWS, FRT, JPT has always been a dismal draw, it’s always been the competition that draws low attendances and a certain malaise from most of the participants. I recall one season we played Morecambe, then a non-league side and everyone moaned at letting those clubs in.
Let me put a different angle on it, one that I appreciate won’t make a jot of difference to you whichever side of the Checkatrade fence you’re sat on. Danny has spoken today of seeing Regan Booty in action last season for Huddersfield Under 23 side, and Joe Ward joined us last season after playing at the same level for Brighton. What is to stop Danny spotting a player in Everton colours that could add to our group over the season? Surely an opportunity to see these younger players in action could benefit the teams they’re playing against? Would DC normally have the scope to take in an Everton Under 23 match? Probably not, but here the chance will arrive on his own turf.
I know it isn’t a draw for many fans, I know that the presence of two-club fans is making our hardcore even more irate too. Not only are they wanting to watch a competition that sparks such fury and resentment, but one of the motivations is that some fans have Everton as their ‘second team’, going against yet another unspoken code of being a ‘proper’ fan.
Again, each to their own, but I implore you if you’re a City fan getting irate about those fans please stop and think. Clive Nates, the man who helped to facilitate the arrival of Danny and Nicky, the catalyst for everything good that has happened over the last fourteen months, he is one of ‘those’ fans. Two clubs isn’t for me, but it isn’t a crime and I urge people to be respectful of each others views. If you’re boycotting the EFL Trophy that is your prerogative, if you want to go and watch that is your choice also. Remember just because you hold a certain view doesn’t make you right and others wrong, nor does it mean others think you’re wrong if they don’t feel the same.
Don’t forget we also get to play Mansfield and Notts County too, games that should at least draw a hundred or so more fans than a midweek trip to somewhere like Hartlepool, a side I’m sure knocked us out one year. If you believe this a precursor to B teams in the EFL then that’s fine, personally I just think the FA are desperately trying to breathe some life into a competition that has been flat-lining since the 1980’s. At least we don’t have to travel far, think of the petrol we’re saving under the current format.
Goodness, I get four paragraphs about trialists, transfers and a friendly against European giants, and eight out of the bloody Checkatrade trophy. One thing is for certain, nobody ever wrote five paragraphs about the LDV Vans trophy, nobody cared enough to bother. In making the competition controversial the EFL have almost made it relevant, and that is quite some feat.