Nigel Adkins made a statement to the SLP today concerning squad rebuilding for next season which appears to show some personal frustration and perhaps an attempt at managing supporter expectations.
The first thing to remind ourselves at this point, and perhaps Adkins ought to be aware as well, if he isn't already, is that it has been quite a number of years since we have had a settled and balanced squad at the start of the season, anywhere near ready to challenge. Roland Duchatelet wasn't seriously interested in promotion and invariably left us short at the start and certainly shorter come the end of January.
The shenanigans of ESI and ESI2 during the first half of 2020 meant that Thomas Sandgaard was left with the last few weeks of the transfer window in which to build the squad for last season. The reality is that too much of our business has been done after the season has started, when the cream of the crop have gone and when it's more a quantity than quality game. Expectations for this close season are understandably greater.
So, Nigel's update today comes as a bit of surprise. Twitter was already teasing us with speculation that top-scorer Chuks Aneke is considering an offer from Shrewsbury Town having had his offer from us. Adkins acknowledges the position of Chuks and the other out-of-contract players by saying they "they are free agents and can go and speak to any football out there." This is obvious but he then goes on to remind us that the window doesn't close until several weeks after the season starts and that Agents play their part in this too. The inference appears to be that he is not expecting to get many deals over the line quickly, starting with Aneke, Pearce and Matthews who are out of contract at the end of June.
Ordinarily that might just suggest that the Agents and Players will bide their time and look for the best deal, not necessarily the one they have been offered to stay put. You could also see this as a lack of confidence from Adkins in the offers that have been made or the initial responses to them. He goes on to say "we can become very, very frustrated by it or recognise this is what it is and bring the right people into the football club with the right attitudes." Sounds like he's not too happy with the initial responses. We all want to see the right people with the right attitudes but the three players in question have largely proven that already so it looks like Adkins feels he may be snubbed.
He talks about the management team handling the squad rebuilding (himself, Gallen, Roddy and Sandgaard) and says there are "a lot of conversations going on." In his experience, however, "it can be very challenging bringing 12 or 13 players in, that doesn't happen overnight." Again, as supporters we don't need to be told that but we are expecting things to be better this time around without a transfer embargo and relatively more money to spend.
Perhaps I am reading too much into this and he's just giving us his experience without necessarily reflecting on the immediate situation at Charlton under Sangaard? He does also say about ideally being in a position to "freshen it up and improving what you've got with two or three signings" but I believe we are going to need a lot more than that.
Finally he talks about needing "a couple of good senior players" as role models, who "might not be first choice." I wonder if that's a way of saying the likes of Pearce and Matthews have been made offers to reflect that? It might explain why he was so defensive initially?
I certainly hope we aren't still in a situation where the budget position is pushing for a delayed recruitment based on deferring wages and getting bargains at the expense of the players we really need and a squad that is ready to go from the 7th August.
I haven't yet renewed my season ticket, not because it's really a question of 'if' but because I would really like to feel excited and motivated to do so. The surety of fans returning to the stadium would do that and the signs are promising but we have some way to go yet. A few quality signings would show our intent and get me off my arse. I am sure I am not alone here....