Glyn Hodges has spoken extensively about the challenge of bringing in the right players this summer, as he works with determination to build a competitive squad for season 2020/21.
In last month’s squad update, our manager talked about restructuring the squad to fit the finances available, but exciting times are also ahead with our new stadium taking shape.
“When I first came back to the club I knew it was on the horizon, but there were a lot of things to overcome, which we’ve done,” said Glyn. “The fans have been truly magnificent to keep dipping their hands in their pockets. It was important that we moved into the new stadium in League One. It is vital, by hook or by crook, that we put a squad and a team together to sustain our status and see if we can kick on.
“The unique selling point would be to bring players down and show them the stadium, but we haven’t been able to do that, so we made a video to send out to agents and players. It has gone down really well, so that’s exciting. If it gives us the edge and they want to come and play for us at this brand new stadium, we have to use every advantage we can get. It’s exciting times ahead and if you are a player you want to come and play here. The way the stadium is shaping up, it looks absolutely magnificent.
“If you look at last season and break it down, we only played 35 matches, but if you write off the first 10 we accumulated enough points in 25 matches to stay in this division. The points tally for those 25 games was very good, so it’s something that excites me for next season, as long as we can improve on that. I’m sure we can because there were games that we let slip. The goal was to be in League One at Plough Lane and it wasn’t great the way the season finished, but don’t take anything away from what the players achieved. To stay up after the first 10 games we had, I can’t speak highly enough of them and I can’t wait for the season to get started again.”
During an in-depth Zoom chat with Rob Cornell, Glyn spoke enthusiastically about the steps taken to get recruitment right, working in collaboration with Assistant Manager Nick Daws.
“One thing positive to come out of the lockdown is that we’ve had four of the scouts on their laptops and they’ve been more productive,” added Glyn. “You are cutting out the travelling and the games, so they have done a lot more on videos. We’ve got some good scouting platforms and there are several places that they can go and find footage and get stats on players. We’ve now got a real detailed and extensive database of players. Of course, when you do target a player you want to go and see the lad play, but at this moment in time it’s not possible, so we’ve tried to be a bit smarter and we are trying to get more for our money.
“I’ve got my succession plan with all my players in place. I’ve probably got three earmarked for each position, that’s including the current squad, so I’m just trying to build it up. Some scouts will sit on the fence and say ‘I’m not sure’, but I like the fact that our scouts are saying ‘Yes, sign him’. I’m looking at the players as well. We are not 50/50, we are saying ‘he will fit the system, but he won’t’. We are being really thorough in our work.
“We are building a stadium, so a lot of the finances have been geared to that. We need to make sure that the key players we’ve got, who will get better, are looking at the club and thinking, ‘blimey, we haven’t got as many players, but we’ve got more quality than quantity this year’. We’ve got to make sure that we bring the players in that give us a positive force going forward.
“We’ve signed a lot of the younger boys, but they are not tried and tested. We need to get more players in and get moving fast. We’ve not got enough at this precise moment, so we’ve got to add and make the squad stronger, but it’s only early so watch this space.
“If you are trying to punch above your weight, and you are not competing with Sunderland, Ipswich and Portsmouth on the monetary side of things, you’ve got to be a bit cuter and have the head start on how we do things with recruitment. We have to get that right. It’s something we know we have to get spot-on.”
One part of the transfer market that Glyn is determined to get right once again is loan signings. Max Sanders and Marcus Forss were fine examples of what can be achieved in the loan market, as they both made big impacts after joining from Brighton and Brentford respectively.
“We are allowed five loans and we will do five," added Glyn. "You are gambling on them a bit and we like to get players who will be on their second loans. You need that bit of experience, but sometimes you are not going to get that. We have got our eye on it as we are speaking to clubs now. I didn’t like January. I think January is a nightmare anyway, but it was a rush and a panic. Then you are looking to make decisions that you didn’t really want. That’s why we held back. I want to get stuff done quickly and early. I know nothing is happening yet, but there are things moving forward. The problem with loans is that the clubs may not let them out until the end of pre-season. We need to do our work and get ready for the new season. That’s a difficult one with the loans, but they will definitely form a key part of the squad.”
You can watch the 18-minute interview with Glyn below, which also includes an update from the manager on Anthony Hartigan’s contract situation and his search for a new goalkeeper.