Transfer window: Liveblog – July 2019

We’re in month three of the creeping death of the transfer window. If you can bear it; you can read all about May and June here. In short, Rob Hall renewed his contract, Curtis Nelson didn’t, Alex Gorrin signed plus a slew of under-23s. We’re still waiting on Chris Cadden from Motherwell.

Elsewhere, Kemar Roofe and Callum O’Dowda have been subject to speculation, although news on those fronts has reduced to a dribble. Strap in, July’s here…

Monday 1 July 2019

Seems a bit fanciful, but then this is the club who signed Ricky Holmes, Teeny Tiny Jack Payne is wanted by Gillingham after his release from Huddersfield.

Probably the least surprising news of modern times is that Tariq Fosu has signed for us taking another one off our ‘possible’ list. Talking of which, Chris Cadden’s move from Motherwell might be on the skids as Sunderland are now interested.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Oxford City goal machine Kabongo Tshimanga, frequently linked with us – making him a modern day Norman Sylla – has signed with the decidedly less glamorous Boreham Wood in the Conference.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

We knew Teeny Tiny Jack Payne wasn’t going anywhere as inauspicious as Gillingham. He’s signed for Lincoln City instead.

Thursday 4 July 2019

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once… Chris Cadden has now gained the interest of Columbus Crew in the USA who can’t actually play him due to overseas player restrictions. So, if they did buy him, they might loan him to us. However, they’re quibbling over the fee. The impasse could leave a gap for Sunderland to exploit, except they’re restricted due to ongoing discussions about a takeover. Got that?

Friday 5 July 2019

Tyrone Marsh and Robbie Cundy; both ‘future’s of the club’ during their time in the juniors have signed for Boreham Wood and Exeter (on loan from Bristol City) respectively.

Sunday 7 July 2019

On the day that Oxford play Rangers in a friendly, the universe continues to contract. It seems the Glaswegians want Leeds (because it’s always Leeds) striker Kemar Roofe. The price being quoted is £5million, which seems a paltry sum given that’s not that far north of what Leeds paid us.

Monday 8 July 2019

Spelling’s worst nightmare Fiacre Kelleher, has re-joined Macclesfield Town where, apparently, he spent last season on loan.

Tuesday 9 July 2019

A decent legit rumour; Oxford have tabled a £500,000 bid for Kilmarnock centre-back Stuart Findlay.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Cosmopolitan sophistocat Çhrïstøphę Wîldë has resisted the lure of the gutter; after being linked to a number of Championship clubs following some unrest at Sheffield United.

As baffling transfers of the summer go, Tsun Dai’s move to Wolves for genuine money will take some beating.

Ched Evans is in KRob’s sights after he scored a bucketload of goals for Fleetwood last season.

And, as predictable as the sun rising in the morning, MApp didn’t get the Donny Rovers job, Darren Moore did.

Thursday 11 July 2019

KRob’s hopes of bringing Luke ‘Garbs’ Garbutt back to Oxford have been dashed now signed for Ipswich Town.

Sunday 14 July 2019

HITC, a site of questionable credibility, claims Neil Lennon has been watching Sheffield United’s Gorgeous George Baldock. He’s been keeping an eye on him for over a year, but only admits in the final paragraph that luring him north is a completely different kettle of fish.

Monday 15 July 2019

Donegal’s finest, John O’Bika has is on trial at Stevenage with the view to a long term injury.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Itchy footed midfielder Callum O’Dowda is on the verge of a move to Fulham having got bored at Bristol City. We should be set to benefit from a decent sell-on fee, although the clubs are quibbling over the fee.

Elsewhere, Marcus Browne could be set to leave West Ham with Manuel Pellegrini preferring some ready made wing work rather than making his own.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Oxford have given up in their pursuit of Stuart Findlay after a number of other clubs got involved jacking the price up. Perhaps KRob should keep his cards slightly closer to his chest?

Thursday 18 July 2019

Goalkeeper Max Crocombe has joined Brisbane Roar where he’ll flatter to deceive and Dan Crowley will be joining PClot at Birmingham City for an argument after he signed for £700,000.

Monday 22 July 2019

(1, 2, 3, 4) Toni Martinez has signed for Portuguese team Famalicão following his release from West Ham. In a brief panic, the Football League World website claim that Blackburn are tracking Simon Eastwood, although they are also on the verge of signing Christian Walton from Wigan.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Gavin Whyte speculation has gone quiet in recent weeks. Cardiff City are apparently preparing a derisory £1.5m bid.

