Well I’m rather enjoying the extended close season – that said I’m itching to watch some Luton footie again. Roll on Borehamwood next Saturday (never thought I’d type that).
JohnStill has been true to his word and made lots (and lots) of changes. Seemingly we have all sorts of cover all over the pitch now. I’ll try and get my head around who’s in and out.
If I get names/descriptions/roles wrong I’m more than willing to be helped out. It may be of course that though a player has played in a given position in the past JohnStill has got plans for him.
Is it just me or do this summer’s signings seem a bit more structured that the recent past? Big Mick aside, who had to assemble a team from scratch at a moment’s notice, the last three managers seemed to have signed anything that moved, without knowing or seen the player. JohnStill says (at least) that he has watched, seen before or even managed the players he has signed. Buckle said that the squad needed to be thinned out but ended up throwing cash at people who didn’t even get a game and his squad was as big as Brabin’s in the end. Madness – a bit of sanity is long overdue.
So – ins and outs – please feel free to correct me:
Alan Neilson – I suppose the writing was always on the wall for dear Neils. A loyal servant and reluctantly promoted originally when he was enjoying coaching the youth team, suddenly he was plunged into managing the side in between Mick and Money. He had two more caretaker goes, but both of those resulted in two of the more woeful performances in recent years. JohnStill said he was going to bring in his own team and he has.
Dimi Kharine – it will seem slightly strange not to see Dmitri Kharine not kicking the ball at the keepers at the start of the game – he’s been at the club for ages. Wikipedia just told me (and hey that’s always accurate) that he’s been with us since 2004. He’s been the only constant in a sea of change and was the only remaining link to the Newell years with Brill on loan. Remember them?
Stuart Fleetwood – always seemingly trying to compete for a place, which he was never quite able to nail down, Fleets was very popular and had a good eye for goal and a good turn of speed. A reasonable return of 21 goals in 60-odd appearances. With Cullen and Gray in JohnStill’s brave new world, there was no room for Fleets as well. Don’t think he’s got a club yet, but surely will.
Greg Taylor – bullied by Buckle, confidence drained, I’ll always feel that he was never quite (and I’m mixing my metaphors again) given a fair crack of the whip on a level playing field, if you see what I mean. Best of luck Greg – but I hope you have a shocker when we play Cambridge.
Janos Kovacs – poor guy didn’t know if he was coming and going under Buckle. Strangely inconsistent. A rock in defence against Norwich, but as prone to howlers as any centre half we’ve had down the years. I wish him well – he seemed to love playing for us.
James Dance – ah, The Shadow. Prone to injury and another one we only saw fleeting glimpses of due to selectorial inconsistency and spending most of his time in sick bay. True to his nickname, it will be impossible to spot the difference if he is at the club or not such was his mysterious now-you-seem-him-now-you-don’t time at the club. Spookily The Shadow hasn’t even got a Wikipedia page. He melts in and out of existence. Does he exist at all? Is my memory tricking me? I think he’s signed for Kiddy anyway. Possibly.
Danny Spiller – no comment.
Unlikely to be seen again:
Anaud Mendy: currently transfer listed and won’t play for the Hatters again according to JohnStill. What did he do? Did it involve a locker and a paper cup? Must have been serious. Again, won’t make much difference.
Scott Rendell – from hero against Norwich, with his picture on the front pages of the national papers to being on the transfer list at Luton. Truly hero to zero. I think he suffered from being perpetually cast in the wrong role – or rather he’s a square peg. Tall enough to be a target man he’s not the greatest header, he’s also doesn’t have the out and out speed of say an Andre Gray. Norwich poached goal aside, his best games seemed to be when he was playing ‘in the hole’. Remember his two goals against Southport? I wish him all the best, thank him for that lovely win against the Premiership team and hope a new club comes in for him soon.
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner – also on the transfer list. Always played better at centre half and had some shockers at left-back. Must go down in our club’s history as being one of the worst left backs we’ve had. His performance away to Grimsby or was it Newport was just shockingly poor. Not in JohnStill’s plans. TFFT.
