IN the end the decision to cut Jack Midson came down to money. He was the Dons’ biggest earner yet under Neal Ardley’s management he was not a regular starter and could not justify his wages.
Midson’s release among a total of eight unwanted players divided opinion among supporters, as it has done for much of this season, yet Ardley feels he can get ‘someone better’ and only time will tell if he does.
Midson is the scorer of some iconic goals for AFC Wimbledon. Jack is best remembered for the nerveless penalty that kept the Dons in the Football League with 18 minutes left of last season as well as that memorable diving header in the 2-1 FA Cup loss to Milton Keynes that same season.
But it became increasingly obvious that he wasn’t fitting it with how Ardley wanted to play this season and he was restricted to 19 League appearances with a further 18 off the bench.
The leading scorer for the previous two seasons, Midson finished this campaign with seven goals. The writing was on the wall and Ardley spelled it out as he justified his decision to not offer him further terms for the 2014-15 season.
“Jack was our best paid player, and while some people will say he deserves that because he has done great things for the club and is a legend the club, at the same time the biggest earner in my budget was not a first choice for a large part of the season,” Ardley told the Wimbledon Guardian.
Thank you @jackmidson for everything. Specially thanks fot THAT penalty v Fleetwood which kept us in the Football League. Amazing!
— Marten Kats (@MartenKats) May 7, 2014
“I have never had an issue with Jack, he is a first-class professional – he was left out at the beginning of the season when he was out of form, and he came back into the side when he hit form.
“Unfortunately I have to work with a small budget and work out how to improve, and when you have a small budget, you have to use it to get the most playing time.”
While releasing Midson will make some more funds available for player recruitment, Ardley didn’t pull his punches.
“It’s not necessarily a case of getting two players for Jack’s wage, I’d rather get someone better,” he said.
“But it’s tough – we started to look at our recruitment about four or five weeks ago, and we have been in touch with agents to see what they want for their players and we’ve been blown away.
“You have to get out there early before all the best players go, but at the same time they command what they want.”
Make no mistake, Ardley and his coaching staff will be in for some hard long bargaining over the coming months with limited funds to get the players they are seeking. In the end it is their necks on the line if things don’t work out next season as it was for Terry Brown.
Rumours are strong that former Dons favourite Danny Kedwell is on that list, but the Club can expect some interest in him from elsewhere should he not be required at League One Gillingham.
Some interesting comparisons: in three seasons at Kingsmeadow Kedwell scored 43 goals in 81 League appearances. Midson netted 38 times in 100 appearances.
Kedwell apparently phoned the Wimbledon club and said he wanted to play in last weekend’s charity game at Kingsmeadow, possibly to gauge the fans’ reaction to seeing him in a Dons shirt once again.
He needn’t have worried as one Dons fan observed:”The entire main bar singing “Sign him up sign him up” as Kedwell walked on stage to talk to Ivor Heller afterwards – and all Keds could do was smile and say ‘I’m out of contract…’ ” Apparently, Kedwell was in Ardley’s office for some time before the game.” We await developments on this one.
Kedwell’s appeal is he always gives 100% and ‘gives a shit’ which was patently missing from some players in the end-of-season games against Morecambe and Accrington.
Just as it wasn’t a surprise that Midson was released so too was the decision to dispense with the Club’s longest-serving player Luke Moore, along with Peter Sweeney and Callum Kennedy.
Luke Moore, who joined the Dons from Ebbsfleet in 2009, made 124 appearances for 30 goals, but struggled to make an impact this season. Moore made a habit of drawn-out contract negotiations over the previous two summers, but that won’t be happening this off-season.
— Luke Moore (@Lmooro11) May 7, 2014
Sweeney and Kennedy were also apparent big earners, but their relative inactivity in the second half of the season made their positions untenable for Ardley.
Sweeney has made a total of just 24 appearances in one and a half seasons through injury, while left-back Kennedy hasn’t played since January 25 because of injury.
Ardley’s clear-out also included defender Will Antwi, goalkeeper Seb Brown, defender Rhys Weston and forward Charlie Strutton. There are reviews still to come for Charlie Sheringham and Jake Nicholson, while Sammy Moore, Aaron Morris, Darren Jones and Jim Fenlon have been offered new deals.
With Midson, Luke Moore and Seb Brown now gone, only Sammy Moore and Fenlon (if they re-sign) are the remnants from the Terry Brown Dons squad from October 2012.
Ardley has cleared the decks and now we’ll see who he manages to bring in ahead of next season.