With the season now over and only Euro 2008 to quench our thirst for football, minds have understandably become restless; inevitably resulting in the season of unfounded transfer rumours and unending contract negotiations – the season of the football agent. A famous man once said “There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics”. And then there’s the summer transfer window.
At Dale this is of course no different, with theories flying about concerning both new players and ones we already have. In seasons gone by we usually look to the transfer window to offer us some miracle to transform our fortunes; now it is quite the opposite, we need to keep the core of our squad intact whilst possibly making a few adjustments here and there, strengthening the team without disrupting it.
A major step towards keeping our playoff team has already happened; Sammy Russell has signed a new contract, thus giving us two full-time goalkeepers (him and Spencer). He was almost certainly be our first-choice keeper for the upcoming season. This unfortunately means it’s “bye bye” to Tommy Lee, who impressed but ultimately was a victim of the situation; he deserved a contract but we could not afford him one. He will no doubt end up somewhere else in the North West; Chester, Accrington, Morecambe, somewhere like that.
From then on, our team pretty much is sewn up for next season in terms of starters. You’d expect Russell, Ramsden, McArdle, Stanton, Kennedy, Higginbotham (or Muirhead), Perkins, Jones, Rundle, Dagnall and le Fondre to start the majority of games next season. But however, we do need strengthening, as our playoff final defeat proved. We need a different kind of striker now that Howe has gone back to Peterborough, we need backup for midfield, and we could do with an extra defender who can play left-back – a utility man.
On the striker front there seems to have been little action so far. Derek Holmes, Grant Holt, Glenn Murray, Martin Gritton, Steve Morison, Michael Boulding and others have all been mentioned as the big-man to Dagnall’s small-man; but none of these have been confirmed as targets by either Rochdale or the other clubs. Derek Holmes seems the likeliest of these to be substantiated given that we bid for him in January, but this summer nothing has been doing so far. Boulding has been linked heavily with Rotherham recently, Holt with Carlisle and Hartlepool, Morison with a few other League Two clubs. None have actually moved clubs yet though.
As for our own strikers moving elsewhere, there are some wildly inaccurate rumours about Adam le Fondre flying about. Mentions of bids from Leicester City have been filling the message-boards of both teams despite Leicester not even having a manager at this point. The usual figure mentioned is £600,000, which is stupidly high for a League Two player, especially one that hasn’t been a regular starter for the last two months of the season. The rumours have been even getting personal, with fans from both teams hawking Adam’s Facebook page and bandying about his personal status as if it were proof that he is indeed moving to the Foxes (“Adam le Fondre is off” laughably turned out to about his summer holidays; “Adam le Fondre is pissed off at people misquoting him” was his unambiguous reply, proof that players do read the forums). These rumours are not as audacious as the “Alfie to Man City” one a few months back, but are equally unlikely to happen.
Another player supposedly wanted is Adam Rundle by Crewe Alexandra, as predicted by this article. The probable fee has been arbitrarily declared as “175k”, despite the fact that the author of the article has no connected to CAFC, a fact many message boarders seemed to have overlooked. I don’t think the premise of the article was to start false rumours, but you can understand why both Crewe supporters and Dale fans have started talking. We’re just bored, we need to have our fix of football talk no matter how petty.
Perhaps the biggest rumour of the summer so far is the ongoing Nicky Adams saga. I say ongoing, but in reality it’s not gone anywhere. The situation remains that Adams is an uncontracted player at Bury, who have offered him a bigger salary for the 08/09 season – if we were to acquire Adams, we would have to pay a fee. These are the only facts. But on both sides of Heywood, fans have been declaring that “the deal is done” or “the deal is off” depending on which uncle of which brother of which mate you talk to. Adams has been described as “arrogant” by some in Bury, presumably for not wanting to play for Bury all his life, and has supposedly been talked into the move by Dave Flitcroft and Tom Kennedy (both of them Bury rejects who went onto bigger and better things). While it’s not hard to appreciate the joy this move would bring to Dale fans, I can’t help but think that people know less than they think they do.