Dean Brill – up in Scotland on loan to Inverness. Best of luck to him. I wish him well. I thought he had his best time with us when Blackwell was in charge. Seemingly gone backwards since then or rather hasn’t quite kicked on.
Adam Watkins – a Luton lad through and through and I think I must have seen almost every one of the games he played. Started promisingly against Southampton in the cup. Never quite pushed on perhaps, but has a really good eye for goal. Lots of competition in midfield meant he didn’t get a proper run I guess. Best of luck at Dunstable Adam.
Gary Richards – another perpetual sick note, who hasn’t managed to pull on a shirt yet.
Have I missed anyone?
Hakan Hayrettin – now there’s a name to conjure with. Who he? Apparently JS’s new coach was the manager at Grays and led them successfully to the Ryman league or something last year. Recruiting from his homeland in the east again, JohnStill obviously rates this chap and brought him in as soon as Neils finished.
Mark Cullen – a striker from Hull. I think he might have played against us last year whilst on loan, though I can’t remember him from that. I think he’s short and pacey and so vying for a place with Andre Gray. Be interesting to see where he fits in. Towards the end of last season JohnStill played a successful 4-2-3-1 formation, with a big man forming the target at the front with Gray playing narrowly in the right of a front three, with Martin on the left. Assuming that formation, presumably Cullen is vying for Gray’s role?
Elliot Justham – ‘keeper from Thurrock. Let’s hope, as Mark Tyler creaks on for another year, that JS has unearthed another gem from the East. Be good to see what he’s like, mind you I liked Shane Gore, so what do I know?
Jim Stevenson – came from Histon with his twin. All I know is that he’s 21 – plays in the middle of midfield and gets plenty of goals. I suspect that puts him in the Lawless category of midfielder rather than a holding player – but we’ll see…
Danny Fitzsimmons – came from Histon with his twin (see above). All I know about Danny is that he plays at left back, can play at centre-half and used to play at QPR. Presumably cover for Scott Griffiths then?
Andy Parry – came from Southport with his twin. Plays at centre-half but can play across the back and as a holding midfielder. Played against us I think last year and scored after a Howells howler.
Shaun Whalley – also came from Southport with his twin, see above. A lightning fast winger who can also play as a striker and ‘in the hole’ he will certainly put pressure on the likes of Howells, Martin, Lawless and/or Gray depending on the formation.
Antony Charles – an experienced centre half who has spent the last few years playing for clubs hanging around in league two. Not sure if this bodes well or not, but JS got his man. Clean slate and all that.
Luke Guttridge – last but not least – again an experienced journeyman midfielder knocking around the lower end of the league for most of his career. I’m not sure if he is competition for Lawless or Smith, his goal ratio would suggest Smith I think. He certainly looks like a hard man from the pictures I’ve seen. Looks like Alan White on acid if the truth be told, and Alan White always looked as if he was on acid (but played like he was on dope).
So that’s the moves – from what I can recall. Lots of learning of new faces to do and I can’t wait.
In terms of cover of the positions, clearly we have two keepers now. Scott Griffiths at left back with Fitzsimmons as cover. At centre half, Lacey, Parry, BigMac and Charles, with Fitzsimmons as cover. At right back the ever reliable Ronnie H – with presumably Parry as cover (clutching at straws here).
In the middle we have Jonathan Smith, Matt Robinson (who got better and better last year) and Guttridge.
As far as more attacking midfielders go we have Lawless, Stevenson and Taiwo and perhaps Whalley?
On the wings we have Whalley, Martin, Jakey and JJ.
Up front we have Jon Shaw, Alex Wall, Andre Gray and Mark Cullen.
Other than the youngsters I think I’ve covered everyone there, but please fill me in if I’ve left anyone out.
So what do you think about the departures and new players? I think the lads are in Portugal at the moment acclimatising for the 30 degree weather we are having over here at present! JohnStill will be putting them through their paces and working them hard.
Roll on the pre-season friendlies…come on you Hatters!