Struggle beckons for Bucks
Part-time Telford struggled for consistency last term and while the Bucks are settled off the pitch, boss Andy Sinton has work to do in the transfer market before August’s kick-off…
One of the positives to emerge from the wreckage of the liquidated Telford United in 2004 was the supporter-led phoenix club AFC Telford United. The demise of the former club allowed fans to install themselves at the centre of a new entity, righting the wrongs of the previous administration. Wimbledon had used their disbandment to the same effect two years earlier but as the Dons discovered last term, the model only allows for so much growth. It is a wall which confronts the Bucks, too.
United are admirably stable but they find themselves clawing at a glass ceiling as they bid to compete in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Still part-time, Andy Sinton must use all of his non-league know-how to circumvent those limitations. The former England international admits he is targeting quality rather quantity as he seeks to rebuild his squad.
He has managed to retain a number of the players which battled to a 20th-placed finish last term – five points clear of the drop zone – but when it comes to attracting new arrivals, stability isn’t always easy to sell, particularly when the throng of Midlands clubs are offering more significant incentives.
However, that is not to detract from Telford’s laudable approach, which guards against the sort of trouble the previous outfit found themselves in ten years ago.
Sinton remains a respected figure at New Bucks Head after guiding the club to promotion in his first campaign in charge; however, the 46-year-old is far-from bullet proof. Although survival was the club’s primary objective in 2010/11, some supporters have questioned his in-game decision-making, as well as his occasionally chaotic activity in the transfer market.
Indeed, Sinton has taken his time to bolster his ranks this summer. Pre-season began with a skeleton squad and included a handful of trialists, leaving the manager with plenty of work to do in the weeks before August’s kick-off. But last term was Sinton’s first at this level and the mistakes made can justifiably be put down as useful rivets in a learning curve. His task now is to iron out those errors to make the Bucks competitive once more, but the job isn’t getting any easier.
The board is unlikely to make any snap judgements when it comes to his future, even if United start slowly. However, some supporters have raised concerns over the presence of assistant boss Mike Davies, believing that the former TNS chief may be eyeing Sinton’s hot seat. Although Davies, who arrived in January, was quick to play down his managerial ambitions during July’s fans’ forum.
There is a certain degree of trepidation, particularly in light of the club’s slow progress in the transfer market. While United were always a step ahead of real relegation bother last term, they never managed to quite pull away into mid-table. They were rarely blown away by opponents – 12 of their 20 league defeats came by a one-goal margin - but with the quality in midfield yet to arrive, there is a fear that a resolute defence alone may not be enough to herald improvement.
Much of the scoring burden will again fall on the shoulders of Chris Sharp, who struck 11 times last season, but he must do it without either Adam Proudlock or Kyle Perry as a foil – both have moved on, to Chester and Nuneaton respectively.
But while there is an inevitable frustration over the club’s meagre bargaining power – Proudlock rejected a deal to drop down a division – it is tempered by the realisation that theirs is model which values the merits of sustainability over risky dream-chasing.
The backroom operation is set up for future development but not at any real pace, which may not be a bad thing. Wimbledon took time to turn fully professional and this is a realistic example for Telford to follow. The Bucks can boast a respectable core fanbase; they are in a position from which to build but their continued presence in the Blue Square Bet Premier is crucial to their development. They must learn from the mistakes of last season, recruit wisely and remain prudent.
The Bucks are odds on to be relegated but the measure of stability which they possess may just give them the edge over the likes of Dartford, Hyde and Nuneaton. Sinton’s men appear to have a solid defensive foundation but they look short of creativity in midfield and support for Sharp up front.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Woking, Wrexham
Best of the Bets Show
- @OllieHolt22 It's also going to be the most biased thing you've ever read. Loved his last one, but nearly every page needed a pinch of salt. — 22 min 34 sec ago
- If Arsene Wenger steps down this summer, Twitter will be the world's longest-serving manager of tiresome tweets. — 35 min 12 sec ago
- @pitexchange @keitthpunter Not saying it will be easy. But given the wages they pay, they can afford a good, experienced manager. — 46 min 14 sec ago
- Tulisa leaves X Factor and Pulis leaves Stoke. Straight swap, right? — 51 min 26 sec ago
- @mikemccarthy Ha... how many of them were wet ones? — 54 min 34 sec ago