A lot of big decisions lie ahead for Scunthorpe United as they look to shape their squad for next season – but who should they let go?
Well, here we are – back in League Two. Last season was an absolute disaster for the Iron, following injury after injury, and errors made on and off the pitch. But, under the new management of Paul Hurst, who comes with what is a pretty stellar resume – this is a chance for a fresh start. With that in mind, surely a number of the players who seriously let us down last season must be sent packing throughout the next few weeks.
For each player out of contract, including the loanees, I am going to state whether the Iron should keep, release or send them back, as well as who should be placed on the transfer list. Strap yourselves in – there’s a lot to cover.
Jak Alnwick – Send back
One thing is for sure, Alnwick had a difficult task in the Iron net this season, with an extremely poor defence in front of him. He is a decent shot-stopper, but that simply isn’t enough to be a solid ‘keeper in professional football, as he doesn’t really dominate his area. Rumours surfaced a few weeks ago that the club were looking to sign Alnwick for £100k – but, in my opinion, that money could be better spent elsewhere.
Tony McMahon – Keep
McMahon is clearly a good character to have around the club, as you could see his enthusiasm for football right from the off. Alongside that, the fullback is a decent defender and he has superb delivery. Granted, McMahon is getting on a bit, now aged 33, but his experience could be crucial for the Iron – and they can probably pick him up on a free transfer.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – Send back
I was a bit unsure about Borthwick-Jackson at first but I thought he really came into his own at the start of 2019 and put in some excellent displays. We wouldn’t be able to afford to bring him back and I imagine he will want to be playing above League Two level.
Tom Pearce – Send back
This lad came with a good reputation, however, I really didn’t understand the hype. Pearce is very raw and playing in a struggling side did not suit him or Scunthorpe. He could be a decent player in the future but he must improve his defensive awareness, and with where the club are currently at, this is not the place for him.
George Thomas – Send back
Thomas has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season – but that wasn’t entirely through his own making. The attacking midfielder has talent but, unfortunately, the Iron didn’t see that enough from him and he spent a lot of the season playing out of position. Thomas will probably do well elsewhere.
Out of contract players
Rory Watson – Keep
Watson should get a new deal, but I’m not completely sure whether he is the right man to kick off the season between the sticks, particularly because he’s just missed almost an entire season. He certainly has potential, which is why they should keep hold of him, however, it could be a bit of a risk to install him as the new number one.
Jonathan Flatt – Release
Flatt hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong, but if the Iron are looking to bring in a new number one, then there will be no need to keep the backup ‘keeper.
Byron Webster – Keep
It has been a bit of a strange spell for Webster. Although Scunthorpe haven’t won a game in which he has started, the experienced centre-half put some good performances in once he was finally drafted into the lineup at the end of the season. Webster could be a huge part of the side in League Two and keeping hold of him should be high on the agenda.
Charlie Goode – Keep (on a condition)
This one largely depends on what the club plan to do with their other central defenders. I don’t think Goode is the worst centre-back on the books and he does care, so I believe he should be kept as a backup. However, if Scunthorpe plan to keep the rest of their centre-halves, then they should probably allow him to leave.
Yasin Ben El-Mhanni – Release
I felt a bit for El-Mhanni because his opportunities were extremely limited. By all accounts, it was a signing that Stuart McCall wasn’t convinced about, which is probably why he only got a few minutes here and there. He showed glimpses of what he is capable of, but El-Mhanni looks like and is, a freestyler.
Levi Sutton – Keep
Despite many around him failing to impress, Sutton had decent spells in the team this year and should do well in League Two. The Iron youth product has the club at heart and his versatility makes him at least a useful squad player – so he should get a new deal.
George Hornshaw – Keep
I haven’t seen a lot of Hornshaw, but given that he has spent periods in and around the first team over the last year, means that he must be a decent prospect. As Scunthorpe look to improve the U23s side, homegrown talent like him should be given a chance to prove their worth.
Josh Morris – Keep
Well, this one isn’t exactly hard, is it? The Iron should do everything they can to keep hold of Morris but, unfortunately, the situation is probably out of their hands and he will likely be playing at a higher level next season.
Transfer list or release
Jordan Clarke – Transfer list (one-year left on contract)
This is extremely difficult because I believe Clarke is an excellent right-back – it’s just so unfortunate that he cannot keep fit. In the last three seasons, he has played 61 out of 138 league games – which isn’t what is required from a player who probably is one of the top earners. Whatever the club decides to do with Clarke, I understand the decision. Other clubs will likely be interested in his services – so releasing him wouldn’t make sense.
Rory McArdle – Release (one-year left on contract)
McArdle’s time at Glanford Park has been pretty unconvincing, given the reputation he arrived with, on the back of several impressive campaigns with Bradford. The centre-half doesn’t come across as much of a leader on the field and the amount of errors he made throughout the season, is completely unacceptable. A new captain is imperative and McArdle must have his deal terminated, as it’s unlikely anyone will offer him similar terms.
Cameron Burgess – Transfer list (one-year left on contract)
Another player who has been largely underwhelming during his time at the club. A couple of decent performances at the start of the year should not save Burgess from being ushered out of the door this summer. Given his age and background with Fulham, it’s likely someone will take a punt on him.
James Perch – Release (one-year left on contract)
Simply not good enough, particularly for a player that has played Premier League football. Perch sauntered his way through the season and managed to pick up more yellow cards than he made successful tackles. I would question whether he has the fight for a League Two battle – so his deal should be cut short.
James Horsfield – Transfer list (one-year left on contract)
I haven’t seen much in Horsfield to suggest that he deserves a place in next seasons squad. The midfielder, although he didn’t get too many opportunities, didn’t really impose himself on matches and should probably be placed on the transfer list, freeing up a place in the squad.
Thoughts on the rest
I know a lot of people would prefer the list of players leaving to be longer and I completely understand that. However, you can’t just get rid of everyone and to a certain degree, stability must be maintained – which I know perhaps sounds stupid after we just got relegated.
There are the bones of a decent squad already there, it just needs some of the players who really let the club down to leave and fresh blood to be added. Hurst will get some fighters in – that is for sure.
Now it’s just time for us all to have a much-needed break after the torture of the last year – enjoy your summer.