Club ’82 Loses Its ‘Culture’: Three Veterans Leaving in the Close Season

The lull in inward transfer activity at Bury almost stretches into double digits in terms of the number of days that have elapsed since any newcomers were photoshopped in last season’s home shirt and splashed all over social media.

In a wide-ranging free video interview, manager Lee Clark states once more that James Vaughan is ‘not for sale’ whilst softening both his rhetoric and the fans up for the 24-goal hitman’s inevitable departure latter in the summer. It is hard to see it as anything else, given that the club allowed the local paper to publish a figure on a bid rejected. As anyone who saw Vaughan star in 2016/2017, there is much more to his game than just the more visible ‘output’ and finances will dictate his immediate future with no shortage of interest from sides higher up the ziggurat.

Clark also explained the reasoning behind Leon Barnett’s move south to Northampton Town a fortnight ago and that three more contracted members of the current squad have been told that they can leave, which probably means that somehow, the club will contribute to a compensation package for goalkeeper Ben Williams, centre back (and nominal captain) Antony Kay and the box-to-box stylings of Neil Danns, who is sure to be welcomed warmly at Blackpool should the door at Bloomfield Road be ajar for him after helping them to promotion from the fourth tier at Wembley.

There are two major things I note from this news: the first is that it further symbolises represents the ‘churn’ I feared would happen under his management; the caveat to that is of course that this summer represents his first transfer window at the helm and he was always going to stamp his authority in such a manner. The more cynical element will say that these three moving on in particular is yet another indictment against the name and recruitment policy of former manager David Flitcroft, who now finds himself attempting to take Swindon Town back to League One at the first time of asking. There is some truth in that but even the most ‘dead cert’ signing is inherent with risk.

The second major factor are the ages of the three – they were all born in 1982. With goalkeepers, their chronology tends to go largely ignored. Putting Williams together with Kay and Danns, the trio are the oldest still on the books and their hastened departures will help assuage my own concerns about the age demographics of the first team squad (should they not be replaced with equally grizzled veterans, of course!). This would change the complexion quite considerably as illustrated below:

For the sake of clarity, I have excluded players under 18 who are not yet  on professional deals

Again, goalkeeper aside, that would represent a decent mixture of ages in the current 20-strong roster. Assuming they represent the last first team players to leave, there would be several gaps to fill:

Tsun Dai could yet provide a ‘fifth option’ in the centre of midfield

The focus will again turn to possible additions. Hammering the point home once more, Clark stated in his latest interview that there will be two up front. A fourth option of a different type to Vaughan and Jermaine Beckford is required. Whether that comes from without or within (Rob Harker) is up for debate.

Despite Joe Skarz’ ability to play more centrally, look out for a fourth ‘specialist’ to be brought in, especially with lingering concerns over the fitness of fan favourite Nathan Cameron and Clark’s insistence that Skarz isn’t Greg Leigh’s replacement.

Perhaps the most interesting/important gap to fill is whoever comes in as understudy to Joe Murphy. A new goalkeeper coach is set to be announced in the next week or so and their identity will be crucial in ensuring that the #2 (likely to be much younger and perhaps on loan) is ready to don the gloves should anything happen to the former Huddersfield Town shot-stopper.

I will postulate on the names and faces of all three later in the week.