It’s the biggest day of the close season, aside from the fixture release, for both players and fans alike – the day of the retained and released list. For Barnet though, it seemed a little strange, obviously still with no manager in place. The decision to oversee matters was left with Paul Fairclough. With no real news of note the last couple of weeks on the club’s official website, it was refreshing to finally see something of such importance. Like any other club, rumours circulated on Twitter, before the club announced who was staying and who was going. Prior to the story online, Sam Cox tweeted: “Just received a letter… didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that was coming!!!”, and later on today went on to say: “Unfortunately got the news that I won't be at Barnet FC next season...Firstly I want to just thank all the fans for always supporting me... & believing me throughout my 2 year period at the club...It's unfortunate I never really got a decent run in the side but I can say that... I gave 100% every time I stepped on the pitch/training field...I'm happy to say that during my time I made some gd friendships on and off” (@TheSamCox).
It wasn’t only Barnet players tweeting – the Gillingham players released only found out via Twitter that their services were no longer required. Former Bee, Simon King tweeted: “disappointed to find out on Twitter that I had been released, but I don’t want that to leave a sour not for me ‘cause I have had a quality time at the Gills and met some lifelong friends” as well as “obviously very disappointed to b leaving, felt I was over my injury nightmare and thought I still had a lot to give” (@s_kingy05). Injury or not, I’d love to see Kingy back at Underhill. Other than the defenders we’ve had on loan – the likes of Hector and Saville – I believe since his departure, the defence has really been lacking, and we need a player like him. I always thought he was a great defender that deserved to be playing higher, but the injuries have certainly hindered this. I say sign him up – everyone would welcome him back with open arms!
Now onto our retained and released list. Firstly it’s goodbye to the following: Dean Brill, Sam Cox, Darren Dennehy, Mark Marshall, Izale McLeod, Alassane N’Diaye, and Jordan Parkes.
A lot of the names on that list will come as no real surprise to some. Parkes, despite having a decent first season with the club (after a successful loan spell in 2008), barely featured last season, also having an unsuccessful loan spell at Farnborough Town. It is a shame it didn’t work out for him, because there was a lot of promise when he joined from Watford – over the two years he found himself drop in the pecking order, and when the loanees joined, it was obvious he would have no real future.
N’Diaye, too, didn’t feature an awful lot for the first team, despite coming off the bench on numerous occasions. I didn’t personally rate him; he didn’t really add much to the team, and the fact that fans from his previous clubs have said a similar thing, speaks volumes.
With the FA finally giving the verdict on the Mark Marshall drug case and banning him from all competitive football for two years, it was no surprise to anyone that the club have terminated his contract – not much else to say on that matter!
Dennehy, too, has seen most of last season from the sidelines with injury. He also missed most of the previous season, after retaining a foot injury, back in Septemeber 2010. He made his comeback against Colchester in the JPT, but was soon ruled out again. Injury aside, he was a decent defender, and Gillingham (where he spent a period on-loan) fans sing his praises. It will be interesting to see where he ends up, and hopefully can stay injury-free. Like a couple of the others, he took to Twitter, tweeting: “Would like to thank my boys at Barnet Fc for ther friendships the past couple seasons, thank the fans for there support even thou I was injured and couldn't perform every week, hopefully my boys will do well for ye next season..! Pre season at another club will feel strange but hopefully return to play against my friends soon.. :) #bees #friendship” (@DDennehy5)
Finally to McLeod – everyone knew he would be leaving at the end of the season. Fans from other clubs seem so shocked that we’ve let him go, what with being joint-top scorer for League Two, but it was plain to see his mind’s been elsewhere – ever since the January transfer window. He wasn’t the same player he was in the first half of the season, and after the speculation of “will he, won’t he” the goals dried up and his performances dramatically changed. Although it is plain to see he is a natural goal scorer, his ‘bigger than the club’ attitude and ego didn’t do much to win him over with fans. At the same time, wherever he ends up, he will continue to be a success. The club didn’t sell him in January, obviously because they wanted to retain his services for the rest of the season, but in the end, we didn’t really need him – with the likes of Holmes, May, Hughes etc…
I was shocked, however, to see Brill released. He wasn’t a bad keeper at all, and I’d have him as my first choice over the likes of O’Brien all day long. In my opinion the first job of the manager, when he is decided upon, is to find a first choice keeper – somebody with League experience at our level, and of a decent calibre.
Now onto the players we’ve managed to keep hold of: Mark Byrne, Ricky Holmes, Elliot Johnson, Steve Kabba, Clovis Kamdjo, Liam O’Brien, Mauro Vilhete and Andy Yiadom.
The pick of the bunch there, for me, obviously has to be Byrne and Holmes. I’m also oddly happy to see Kamdjo sign on for another year. For me, he has to be the most improved player of last season – his new role in the centre of midfield suits his own skills and attributes better. Kabba too, has clearly been a great influence on the younger squad members because of his experience, and despite not playing because of injury, he deserves to stay. Hopefully next season will see him back in an amber shirt, and he can remain injury free. The younger players constantly sing his praises; Sam Cox, in particular, never has a bad word to say about him.
Three players are still undergoing contract negotiations: Sam Deering, Mark Hughes and Jack Saville. The sooner all three can put pen to paper, the better. All three are big players that were crucial on survival last season. The official site states: “the future of Mark will lie in the hands of our new manager. The future of Sam is dependent on talks with Sam and his agent”.
With that first bit of news out of the way, I’m hoping the three that haven’t yet committed their futures to the club, do so. The next bit of news really needs to be the decision of the manager, as once that has cleared up we can get on signing new players ready for pre-season.