Mag­pies to re­build in un­cer­tain times

Club con­firms eight play­ers are set to move on

Windsor & Eton Express - - Recruitmen­t / Sport -

Maiden­head United boss Alan Devon­shire has had to get used to squad re­builds over the past few sum­mers, as play­ers move on for big­ger op­por­tu­ni­ties or a big­ger pay day.

He’s re­peat­edly had to freshen up his squad and wheel and deal to bring in new play­ers ca­pa­ble of keep­ing the club in the Na­tional League.

It’s a tes­ta­ment to his skills as a man­ager that he’s so far been able to do this.

How­ever, he’s never had to do it dur­ing a global pan­demic, with lock­down and so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­stric­tions still in place and with great un­cer­tainty over when – or even if – the new cam­paign can get un­der­way.

This week the club con­firmed that eight play­ers would be mov­ing on, in­clud­ing last sea­son’s top scorer Danny White­hall and home grown fans’ favourite Josh Kelly.

Joe El­lul and Shamir Fenelon, who both im­pressed in their sin­gle sea­sons for the club and James Ak­in­tunde, a faith­ful ser­vant for the Mag­pies over the past few sea­sons, are also on the list.

The oth­ers are goal­keeper Chris Dunn, de­fender Fred­die Grant and mid­fielder/de­fender Aron Davies.

None of the de­par­tures have come as a sur­prise to Devon­shire, al­though he’d have liked some of them to stay and said the club tried hard over the past sea­son to get Kelly to sign a new con­tract at the club.

The de­par­tures give him and his son, chief scout Lee Devon­shire, a tricky re­build in the com­ing weeks, but they’ve been down this road be­fore.

Af­ter the Mag­pies first sea­son in the Na­tional League they had ar­guably a tougher re­build when Sean Marks, Harry Pritchard, Sam Bar­ratt, Jake Good­man and Max Kil­man all left for pas­tures new. Dave Tarpey also left that sea­son.

“It is what it is,” Devon­shire says sto­ically. “It’s some­thing we’ve had to deal with over the years and we’ll start re­build­ing and see which play­ers we can bring in.

“There weren’t any real sur­prises. I knew most of them would be go­ing. “The ones that I re­leased ob­vi­ously and those who’ve de­cided to go, it was al­ways go­ing to hap­pen.

“We’ve been talk­ing about a new con­tract with Josh for the last two years but his fam­ily didn’t want him to sign it, so he was al­ways go­ing to leave. That’s his and his fam­ily’s de­ci­sion. It was al­ways go­ing to hap­pen.

“It didn’t mat­ter what we said and we tried to do the best we could (to keep him). We bid but he was al­ways mov­ing on.”

Devon­shire said he ex­pects to be in a po­si­tion to an­nounce a cou­ple of new sign­ings in the com­ing weeks but it’s a tricky sit­u­a­tion with play­ers wait­ing to see what’s go­ing to hap­pen with the new sea­son be­fore choos­ing to com­mit their fu­ture to a club.

“We’re re­ally busy, me and the boy (Lee Devon­shire), at the mo­ment,” he said. “We’re talk­ing to agents and play­ers, but we’re go­ing to take our time and make sure we bring in the right play­ers.

“It’s hard be­cause peo­ple want to wait, but lis­ten, it is what it is.

“All we can do is do what we’re do­ing at the mo­ment and hope­fully we’ll have a cou­ple of sign­ings in the next week or so.

“When we’re in the new ground (at Bray­wick Park) I think we’ll be a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion and we’ll be look­ing to move on.

“When that hap­pens, we’ll look at things again but I’d like to think we’d be in a po­si­tion to give play­ers longer con­tracts.”

Plenty of agents have been in touch to of­fer up their play­ers’ ser­vices but get­ting the right ones will be cru­cial to the club’s hopes of stay­ing in the divi­sion. Last sea­son was an­other close call.

No one can say what would have hap­pened in the fi­nal nine league matches – and the Mag­pies have pulled off some pretty im­pres­sive runs when the chips looked to be down.

But the club was on a down­ward spi­ral when the sea­son was pre­ma­turely ended in midMarch and looked set for rel­e­ga­tion af­ter five de­feats on the spin.

The league’s pointsper-game cal­cu­la­tion – and thank­fully the side’s form ear­lier in the cam­paign – saw them skip back above luck­less Ebb­s­fleet United into fourth from bot­tom and sur­vive by a whisker.

Josh Kelly and Danny White­hall in ac­tion this sea­son.

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