There have been many reasons to be positive so far this off-season, despite the demoralising finish to the 2016/17 campaign.
The managerial situation — whether you agreed with the eventual appointment or not — was resolved quickly, with the minimum of fuss and allowed the incumbent to get to work with a full pre-season.
And the new regime, featuring Adrian Pennock as head coach and the returning Peter Taylor as director of football, has set to work in the transfer market, rightly addressing the area of most concern from last season — our defence.
Three defensive signings quickly followed the managerial team’s appointment, suggesting the club means business as they look to address the team’s shortcomings from the previous campaign.
But while the back line may have been strengthened with the arrival of reinforcements, subsequent events have left us concerned about the other end of the pitch.
— AFC Wimbledon (@AFCWimbledon) June 26, 2017
Goalscorer-in-chief, terrace hero and weekly chaser of lost causes Cody McDonald has left the club, opting to reject a new deal at Priestfield in favour of a fresh start at AFC Wimbledon (joining former Gill Deji Oshilaja as one of the Dons’ new arrivals). But his confirmed departure was swiftly followed by news of Bradley Dack’s imminent departure, with Blackburn Rovers agreeing a fee with the Gills for the playmaker.
Dack may have had a lacklustre campaign last year compared to seasons past, but when fully fit and on his game he’s one of the most creative players you’ll find at this level. Losing his creativity and McDonald’s goals leaves a major headache for Messrs Pennock and Taylor as we get set to kick off our pre-season campaign.
“While the arrival of Eaves undoubtedly adds a new dimension to our attack, McDonald’s departure sees us lose another — that of a natural penalty-box finisher.”
Sure, we’ve made the welcome signing of a much-needed target man in Tom Eaves and secured the signature of the seemingly tireless Josh Parker, but both players strike me as being the sort of forward we’d use to help get the best out of an out-and-out goalscorer. But with McDonald now out the door humming theme from ‘The Wombles’, we’re now left bereft in that department.
— Thomas Eaves (@Thomas__Eaves) June 22, 2017
While the arrival of Eaves undoubtedly adds a new dimension to our attack, McDonald’s departure sees us lose another — that of a natural penalty-box finisher.
Some have suggested it’s not big a blow as many believe, saying some of the better iterations of the side down the years have achieved success without a main goal-getter. And we’ll certainly be hoping for the likes of Lee Martin to weigh in with his fair share of goals and assists this season, while crossing our fingers that Josh Wright not only stays at the club, but replicates his impressive goalscoring exploits of last season from midfield.
But even if the midfield does weigh in, we still need that threat up top, and while a forward line of Eaves and Parker might provide industry aplenty, I’m not sure it’ll deliver the same goal threat we’ve seen from McDonald in previous seasons.
✍️ Forward Josh Parker joins the #Gills' on a two-year deal.
— Gillingham FC (@TheGillsFC) June 12, 2017
If Pennock and Taylor can produce a goalscoring rabbit from their hat before opening day, that would leave us feeling relatively optimistic ahead of the coming campaign.
But without a goalscoring front man to strike fear into opposing defences, we may find ourselves on the back foot from Day 1.