Holy moley; Chris Cadden has signed from Motherw… nope, Columbus Crew. A credible explanation for the less-than-conventional signing is that signing via the Crew, who have a tangential link to board member Eric Thohir, avoids paying compensation to Motherwell, which seems like a bit of a scam.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Marcus Browne has gone all Marvin Johnson and is heading for Middlesborough.

Friday 26 July 2019

The best defender in the land Joe Skarz has popped up at Kettering Town.

Saturday 27 July 2019

The final pre-season fixtures of the summer have seen a few players crawl out from the woodwork. Jonte ‘angle’ Smith is on trail at Cheltenham, Donegal’s finest Jon O’bika has popped up at Cambridge United, Todd Kane has signed for QPR and Scott Davies has joined Slough Town.

Monday 29 July 2019

With a sense of resignation, it’s been confirmed that Gavin Whyte has been signed by Cardiff for something like £2 million; some way short of the £5 million the club apparently were asking for. Just as that news sank in, came the news we’ve signed Ben Woodburn from Liverpool on a season’s loan.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

The season must be approaching because there’s been a signing bonanza. Anthony Forde, who last season was at Rotherham has signed along with Elliot Moore from Leicester. 

Good Friday agreements

The last minute draw against Morecambe brought the most vocal complaints yet from the East Stand. However, the more concerning thing has to be the fact that come the end of the season, we’ll have something like 18 players free to leave. 

The temptation, after Friday’s draw with Morecambe, is to launch into another debate about the future of Chris Wilder. But his fate is surely sealed one way or the other; whichever side Ian Lenagan falls on, he’s not likely to need anymore evidence to aid his decision. Friday’s performance was not bad, it was average and massively frustrating, like our season.

I do take some exception to two key criticisms of Wilder, however. The first is the complaint that his interviews on the radio are full of excuses, when in fact they are merely explanations. His explanation of the mistakes that were made in the lead up to the equaliser were descriptions of fact not excuses.

I also doubt that Wilder is not aware of the link between the players’ performances and his responsibility as manager. So while he talked about his players actions – not taking the ball into the corner, Constable getting caught offside – he’s not simply absolving himself of his ultimate accountability to deliver performances.

The question that Lenagan needs to answer is whether Wilder can establish forward momentum and more crucially, what impact his presence might have on the club in the short term, not least in terms of season ticket sales.

So, that’s me not debating Chris Wilder. The more concerning thing is the number of players who are about to go out of contract. By my reckoning 19 players can walk away come May.

The club have options on Crocombe, Marsh, Potter and Davis, and it seems fairly logical that they will be taken up. Crocombe and Marsh are a sign that there have been improvements, at least, in youth development. Davis can be a bit heavy footed, but he has pace and strength and gives options down the left. Potter’s form is fitful, but he offers creativity and, though its often difficult to see it, something approaching a goal threat.

You’d expect Damian Batt and Andy Whing to be offered new deals. However, I think Whing may go; he’s not stupid and will know that he has value in the market at League 1 or 2 level. The club’s potential is not what it was when he originally signed, there’ll be no Leven or Duberry type signings this summer, will he want to stick around to see whether things improve when there’s a risk he’ll spend another two years treading water? He’ll be 32/33 at the end of another contract, so you’d think this was his last chance at commanding a reasonable salary before he retires. Batt seems settled at Oxford, he’s got other interests, the manager likes him, and it’s difficult to see why he wouldn’t sign.

Last season, alongside Whing, there was a glut of comparatively big time signings. Tony Capaldi barely featured in his first year due to injury, and has done little to suggest he’ll be the first in the queue for a new contract. Deane Smalley has had a torrid time, although there’s something about his general application  that makes me think that he’s worth another year. Jon-Paul Pittman whose injuries suggest he hasn’t got the robustness we need; I can’t see him staying.

The big two from 2011 were Peter Leven and Michael Duberry. If Leven is offered a new contract, then it’s surely going to be on terms that reflect his general lack of availability. I doubt he’ll take that sort of offer and, while he still maintains some kind of reputation, will move on. Duberry, I think, may be interested in another season, especially as this season as been so wretched for him. I think there’s a chance the club may oblige in the vein hope that he’ll recreate the commanding form of his first season. I think that’s a mistake. When fit, he’s the best defender in the club and can be one of the best in the league, but age plays against him. Duberry was part of a strategy to have accelerated success, this doesn’t seem to have worked, it’s time to move to something else.

We’re also seeing the expiration of the post-promotion contracts with Tom Craddock, Simon Heslop and Harry Worley all up for renewal. I still think Craddock is a class act, but his style (less aggressive than Constable and Smalley) and his injury record play against him. His future, I think, is based on whether alternatives can be found, but I also think that his goalscoring record will see him getting other offers. I’d be surprised if he was at the club next year.

