I’m starting to wish I hadn’t spent so much on Christmas. This is one of the down sides to the growing trend of employers paying you early in December… no money in January. Not intentionally of course, I’m just another victim of our buy now face the consequences later society, in other words I’m denying responsibility for some shaky mid-December budgeting when I was already pie eyed on sherry by 10AM most days. I still remember the conversation I had when Mrs AD questioned whether we could actually afford all the booze and presents and decorations and booze… ‘Of course we can, we’ll just have a quiet January. We’ll buy store products rather than brands, I won’t got to any away games….’.
What seemed like fun at the time has come back to haunt me big time, as the Dons prepare to travel to Port Vale with five new signings – and that number might have changed by the time I finish typing this and hit the ‘post button’. What would be an unmissable game under normal circumstances has been elevated to the level where you’d rob your granny to watch thanks to the return of a Dons legend… I’d actually quite happily rob my gran, the problem being my gran lives in New Addington, is quite capable of fending off the feral local youth who roam the streets outside her house, and by comparison would make mincemeat of a pampered, bloated thirty-something who hasn’t seen any hand to hand action since a playground scrap in 1989 (unless you include a few vigorous handshakes).
Of the five signings the return of Jason Euell was always going to steal the headlines, and I’ll come on to him a little later. Yet we’ve also permanently added both a centre half and forward (breaking our transfer record in the process), and two promising youngsters on initial month-long loans. The centre half needs no introduction, Callum McNaughton’s ever extending loan deal mercifully converted (as far as our administration and their West Ham counterparts, forced to fill in and send off the relevant forms on a monthly basis), he is now Our Player for two and a half years. There’s no doubt he is still young and raw, but I’ve seen enough to accept he’s already good enough for this level, and can only get better – I’m looking forward to him forging a partnership with the impressive MMK that could see us through the next couple of years.
Joining him from West Ham is George Moncur, albeit on a month loan, along with Billy Knott from Sunderland. Loanees from academy sides are a bit of an unknown quantity when they first arrive, especially as neither of them have any Football League experience. Not a huge gamble for the club to take either of them for a month, they’ll either perform or the won’t, but the buzz surrounding Billy Knott suggests the likelihood is we’re going to benefit big time from his time at the club especially considering our two impact wide players in Djilali and Jolley are injured and suspended.
With Jack Midson toiling on his own with little help up front, the arrival of Byron Harrison gives us another attacking option. Finally Brown has captured the Kedwell replacement he has been after – for that is how Harrison will be judged. Harrison scored a few last year for Stevenage, eight in twenty appearances being a great return, and it seems Stevenage just went up a little to quickly for him to adjust. We’ll expect goals from him as a minimum, but its going to be interesting to see the impact his arrival has on our forward play in general.
A goal on his debut will help, which brings us onto our final signing, a guy whose we first saw spanking an overhead kick into the top corner of the Southampton net during a dreary and otherwise miserable day… We talked about Jason Euell coming back to the club in the summer, and the general feeling seemed to be not breaking the bank (and the wage structure) to bring him in at the expense of young payers who had earned their crack at the Football League. Right now his experience and proven ability are exactly what we need. Although his arrival might seem at first to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, even a publicity stunt, I would argue that even if that was the only reason Jason Euell has been brought back to the club, it will be worth it.
Although I won’t be travelling to Port Vale, there are a good couple of hundred others heading up who otherwise wouldn’t have been going. The Macclesfield game, already targeted by the club with a cut price ticket offer, is set to be a little busier than your average evening game at Kingsmeadow. The feel good factor is back at the club, we now need the players to do their part and win a couple of games… it’s time for us to start looking up instead of down…