Date: 7th July 2006 at 2:16pm
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It’s probably been the most boring pre-season period in quite a few years, as Kenny Jackett and Huw Jenkins have struggled to bring in new players ahead of the new season in League One.

We all know Jenkins is not afraid to talk to the media prematurely as regards to potential signings and he’s often shot himself in the foot by predicting likely signings too soon.

Darren Pratley was a perfect example a year ago, when he announced he had joined but in fact he signed on loan for Brentford instead. More recently, Gillingham goalkeeper James Brown was 99% certain to join us according to our chairman, before he joined Blackburn Rovers a day later.

Ironically, Pratley has now joined us permanently from Premiership side Fulham, but he’s our only signing this Summer as we’re currently finding it difficult to compete with Championship clubs who are interested in signing the same players as we are.

Jenkins has stated that despite being able to offer the same transfer fees and meeting the same wage demands as Championship clubs, we are losing out because of the simple fact that we cannot offer players Championship football.

Some fans seem to automatically blame Jenkins for losing out on players because he talks to the press too soon, without keeping transfers talks to himself.

Jenkins shouldn’t really get too involved in press talk regarding transfers, surely that’s the manager’s job after a player has signed?

I can’t fault him too much because of the state of the club 3 years ago, and he’s transformed us since then from a club who didn’t have two pennies to rub together to a club offering hundreds of thousands of � �s for players.

Some fans also moan that there’s no news of new transfers, but wouldn’t you prefer Jackett and Jenkins to be quiet until a player has sat down with a pen in hand?

I don’t think Jenkins deserves criticism for our failure to sign Roger Johnson though. Yes, again he told the press we had made a bid and that we were going back in for him after it was rejected, but at no point did he say he was signing, or that a bid had been accepted etc.

Our biggest rivals, Cardiff City ended up signing him for �275,000 and I don’t think we would have bid that much for him anyway.

After our play-off final defeat, Jenkins said we’d be targeting the same players to sign if we got promotion to the Championship. Already, that made it more difficult to bring in 2 or 3 players before the season starts.

I don’t think we can blame Jackett and Jenkins too much for a lack of signings. They are making enquiries everyday for players and the Chairman said recently that they’re hoping to get at least 2 more players in before August 5th.

However, the majority of our targets are Championship-bound, and although it’s good to see us targeting quality players, we are not going to sign these targets if clubs like Hull and Wolves are interested.

We’ve also received a lot of interest for our own players such as Robinson, McLeod and now Ricketts and we can now afford to reject bids while clubs like Brentford are finding it difficult to hang on to their best players. Jay Tabb (who we were rumoured to have made a �100,000 bid for) joined Coventry City while Sam Sodje is also hoping to further his career by joining a Championship club.

Apart from the obvious goalkeeper we need to bring in to compete with Gueret for the No.1 spot, I think we could do with a full back, centre back and right winger.

We only have 3 full backs, and whenever Tate is sidelined this means a switch of flanks for Ricketts which hinders the consistency within the squad. I think this was one of the reasons for our downfall in the second part of the season.

At the start of last year, our team was consistent every week, the players got to know how their team-mates played so we played well as a team. With injuries, suspensions and new players in the New Year though, this was thrown out of the window as Jackett never had a consistent side. New players came in and we started to play as individuals as we struggled to link up well on the attack.

We also need a centre back I think because Monk and Austin give me no confidence when they play at all. Austin is too slow and is always troubled by pacey opposition while Monk I think has struggled for most of last season.

I’m sure Austin would have been released this year if he didn’t have a clause in his contract, which meant he had an automatic 1-year extension.

We need strength in depth in that department and I think we need better replacements than Austin especially if Izzy and Watt get sidelined for any length of time.

Leon Britton is struggling to make a return for the opening day of the season and with Adrian Forbes released in May, we definitely need a new right-winger.

His injury could flare up again during the course of the season so it’s important we bring in a right-sided midfielder.

I think we’re in for a difficult season in 2006-2007, teams who underperformed last year will be far better prepared such as Nottingham Forest and Bristol City. It’ll be very tough to compete with these teams for an automatic promotion place and I’m not so sure we’ll gain promotion.

I’m not being pessimistic, more realistic in my opinion but hopefully I’m wrong!

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