Steel seems to be the order of the day in the Conference; those able to stick their boot in seem to excel whereas the creatives are quickly neutralised for being fancy-dans. Carl Pettefer and, in particular, Martin Foster were both excellent all season because they both were tenacious in everything they did. Foster would have been my player of the season had he been with us all season. Both should provide the requisite grit next season.
Andy Burgess is an enigma, when he’s on form he’s probably the most talented player in the league; but for a lot of last term he struggled to make an impact. His storming form early on meant that the team settled into a system which fed everything through him; when he failed to perform the team couldn’t find another outlet to make things happen. Yemi took on the mantle as the season progressed, but whereas Burgess can make teams, Yemi provides a slipstream in which others thrive. I think I’d retain Burgess on balance, but aim to divert some of the playmaking attention away from him. However, it looks like Jim Smith thinks otherwise.
Danny Rose was brought in to do pick up what Burgess couldn’t carry, I think everyone appreciated his application and enthusiasm for a cause that wasn’t his, however he was occasionally overrun in the chaos of a Conference midfield. I not sure whether it’s worth trying to keep him; though a better player than Foster and Petterfer, you suspect he’ll be kicked into submission once word the got out. His brand: captain of the Manchester United reserves should secure him a decent contract further up the league.
You knew when Eddie Hutchinson was about to limp off the field, because he was having a decent game. When Hutchinson was fit and playing well, he looked a worthy replacement for Christ Hargeaves. But he was fit so infrequently, one has to be a question mark over whether he can last a season.
This leaves Old Braveheart himself, on paper age and wage both count against Hargreaves in terms of getting a new contract. But he was one of the stars of the run in and he seemed to be fit. It’s unlikely he’ll go on much longer before doing a Gavin Johnson and fall apart in front of your eyes. I would have been tempted to keep him on though, if his wage weren’t too high, although when players’ legs do go, they can go fast and perhaps Jim Smith felt he didn’t have a whole season left in him.
Next, and finally: The strikers