I told a few people that I’d be going in to speak to Chris. Every single one of them asked me to find out if we’re going to have any money in January, and what’s going to happen to Adam Armstrong. Anderson was once again very measured in his response, careful not to overcommit to anything. But what we can be sure of is that he has a lot of faith in the ability of Mark Venus to make the budget to work for us.
Chris Anderson on… budgets and recruitment:
Q: Thoughts on the recruitment to date?
If you look at the work they’ve done bringing in players, I think it’s really good. They’ve worked this budget really well. We’ve gotten lucky in finding some players, but I think the quality work is really reflected in the quality players we have.
I’m going to tell tales but I think we have something like the 8th or 9th biggest budget in the division. So you can do the math – if we achieve anything above that, that’s a productive spend.
Q: Do we have any money to spend in January?
I talk to Mark Venus about the budget a lot. What’s been interesting this year is there’s a number we work towards because the financial fair play rules mandate that we only spend 60% of our turnover on players. So we have a bucket of money that we work with which we have to be very careful to make sure we don’t overspend, and the football league make sure that we don’t go over.
What I’ve found interesting is how creative Mark has been. We’ve had a fair few players come and go, but a lot of them have been loans. And short term loans. We’ve been able to spend money, but not spend all of it. Mark has been very good about holding back money to make sure we can do things in January if we need to. I think that’s important for people to understand.
It’s not the situation where he has to go back to the owner to ask for more – it’s more along the lines that there’s still money in that pot and he’s still looking to spend it if he needs to and if he feels the right player comes along.
There’s some uncertainty in this because of our loan players. It’s not really much of a choice for us, we need to work with loan players given our budget.
One of the things we want to do is make sure we understand what our loan player situation is going into January. Mark is doing a lot of work right now making sure we know exactly where we stand with the loan players.
We love all of them. They’ve all done extremely well for us, so in an ideal world we’d keep them all. But that’s a lot of loan players and one more than we can put in the match day squad. The odds of all of them staying are probably less than 100 and bigger than 50, we’re just not sure but we’re trying to work that through so when it comes to January we know what we need to buy or acquire on the free agent market to fill whatever gaps need to be filled.
People should be encouraged by the fact we’ve continued to bring people in as we’ve needed. We’ve gotten really unlucky with long term injuries that have hit us obviously in the budget. They’re senior players and to be able to fix some of those holes has been really important. Mark and the manager have done it in a really creative way.
But I wouldn’t just focus on January per sé. What we should have noticed is that we’ve been working to make sure we have all the players available, all along. When Reda Johnson went down, we found Ben Turner. When Jordan Willis went down, we found Lorentzson. I think we’ll continue to do that as we go through the season.
Q: How are we addressing the situation with the majority of the squad contracts expiring?
The other workflow we’re working on is which of our current players we want to stay with us. We have to be mindful of the fact that we might be in the League One or we might be in the Championship. I think the general idea is that you want to keep players that can play at both levels.
There’s ongoing conversations about which players that we want to stay longer. You saw that we’ve already done some of those things in the Fall with Reice Charles Cook extending his deal. That’s kind of an ongoing thing as we go through the squad, planning for next season, anticipating the two worlds we might live in.
The manager ultimately has to make a judgement about who thinks can play in the Championship, because really that’s the target. We all want to go up, if not this year, then next year. So the quality of the squad needs to be progressed as well, and so on any given player we’re thinking “is he a Championship player?”
They don’t all have to be starting eleven in the championship. They might be starting players in League One but we could still have really good use for them as a squad player in the Championship. Those are the considerations. It’s just not “can they start?” – do we want them to be part of the squad and I think we have good number of guys who can play in the Championship. I feel pretty good about it.
Q: How is John Fleck’s situation progressing, in particular?
Those kind of players are very valuable to the football club and we’re having ongoing discussions with him and his agents. Those are the kinds of players I’d like to keep. I think John Fleck is terrific and would do a terrific job in the Championship for us.