AFTER weeks of speculation and heated debate from various sections of the Albion support, the closing of the transfer window on Monday evening was always going to be the acid test.
Has under fire Albion head of recruitment David Burke been vindicated?
Do the Albion have a stronger squad at the end of the window than what they started with in July?
Obviously, there have been a number of ins and outs and a few near misses on the transfer front, but ostensibly once the new intake have a chance to gel, personally I’m very optimistic.
Both Burke and chief executive Paul Barber had asked some of the disgruntled fans to exercise a degree of patience, and to a degree this stance has been vindicated.
I do have a but – we are as supporters forever being told about money being tight and the significance of the new FFP rules. I would question, in light of the other players being recruited, was the half a million pound outlay for Chris O’Grady really money well spent?
As with the rest of the squad, time will tell, and with the first international break upon us, that all important gelling process gets valuable time over at the training ground.
As a footnote, as a result of my column a few weeks ago, I have been invited by the club to the new training facility at Lancing and, hopefully, will get a chance to sit down with David Burke and find out more about what his job entails.
n After an intensive pre-season training schedule, overseen by former Albion defender Russell Bromage, Worthing FC under-18s start their Ryman Youth League campaign at Eastbourne Town this evening (Thursday).
After two seasons of back-to-back runners-up finishes, this season’s squad is a mix of last season’s ‘year ones’ and new recruits.
My original remit from then boss Chris White nearly five years ago clearly seems to be ongoing, with almost all of the new under-21 squad – who are at home this Saturday to Burgess Hill – being products of the Rebels youth team. A number are also in Adam Hinshelwood’s first-team picture and things are certainly looking up on that front.
Last year, nine players from the youth squad played first-team football. No other club in the whole of the Ryman League could match that statistic, which proves what my team of Calvin Buckland and Steve Hoare do at Woodside Road works and, hopefully, this will continue for the foreseeable future.
n Regardless of the result at Wembley, a couple of worrying aspects from last night’s visit of Norway for the international friendly.
Since it re-opened in 2007, even friendly games were well supported by the paying public, yet at the time of going to press, a half-full national stadium was being predicted.
But perhaps more significant for me was manager Roy Hodgson conceding the fact that a number of his squad were not first choices for their Premier League side. That’s something which in years gone by would have been unthinkable, and a said indictment of the current state of our domestic game.