At this moment, all around the country, football fans are getting excited about the new season and how they expect to improve on last term. For Yeovil fans there seems to be more of a sense of relief that they even have enough players to travel to Brentford on August 6th. With Sam Williams, Martin Gritton, Craig Calver and ostracised defender Stefan Stam allowed to leave the club, contract offers went out to seven other glovers and after a few weeks of ‘umm-ing and ahhh-ing’, just youngster Billy Gibson put pen to paper.
Loan players all returned from whence they came leaving Terry Skiverton with just five contracted players plus right-hand man Nathan Jones. With the loss of top scorer Dean Bowditch and top assist-maker Andy Welsh, Skivo had some work cut out for him and the Huish Park rumour mill kicked into full flow.
Part of Skiverton’s plan is to reduce the amount of loan players each season and to recruit players on contract that can do the job for Yeovil Town. Improving on last year in that aspect shouldn’t be too hard with about 16 loanees through the doors in 2010-2011 (forgive me if I lost count). The task at hand has been to add to a squad of five players with little money after letting the clubs biggest assets leave for free at the end of their contracts. First through the door was a familiar face as Gavin Williams returned for his fourth spell at Huish Park. ‘Super Gav’ has been hampered in recent seasons by niggling injuries but a fit and energetic Williams can be one of the best players in League One and an absolute steal on a free contract, a sentiment echoed by the gaffer: “On his day … he is definitely one of the most talented players in this division.”
Skivo’s recruitment methods hit the national news over the summer after he revealed he was taking tips about who to buy from his Twitter followers. Yeovil fans, not to mention supporters from Premier League and Championsip teams became Town’s scouting system which led to the signing of former Arsenal academy and Everton striker Kieran Agard, a move that has been dubbed the first ever ‘twansfer’ after the suggestion came from one of Skiverton’s Twitter scouts.
After Plymouth Argyle’s downfall and the expiration of some player contracts, Skivo wisely sniffed out a few players for trial to give the club a new lease of life and snatch a bargain at the same time. Big Bondz N’Gala became the next addition to the contracted players and fellow Pilgrims Steve MacLean, Jim Paterson and Rory Fallon all made the journey from Devon to try and earn a contract. MacLean put pen to paper to join new signings Anthony Edgar and Dominic Blizzard as Skiverton’s metaphoric boat started to fill up and get ready for the next voyage. Negotiations with Paterson fell through and Fallon is yet to be offered a deal.
A busy period for the management team continued as QPR youngster Max Ehmer became the first loan signing of the season after impressing in the second half of last term, joined by Curtis Hayes-Brown. Bucket loads of players have been on trial over the summer in the green and white stripes including maverick journeyman Bas Savage and striker Diarra Tiemoko who scored three goals in two games but wasn’t offered a contract because he was unfit – surely he can get fit, he scored three goals! For Yeovil! One of which was past David James!!
Joining the trialists have been a number of goalkeepers with Yeovil having no stopper on the books other than the goalkeeper coach. Skiverton has done rather well over the last couple of seasons bringing in ‘keepers on loan with successful stays for Stephen Henderson, John Sullivan and Alex McCarthy. The tried and tested method was put to use again when the second loan of the season Jed Steer joined from Norwich. Steer is just eighteen which could be seen as a gamble by many people and could still prove to be, yet in the pre-season build up he has shown capability in all aspects of his game and commands his back four vociferously.
Phew! I think that’s the squad updated, with the possibility of more to come, and fans are starting to get excited about the prospects of the new squad in a new kit attacking a new season. Bookmakers across the board have once again highlighted Yeovil as favourites to be relegated come the end of the season, yet they have been proved wrong by Skivo many times before and he will fight to do so again. Write the Glovers off at your peril and don’t waste your pound by sticking a bet on because with the stability of having more contracts than loans, strong additions to the back line, the return of a super hero, a bit of youthful exuberance, the emergence of players like Ed Upson (that is his real name) and a (metaphorical) boat load of optimism Yeovil will not get relegated.
It is about time that Yeovil took themselves to the next level and aimed for a top half finish again, as Russell Slade did when he reached the play-off final. The overall aim must be to reach the play off places but top half would be a step in the right direction and one that Skiverton as a manager should be prepared to take.
Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger
Ryan tweets at @rpeasland