Some say that the football manager game is just that – a game, however I disagree and now have proof that it’s a brilliant scouting aid, as one of my Football Manager Stags squad makes a real life move to Mansfield Town, welcome to Field Mill defender Luke O’Neill.
The 19 year old defender signs a one year deal at Field Mill just weeks after being released by Leicester City, Luke mainly plays right back but can slot in anywhere across the back line as well as play on the right hand side of midfield.
He made his debut for Leicester shortly after turning 17 and despite not being able to make a clean break into the 1st team on a regular basis, has made a few appearances for the foxes mainly in cup competitions. Luke has knowledge of the BSBP following a loan spell with Kettering Town, making 19 appearances for the Rockingham Road club, also netting two goals after joining them in January 2011.
Luke is also capped at international level, playing twice & scoring once for England under 17’s. By signing Luke, Paul Cox has added another versatile, hungry & talented player to his squad for the 2011-12 campaign, Luke won’t disappoint us stags fans, his hard work & determination which has seen him hunted by a number of clubs in recent years, will help the stags have a solid defence. I also believe he is the perfect replacement for favourite Gary Silk and will make the right back slot his own.
Luke’s signature takes the player count for next season up to 18; he is Paul Cox’s 10th signing (not including assistant manager Mickey Moore). With Paul Cox saying he’d like a squad of around 22, I’d expect two more signings in the coming days with the squad being completed by trailists which impress, starting with the pre-season friendly at Rainworth MW a week on Saturday.
Along with the arrival Andy Todd & Ritchie Sutton on Tuesday, it was revealed yesterday that Paul Cox had offered the position of Chief Scout to former Leek Town manager, Paul Ogden. This is a great appointment by the club, although Paul is relatively unknown to stags fans, his experience as both a manager & scout in the lower leagues will prove vital to the cause.
The 64 year old was responsible for Ritchie Sutton’s arrival at the club & has recently been part of the scouting network at Crewe Alexandra. The fact he’s managed Leek Town on 6 separate occasions spanning 40 years should not be seen as a negative or an appointment below us, a lot of fuss can be made over a headline & the perception it brings – this addition to the clubs backroom staff will be the most vital addition made throughout the season.
Rather than rely on clubs & newspapers match reports or a ‘freelance’ scout like managers have done in the past few seasons (spanning back to the days of the lesser twin), the appointment of a club scout will fill a massive gap & provide something you can’t be taught: instinct/ feeling.
Paul Ogden will understand how Paul Cox’s plays, how he coaches & what areas his squad are strong, he will then take this knowledge and rather than provide a general overview of a game, he will provide an in depth report on oppositions week points & how the current set of players can adapt to beat it.
Paul will also be watching players and helping stags get ahead when it comes to finding a gem in the market, something we’ve been missing since Ivan Hollett departed to Derby County. Paul Cox knows what he’s doing with this appointment; it will not prove a waste of funds, it’s another vital part of the strong foundations, on which success will be built on.
Paul Cox’s transfer deals may not have been 100% mouth-watering, his addition of backroom staff may not have matched the expectations we’ve set in our minds, but getting out of the conference takes an understanding of conference players & football – we’ve got that now, mix it in with hungry players & watch the stags flower blossom.
That 1st pre-season friendly can’t come quick enough!
Current Squad & Management:
Lee Stevenson (New signing – Eastwood)
Lindon Mikele (New signing – Eastwood)
Paul Bolland (New signing – Macclesfield)
Matt Bell (New signing – Port Vale [Reserves])
Anthony Howell (New signing – Alfreton)
Ross Dyer (New signing – Forest Green Rovers)
Jon Worthington (New Signing – Bradford City)
Micky Moore (Assistant Manager – Joins from Solihull Moors)
Andy Todd (Player Coach)
Ritchie Sutton (New Signing – Port Vale)
Paul Ogden (Chief Scout)
Luke O’Neill (New Signing – Leicester City)
FC Halifax Town
If you can’t make it to any of the pre-season fixtures, fear not as I’ll be providing full match commentary on the away fixtures, plus updates from the home games on Takeover Radio 106.9FM or online http://takeoverradio.net/Media/Media_Player.html