Simon Heslop has continuously flattered to deceive. Scorer of howitzer goals in his first season in particular, he now looks like someone who doesn’t even want to play football anymore. Worley also just doesn’t seem to have the extra gear in his development. He was part of a error prone defence in the first year back, it seemed Duberry could come in and steady the ship while Worley found his feet. While I think that he may have a future as an impact striker, there’s no way the club will take the time to test that theory. Neither will be at the club next year.

Which leaves more recent signings; I like Scott Davies and think it worthy of a new contract, and O’Brien offers reliability we’re looking for. Parker is willing, but replaceable. And I can’t see the club using up unnecessary wages on McCormick if Ryan Clarke is coming back with Crocombe and Brown as cover.

All of which could leave us with a gaping hole next season. All of which suggests summer risks becoming a massive scramble just for bodies let alone the class we need or that Wilder will be going and the decisions are being delayed to give his replacement more options.

Is he the saviour or just another very naughty boy?

Tuesday’s defeat to Southend in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy saw the end of a surprisngly glorious run in a particularly inglorious competition. Where one thing ends, another starts as Tyrone Marsh marked his much anticipated debut with a goal and a pretty good shift. The start of something beautiful? Perhaps.  

When I was growing up, based on very limited information available to me, I assumed that certain things were given. I assumed that all teams were on a trajectory that would eventually lead them to glory in a Wembley final. I had three reference points for this; I supported Ipswich Town when Bobby Robson took them to the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, I supported Oxford United as Jim Smith took them to the top flight before handing the reigns to Maurice Evans and onto Wembley, and I read about Roy Race and Melchester Rovers, and their relentless pursuit of glory.

I also believed that every team had a star striker; Roy Race, Paul Mariner, John Aldridge, Dean Saunders. And I believed that every team had a homegrown hero.

First, there was Andy Thomas and Kevin Brock, then Joey Beauchamp, Chris Allen, Paul Powell, Chris Hackett, Sam Ricketts, Dean Whitehead; a procession of homegrown success stories spanning a couple of decades. But there was a barely perceptible trend; whilst not wholly linear, each batch of homegrown stars was slightly less able than the previous set. For every Joey Beauchamp, there was an increasing number of Mark Druce’s. As you get older, there’s the horrible moment you begin to realise that the conveyor belt of homegrown success is beginning to pump out a load of poop.

You begin to realise, these players are like fattening cattle, they’re really only being prepared for sale. But in a sense, that was OK because selling on players you’ve seen grow up has its own satisfaction. Especially when they’re being fattened at somewhere like Oxford, because its not so galling to see them disappear off to the top flight. Slowly, though, they’re not being picked up by top flight teams, but by teams at the same level as you, then teams lower than you, then local park teams.

There were people like Simon Weatherstone, who scored a hat-trick in the reserves against Arsenal, and Simon Marsh whose solid performances lead him to England Under-21 status and pretty much anyone Mike Ford decided to play when he was caretaker manager. As we entered the Conference, there were people like James Clarke and Alex Fisher. And Aaron Woodley, who for at least one Radio Oxford preview show was being rushed into first team action in order to boost his transfer price.

We love home grown stars; they are us. Fitter, faster, better looking, more skilful versions of ourselves. But most importantly, they live near us. OK, so they might actually be the sort of people in low cut t-shirts, earrings, Ugg boots and sculptured hair that you want to kick in the bollocks. But when they’ve been been defiled of all this frippery and put into a yellow shirt, they look like an innocent new born. We want them to succeed like they’re our children.

We like to believe their strengths are infinite, their weaknesses don’t exist. In recent weeks there has been a big call for Tyrone Marsh to start. Most people had never seen him play at all, and only the 118 that went to Plymouth in the JPT had seen him in the first team. But some simply knew he was the saviour.

The consensus seems to be that Wilder needed to play Marsh; ignoring that our frailties were principally at the back.

Statistically speaking, if you label enough people the saviour, one should turn out to be exactly that. There was palpable excitement that he was picked to start against Southend. Every ball placed in front of him was greeted with near hysteria; “GO ON TY”.

Whether Marsh turns out to be a Beauchamp or a Mark Druce time will tell. But he didn’t look out of his depth, in fact he physcially he looked the part and got himself into good positions, had a decent number of chances and scored a good goal.

It was a refreshing debut in a refreshing game; the crowd was surprisingly sparse; the JPT isn’t exactly the most exciting competition, but a semi-final of any competition which ends up at Wembley has got to be worth a punt. We can all debate endlessly the importance of the JPT, but this season has been great. Those who didn’t come missed perhaps the best game we’ve had at the Kassam since Swindon in the, um, JPT.