Thursday, 28 July 2011

Heading for the exit door??

It is an inevitable part of football that players will come and go from clubs.
Some of them you will be quite happy to see the back of, wondering as they get their P45s how on earth they were given a professional contract in the first place.
Others are prised away by other clubs when their contracts run out and, while that can be annoying, it is something fans have learned to put up with - as long as players coming in to replace them are of equal or better quality.
Others just find themselves out of the picture for whatever reason, and rather than cheating their club by picking up the money for nothing, their professional pride tells them to see what other opportunities are out there.
The summer at Whaddon Road has been one of transition. After a season of picking up the pieces and a campaign of two halves with a good start and dire finish, Mark Yates has made some big decisions.
He has been given the leeway from somewhere to bring in nine players while only six have gone - and built a more competitive squad of 22 - with maybe still more to come.
But with only 16 places in a matchday squad, some are going to find themselves in the stand on a regular basis, with only reserve games at Seasons for their match practice.
A club like Cheltenham cannot afford to have too many players in that position, and the players can react in two ways.
Either they sit on their hands and take the money or they show some professional pride and if someone offers them a chance to play regular, competitive football, they listen to what they have to say.
Andy Gallinagh clearly falls into the latter category as an approach from a club to speak to him about a move - permanent or loan we are not sure yet - has been met with a wish to have discussions.
He is not being forced to speak to them or told he has to leave, Mark Yates seems to have been honest and said he will not be in the starting line-up, so Andy has made the decision to see what's on offer.
Andy has been a dependable squad player in his seven years with us and have never let the team down in whatever position he has been asked to play, right back, centre back, central midfield - even left back a few times.
But looking at the squad now, it is hard to see where he will get a game on a regular basis.
Alan Bennett is set to be our new captain, and he and Steve Elliott look nailed on to start at centre half.
Then young Harry Hooman has been given a contract and looked impressive in the friendlies - certainly not out of place.
At 6' 3" Harry has a big height advantage over Gallers and also seems a bit quicker. Don't forget also that Mark Yates could always move Keith Lowe across from right back to fill in as well. Big competition there.
Gallers started with us as a right back, but has hardly played there for the first team, as the likes of Jerry Gill and now Keith Lowe were first choices in that role.
Lowe will start there, and we also have Kyle Haynes, eager for the chance to fulfill his potential, new signing Sido Jombati says his best position is also right back, and Dave Bird can play there as well so that seems to close another door for Andy.
He played a number of games in a midfield role, as a holding player or one of a two-man central midfield, but there is no way he will get in there ahead of Russ Penn or Marlon Pack (and Luke Summerfield come to that, if we sign him), while a holding role is more likely to go to Dave Bird.
Even a bench place may be difficult - yes he is versatile, but Sido Jombati can play all the way along the back four and in midfield, so he might get the nod for the 'Jack of all trades' role.
Fans never like to see their favourite players go, and from the reaction to news that Andy might leave some are not happy about it.
But then again, some fans simply do not like change - if some Cheltenham fans had their way we would still have Damian Spencer up front, just because he tries hard.
Andy seems to have a lot of fans because they perceive that he tries hard, wears his heart on his sleeve, plays for the shirt and the like.
That is true, he does all those things, but trying hard is not always enough.
Andy has never been a regular starter in the side (20 starts last season) and with even more players coming in to play in his positions it was inevitable he would be under even more pressure for a place.
Fans are pointing to his role in our good start to last season, winning two player of the month awards, and yes, he did have a good early part of the season. But so did many others, Thomas and Goulding up front, Keith Lowe at right back, Marlon Pack in midfield.
At times last season he was consigned to the bench, Mark Yates even opting to play loan signing Ashley Eastham ahead of him.
Overall he has been part of a defensive unit which has let in too many goals in the past two seasons (even though Scott Brown seems to be the only one who gets the blame for that) - and at the end of last term gave away penalties at Crewe, Burton and Stockport.
Our defence needed attention in the summer and to be improved and that is what Mark Yates is trying to do, and it means some players have to be sacrificed along the way to try to make us better.
In my opinion, if Andy has to leave (hopefully for a small fee as he is under contract) to finance a player like Luke Summerfield being signed, a midfield player with Championship experience who would definitely  improve the squad, then so be it.
He may not be the last one to go - I can see Theo Lewis, Kyle Haynes and Ethan Moore having loan spells elsewhere, and maybe even Bagasan Graham, unless he gets a place in the 16.
It will not be a cakewalk for players like Brian Smikle and Dave Bird to get in the 16 either, which shows the improved quality of the squad, as Smikle played a part in every game last year and Bird made 27 starts.
Fans want better players, a better squad and better results. That is not achieved by keeping players out of sentiment, because they have been loyal or because they try hard.
It may be hard for some fans to accept, but it is the reality of football these days.