This is part two of a two-part series. The first part can be found here.
This is what I wrote yesterday by way of an introduction.
Since Keith Alexander in 2002, Mark Kennedy is the 11th manager facing his first transfer window. Some of those managers were coming in fresh, and others had half a season to put their squads together, but on ten occasions before now, since 2002, a new manager has been forced to build a squad. Players have left, others come in and excitement has either been palpable or mooted. I thought about the summers that seemed like a success, the players who, on paper, should have been great for the club. For instance, The Magnificent Seven did look to be good on paper, but on the grass? Not so much.
However, when they signed, people were generally happy; that’s the point that got me thinking. Fans get ‘underwhelmed’ by some signings, carried away with others, but how often are our assessments of a new manager’s first window right? In some cases, we have nothing to base our opinions on other than instinct, but we still try, don’t we? How many of us said Danny Mandroiu was a great signing last week? 75%? More? How do we know?
The truth is, we don’t. So, in order to stop us talking about players we’ve signed that we can’t possibly judge, here are the ten times since 2002 that a new manager has had his first transfer window and can be judged. For context, I have added the division, the players who had just left and where I think our budget would have fallen that season. I don’t know the budgets for sure, I just have a good guesstimate.
Hopefully, even if this provides nothing other than light reading, you’ll get some enjoyment out of it.
Disclaimer: I may have missed the odd player off or credited one with signing in pre-season who arrived late, but it’s not intentional.
Another disclaimer: It’s turned into a two-part series. It’s not easy putting this together!
David Holdsworth 2012
Division: Blue Square Premier
Estimated Budget: Lower midtable
Ins: Andrew Boyce, Luke Daley, Rob Duffy, Paul Farman, Peter Gilbert, Dan Gray, Colin Larkin, Gary Mills, David Preece, Adam Smith, Geoffrey Gouveia, Tom Miller, Graham Hutchison, Vadaine Oliver, Mo Fofana
Outs: Jean-François Christophe, Sam Smith, Danny Hone, Joe Anyon, Jefferson Louis, Francis Laurent, Richard Pacquette, Simon Russell, Niall Rodney, Tony Sinclair, Karlton Watson, Josh Gowling
Rating at the time: 2/10
Rating with hindsight: 4/10
The one thing I’d say about David Holdsworth’s summer window is that you pretty much got what you saw. He inherited a fractured squad, which he broke up even more to ensure survival. Then, when summer came, he was skint, not quite bottom four skint (I don’t think), but not far off it. He opened his little black book and the names tumbled out, but in truth, he had a big job on. He had to replace decent players at this level, like Smith, Gowling and Hone, and he did what he could.
History is unfair on David Holdsworth; sure, he might not have been a good manager, but his signings this summer weren’t all bad. Boyce, Farman, Miller and Oliver are all recalled fondly, but the problem was to get the numbers up there was a lot of filler. Nobody got excited about Gouveia, Gilbert, Gray or Fofana at the time, and they still don’t. They say a pessimist is never disappointed, and even the staunchest optimist can’t have been really disappointed with this outcome. It wasn’t a good window, but in terms of expectations, it was about where it should have been.
There were a few hits; Vadaine Oliver was the biggest surprise, but I think Tom Miller ties for the biggest hit. He was a solid defender who won the hearts of fans during his stay here, and when he did move to the Football League, few would begrudge him his success. In fairness, we’d had him on loan so he wasn’t entirely new to the club, but his capture on a permanent deal was a bright spot in a quite challenging time for the club. The other, without a doubt, was Paul Farman, and bona fide Lincoln City legend.
Holdsworth didn’t see the season out, and I think that’s down to a couple of reasons. It wasn’t goals scored; we hit 66, more than the teams in 9th, 10th and 11th. Obviously, we conceded too many, and we didn’t have a spine; that for me was something we desperately needed. The season went off the rails when we lost our so-called captain, Gary Mills, and of all the players, he’s the one I’m calling as the biggest flop. There were worse players on the list, but he was the one I expect more from. He would point at this, shout at that, but nothing more.