Monday, 25 March 2013

The Oxford United (almost) End of Season Squad Evaluation

The Class of 12/13 - Who Will Still Be Here in August?

After defeat at Northampton Town, I feel the embers of our vague play-off hopes have now finally been stamped out. The final six games of the season will see us be a lead contributor in the relegation battle with fixtures against Aldershot Town and Accrington Stanley, whilst Rochdale are not completely free from trouble, they travel to the Kassam on 20th April.
Baring this in mind, I've decided to undertake an evaluation of the players currently on the books of OUFC and present my thoughts on who should lead the way out of the exit door in the summer (regardless of contractual situation) and who I want to walk out in a yellow shirt for the start of the 13/14 season.
1. Ryan Clarke - KEEP
Currently side-lined after a double shoulder operation. No question that he is a top goalkeeper at League Two level but I do doubt how well he will recover from such a large operation. Shay Given has never been the same since his own shoulder operation. He is contracted so will clearly stay.
21. Wayne Brown - COACH
Got to become a coach only. Register in case of dire emergency but his playing days are over in my opinion and appearance in the squad will only limit the development of Crocombe.
24. Luke McCormick – OFFER NEW CONTRACT
When he signed, it was said it was only until the summer. However, my doubt surrounding Clarke’s recovery means I would offer him another year’s contract, presuming he doesn’t try and break the bank. Shown to be solid, composed and a very competent goalkeeper.
31. Max Crocombe – KEEP: SEND OUT ON LOAN
Rated highly by all the current coaching staff. Needs a full season of playing football, sitting on our bench with the occasional appearance in the JPT will not develop him. A loan at a BSP club i.e. Woking would do him wonders.

A top player when on form. Often inconsistent but has shown more consistency this season. I would offer a new contract but get a new player in to offer very strong competition. Needs to improve final delivery into the box and cut out the sudden lapses in concentration that contribute to 3 or 4 goals a season.
4. Michael Raynes – KEEP AS COVER
Apparently signed after CW was unable to secure Johnny Mullins. Had a difficult start at OUFC but has grown in confidence as the season has gone on. Reasonably solid defender for L2 level but if we are looking upwards, should only really be back-up to the first team squad.
Provided an entertaining two seasons at the club but it’s clear his legs are on the way out. If he could be convinced to turn to coaching at the club, it would be a great appointment. But too much of a risk to offer a playing deal.
Captain fantastic. Player of the season. First name on the team-sheet. Keep at all costs and get a quality partner alongside him.
110% effort and commitment every week. Can play in 3 positions (RB, CM, DM), fantastic player to have in the squad.
17. Tony Capaldi – RELEASE
Injury prone since he came to the club. Never a stand out player. Let him go.
22. Harry Worley – RELEASE
I rate Worley but never really had a run of games this season. A new start at another club is probably what he needs.
Perhaps, the choice that may spark the most discussion. I would offer Luke a new contract. Proved himself to be reliable and solid.
I would offer Davis a new contract but on the basis that he would be playing on the left hand-side of midfield or on the wing. If he can get his crossing up to a better standard, he would be a great asset to the club and a great alternative to Rigg.

7. Adam Chapman - SELL
Not progressed as much as he should have since his return to the first team squad. Appears to have gone stale with Wilder. A move to Mansfield is closer to home, his partner and child and would see him link-up with his mentor Adam Murray. Best move for everyone.
8. Simon Heslop - RELEASE
Another who has not progressed after a promising start to his OUFC career. A change of scenery may just what he needs.
14. Sean Rigg – KEEP
Had a very good middle of the season but has petered out towards the end. Remains a constant threat as either a winger or a centre-forward.
15. Alfie Potter – KEEP
Ah the enigma that is Alfie. Looks like a world-beater one week and a conference winger the next. If he could become consistent and improve his finishing, we would have a hell of a player on our hands. I’d keep because of his attacking threat but he would be one of the first to be transfer listed if form wasn’t consistent.
19. Lewis Montrose – SEND BACK
Looked a promising signing on paper and had a great debut away at Bradford. Seems prone to hamstring strains and potentially a waste of a wage if he was signed on a full-time contract.
20. Peter Leven – RELEASE
Should be tearing this league apart. Injuries and apparent cockiness means he hasn’t. Let him go and start again somewhere else. Paid too much money to play only half the games in a season.
27. Scott Davies  - OFFER NEW CONTRACT
Solid, can pick a pass and deliver a set piece. Would be very happy if he was a starter in our midfield.

9. James Constable – KEEP
Always likely to get 10+ goals but needs 4 chances in a game to get a goal. However with the right partner, I think he could improve his own game even further.
10. Deane Smalley – RELEASE
Never worked for Smalley at the club. A transfer fee that has proved to be a waste of money. Not scored enough for an apparent striker or got enough assists for a wide player.
11. John Paul Pittman – RELEASE
Another whose injury proneness has killed their career at OUFC. Too much of a risk to offer another contract. Can get an equally as good player in.
18. Justin Richards – RELEASE
Bit of a desperation signing but played well at Bradford away. Will never score a lot of goals in this league. Again, better players out there for the same wage.
25. Josh Parker – RELEASE
Showed flashes of skill but has never scored in his career and not liked doing so since joining the club. Destined for the conference.
Currently out on loan at Staines, I would give him 6 months at a BSP club and see how he does. Under contract, so rated by the club. Unlikely to be the 20+ goal a season man next season but a strong loan spell could really kickstart his career.
29. Tom Craddock – KEEP (But accepted he is going)
Great finisher and intelligent player. I would keep him but it is clear to see from body language in the last few games that he has himself a new club for next season. Will score goals at whatever club that is.

So my OUFC squad heading into pre-season 2013 is:
GK’s: 1st Choice – McCormick, 2nd Choice – Clarke (Crocombe out on loan)
Defenders: 1st Choice – Batt, Wright, O’Brien, Cover – Raynes
Central Midfielders: Davies, Whing
Attacking Midfielders: Potter, Rigg, Davis
Strikers: Constable (Marsh out on loan)
Squad of 12 + Marsh & Crocombe. Plus the YT’s who are considered long-term prospects.

9 Additions: New RB to challenge Batt, LB to challenge O’Brien, Quality CB and another CB as cover,  Two CM’s, 3 Strikers.

Suggested Additions: Lanre Oyebanjo (York), Damian McCrory (Burton), Johnny Mullins (Rotherham), Andy Iro (Stevenage), Robbie Weir (Burton) , Ryan Burge (Port Vale), Alex Lawless (Luton), Jason Walker (York), Jack Lester (Chesterfield), Andy Bishop (Bury).

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