Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sido signs up

Last week, my blog post 'A deflating summer' told of my frustrations at our summer recruitment - but in the past 48 hours, things have definitely looked up.
I was worried about the fact that we seemed to be going into pre-season with several holes in our squad, and with a lack of experience.
But now we have two more new signings, taking us to 18 players signed on for the new campaign, and things are definitely looking more positive.
The first new arrival, as alluded to in yesterday's post, was Alan Bennett, a 29-year-old, six-foot-two-inch centre-half with experience at Brentford and Wycombe of getting out of this division.
While it may be stretching it a little to say that he will be going for the hat-trick this season, it is clear that he will know his way around this level.
Watching his video interview on the Echo website with Jon Palmer, it seems that this was a very quickly-arranged move - a call from Yatesy last week, a trip down and then pen to paper on a contract.
This signing seems to have poured water on the theory pursued by some Robins fans that Yatesy is unable to sell the club to potential signings.
Bennett had a decent offer from a club back in his native Ireland, from where he took the much-trodden route from Cork to Reading which Shane Long and Kevin Doyle took with a bit more success - costing the Royals £250,000.
He didn't play for Reading, but did turn out for Brentford, Southampton and Wycombe, picking up two Irish caps against Ecuador and Bolivia.
So, all in all, a decent pedigree - and just the sort of experience I was bemoaning the lack of in the previous blog post.
He played 20 games for Wycombe last season, and 23 for Wycombe and Brentford the season before - but whether that suggests a few injuries or just squad rotation is unclear.
Let's hope it is the latter, as the last thing we need is another Martin Riley - someone who will break every two or three games - especially as it seems that Bennett is emerging as a front-runner to be the captain next season.
The other new arrival, confirmed today, is a very interesting signing.
Sido Jombati is a Portuguese untility player from Bath City, signed on a one year deal for a nominal fee.
The feedback I have had on Twitter from Bath fans has been very positive - they are sorry to see him go, but viewed it as inevitable that he would leave for a League club.
Apparently, Crawley, AFC Wimbledon, Scunthorpe, Swindon and Northampton were all sniffing around, yet he has come to us, which proves to me that money is not his number one driver, as all the others would probably give him more dough.
It seems, from his website interview, that the great Archie Howells' words, along with those of a couple of our other ex-players at Bath - take your pick from Marley Watkins, Adam Connolly, Alex Russell and Scott Murray - may have swayed his decision.
Predictably, some of the comments I have seen on Facebook from our fans have been less positive, so what's new there, and someone I know described it as 'shopping at Poundland'.
We shall see, and I will be interested to see where he slots in, as he seems to be able to play at full-back, left or right, in midfield in a defensive or attacking role, or out wide as well
So following on from the Portuguese waiters who played for the reserves in a 4-3 thriller in the fog at Worcester under Steve Cotterill in the late 90s, we now have another player from Portugal...
The only slight disappointment is that we have given him a one-year contract - but I would imagine it is one of those which will trigger a second year if he plays a certain number of games.
Mark Yates said he wanted 20 players but hoped to squeeze in another, and it seems that Jombati is the 'bonus' signing as that makes 18 players. Now the question starts about how many more we can expect to arrive.
Scrutiny of the numbers on the training kit being worn by the players during pre-season has thrown up three gaps - numbers 9, 12 and 14.
Logical thinking then would say a striker, goalkeeper and a winger could still be in the pipeline, and Mark Yates has already said he is confident of bringing in a couple of six-month loans.
My bet is that they would be the goalkeeper and the striker, from higher-level clubs, and the winger would be the last permanent arrival - maybe Jake Thomson, as Mark has said he is under consideration.
Intriguingly as well, Mark said he would have to wait for one of the loanees as 'something had come up which was exciting for the lad'.
A theory that was put to me to explain this comment was that the player could be a member of one of the England age-group teams which have been competing this summer - most likely the under 19s, as the under 17s would be too young and, let's face it, we would be too small a club for an under 21 international to come to.
Now this could all be utter tosh, but there might be a little nugget in there somewhere heading our way...
That would mean nothing for any of the five triallists we have, Luke Bottomer, Bagasan Graham, Harry Hooman (who played for Bath at Cleeve the other night), Ben Evans and Keir McSorley, who are all young lads who seem to be here to make the numbers up for the friendlies and do some fitness work.
They would have to be pretty exceptional to get a contract, and we will probably find out at Cirencester... four days to go!