New contracts for key players announced
Neal Ardley has confirmed that experienced pair Andy Barcham and Paul Robinson have signed new contracts at AFC Wimbledon.
Barcham and Robinson (pictured left and right above at the training ground) both joined in the summer of 2015 after being team-mates at Portsmouth and, of course, their first season at Wimbledon ended with Wembley glory in May.
Speaking about the great news during an interview for Dons Player today, Neal Ardley said: “We have extended the contracts of Paul Robinson and Andy Barcham. It is just a case of trying to take the good recruitment from the the last few years and making sure that you don’t need major surgery in the summer. You want to keep trying to improve the team, which is never easy, because we have managed to assemble a really good squad over the last four years.
“In our first couple of summers it was sort of 10 in and 10 out. It is hard because when you sign new players you have to get them up to speed. We’ve seen that with Lyle Taylor and Tom Elliott last season and with Dominic Poleon and Tom Elliott this season. It’s important that you try to improve, but you don’t want a major overhaul.”
Barcham, who turned 30 in December, has featured in 28 games this season, scoring six goals in all competitions, and Neal is delighted to retain his services.
“In our first season here ‘Coxy’ recommended a player from Scunthorpe and I went to watch him a couple of times,” added Neal. “I came back and said that Scunthorpe had this little winger who just wants to take people on every time he gets the ball. It was ‘Barchy’ and I was so impressed with him back then. I tracked him all the way, but then lost out on him to Portsmouth, before finally getting him from Portsmouth.
“If you look through the seasons when he has played the games, he has scored and assisted goals. It’s hard to find too many players who have got unbelievable ability to have one versus one domination – ‘Barchy’ is right up there with the best of them at that. If you get him one on one with people, they are going to have to defend well to stop him getting an end product. He brings that to the party and he is a fit boy who has a few more years left in him.”
On extending the stay of Paul Robinson, Neal spoke about the defender in glowing terms after his impressive spell at Wimbledon so far.
“Age is a number,” said Neal. “People say, ‘oh well, he is 35, that might be him now’. If that was the case, Dannie Bulman would have retired five years ago! As a manager, you look with your own eyes and you know the character of the players. I played with ‘Robbo’ when he was age 21/22 and I have never seen anyone so dedicated and professional. He has looked after his body so well and he has not got an ounce of fat on him.
“He had a spell out with his groins at Millwall so he did not have lots of wear and tear during that period. He has come back stronger than ever. ‘Robbo’ has got a running style probably similar to myself as a youngster! He probably looks more tired than he actually is, but he is a fit boy. You would not be able to find many with the qualities he has.”
Paul Robinson has made 39 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring three goals.
. Dons PlayerInterviews with Neal Ardley, Andy Barcham and Paul Robinson are now on