Andy Scott says he won’t panicked into strengthening his Aldershot Town squad – but is ready to appease some worried fans by unveiling his first two new signings of the summer.
The recent departures of goalkeeper Glenn Morris, captain Craig Stanley and long-serving Adam Mekki have caused an element of concern among the Rec faithful in recent weeks.
And that hasn’t been helped by new revelations that the club is now only operating on a semi full-time basis with player contracts spanning 44 weeks a year instead of the usual 52.
Boss Scott earned huge praise from his peers last summer after piecing together a competitive Conference Premier squad at the 11th hour with some players even signing forms on the coach journey up to Grimsby Town for the opening day fixture.
But, this year, with a number of last year’s squad already tied down to contracts and no fewer than five new additions expected in the coming weeks, Scott is just thankful that his preparations are a lot more advanced than they were 12 months previous.
The boss revealed he has verbally agreed to sign a striker and a centre-back this week with both due to undergo a medical on Monday.
But he insists he is in no rush to fill the five or six gaps left vacant in time for August 9, admitting he is still excited by the prospect of discovering that one little gem once pre-season gets underway.
“We have to cut our cloth accordingly this year,” Scott said. “We have worked hard at this football club to get ourselves on a sound financial footing and you only have to look at the likes of Hereford and Salisbury to see that clubs at this level can struggle. We are not prepared to do that again.
“It’s tough for players out there these days. There are a lot of them who, come July, will be holding out for deals with Football League clubs, then Conference clubs who offer 52-week contracts – for which there are not that many – and then, lastly, clubs like ours with 44-week contracts. We have to realise where we are.
“We were lucky enough to pick up some top players at that late stage of pre-season last year, players like Chris Barker, so we are certainly not panicking, nor will we be in a rush just to sign a player for the sake of it, just to plug a gap. They have to be the right player for this football club.
“That’ll give us 12-13 on verbal contracts, leaving us five or six, including a couple of goalkeepers, so we’re in good shape.”
Scott insists that no comparison or theory can be drawn between the recent departures at the club, which all came about in very different circumstances.
“Glenn [Morris] was a no-brainer. He was offered more money at a League One club [Gillingham] five minutes away from his house. Naturally, we wouldn’t stand in his way and it’s a credit to this club that we’ve been able to showcase him back into the Football League.
“Stanners [Craig Stanley] was on a Football League contract and we made him the best offer we possibly could. He couldn’t afford to come down to that and we can totally understand his position. He leaves with our best wishes.”
The boss did admit, however, he was surprised to lose homegrown talent Mekki this week – but agreed a move away from the ESS after eight years could be the springboard he needed to launch his career.
The 23-year-old made his first-team debut against Macclesfield in February 2011 after graduating from the Shots’ youth academy and made over 100 appearances for the club – including 56 starts – scoring six goals.
But somewhat surprisingly he turned down the offer of a new deal to seek a new challenge elsewhere – and the former Brentford and Sheffield United striker can understand his decision.
“On his day Adam has an abundance of talent and ability and we felt he could be a contributory factor for us this season. But doing it on a consistent basis has proved a problem for him and, at 23, he should be doing that week- in, week out.
“He really should have come of age two years ago, so perhaps he did need to go somewhere else to seek and new challenge and give him a fresh impetus.”