Gateshead manager Neil Aspin believes that the decision to let top scorer Sam Jones leave for Grimsby Town was the best decision for all parties.
The Mariners made several bids for the former Heanor Town midfielder, with the latest bid accepted late on Monday evening, just twenty four hours before the January transfer window closed.
The move caused some negativity from the Heed’s supporters, understandably so after seeing one of their key players departing the club.
Aspin understands the feelings of the supporters and stressed that he was disappointed to lose a player he took to the International Stadium during the summer.
However he also believes that the club got the best possible deal for the former Leeds United academy player, especially after Jones informed the club that he wanted to try his luck at Blundell Park.
Aspin said “I think all supporters, and I have had this over my managerial career, all supporters want all the players to stay at the club. If they have good players they don’t want them to move.
“But in reality, you always have a situation where if somebody attracts attention, a club shows interest, you then have a decision to make.
“What does the player want to do? Is it a good move for the club as well? You have to weigh everything up.
“I always have to look at the player’s point of view because it was always my dream to play in the Football League. You can’t stop somebody having that ambition and the lad, after speaking to him on a number of occasions, expressed a desire that he wanted to go.
“I always think if you have a player at the club that wants to go, it is then difficult trying to get the best out of him, once you deny him a move.
“So we obviously had negotiations with them for a while but by the end of the day on Monday we all came to an agreement.
“Now the club has done everything in the right manner with regards to Sam. I had a chat with him yesterday and he was obviously very grateful to Gateshead for giving him the chance and also the way the chairman has been negotiating for him to be released.
“I think it’s fair to all sides but at the end of the day, once a player expresses a desire to leave, and it wasn’t a case of his attitude was bad, he just had a genuine desire to play in the Football League.
“Taking his age into consideration, the location of where he is from, it is a good opportunity and obviously the one thing we can’t give him here is the chance to play in front of 5,000 a week. It’s obviously an attraction and it’s something I know as a player, can bring something out of you.
“If he goes on and does well he will benefit and Gateshead will do well. You are always sad to lose players, but that is what happens when there is a progression at all clubs. Even in the Premier League
“He wouldn’t have gone if the first offer or the second offer was all that they had offered but there comes a point when you weigh everything up.”
Since the sale of Jones was announced on Tuesday, Aspin has been hard at work trying to find a replacement.
A move for Hartlepool United midfielder Nicky Deverdics was made and after the Heed agreed terms with his club, the former Dover Athletic player decided against the move, preferring to stay at the club and fight for his place under new manager Dave Jones.
Another move, for a midfielder from a National League rival, fell through at the last minute on Wednesday.
Terms had been agreed with the club and the player, who then decided against moving North with the deal set to go through.
Work continues for Aspin and Gateshead, but the former FC Halifax Town boss insisted that he will only bring a replacement in if they will improve his current crop of players.
Aspin revealed “We have got players that can play, and it’s not that we haven’t been trying to bring in a replacement because obviously the transfer deadline doesn’t apply to us.
“We have tried for several players this week, who would have come in and done a good job. But for one reason or another they have either gone elsewhere or they have stayed where they are at.
“The club is certainly backing me in the fact that they are letting me bring in other players but there is no point bringing in someone who isn’t going to improve the team. I certainly don’t want to bring in players to sit on the bench, or in the stands.
“They have to come in and improve us. We had a couple of players that we thought would improve us but we haven’t been able to get them done this week”
There is one move that is edging closer to fruition, with a loan move for a midfielder from a Football League club in the offing.
Aspin is waiting for a definitive answer from the player’s club before finalising the deal.
Whether or not that deal goes through, Aspin believes that the club will bring in “a couple of players” over the coming weeks, with the emphasis on the bringing in a midfielder, a position in which he believes the Heed are “a little bit thin on the ground”.
“I have spoken to somebody yesterday (Wednesday) about bringing in somebody on loan and I think we will find out this afternoon (Thursday) if that is the case.
“From now until the end of the season we will certainly get in a couple of players that we can look at and hopefully they will give us a boost.
“But I’m not just going to bring anyone into the team.
“If we find out this afternoon that we can bring in a player on loan then we will certainly have him for Saturday.
“It is running close to whether he could start on Saturday because we certainly need to prepare for Saturday’s game. But we will see what happens.
“We are a little bit thin on the ground and we are looking to bring a midfield player in.
“It’s no secret, that we need to get another midfielder player in. I am confident we will get one in over the next few weeks”
One deal that has been completed was a move for AFC Telford United keeper James Montgomery.
The England ‘C’ keeper moved back to his native North East on Monday and will battle it out with current Heed goalkeepers Dan Hanford and Shaun MacDonald for a place in Aspin’s starting line-up.
The move has pleased the Heed boss, as he finally completed a move for a keeper that he had admired since his time in charge of former club FC Halifax Town.
“I think it’s a good signing for the club on several levels” admitted Aspin.
“You want to get players that have got a future in front of them and obviously he is a goalkeeper that has been getting better and has been attracting attention.
“Like with all players you take a chance when they are doing well and improving or if they go on to do something by then you have missed out.
“I have seen him play before, when I was at Halifax, he was just starting to play at Telford and he has improved. He got in the England ‘C’ squad which is always good and I just feel because he is from the North East, it was a good opportunity to bring in another goalkeeper after letting Sam Johnson go back to Port Vale”
Aspin could hand a debut to Montgomery when Gateshead entertain Southport at the International Stadium on Saturday.
The Sandgrounders make the journey to the North East just days after surprisingly parting company with manager Steve Burr.
They will have a familiar face in the dugout, with Liam Watson stepping into the role for the remainder of the season.
Aspin believes that Watson’s knowledge of the club and the current Southport squad means that the impact of losing their manager will be minimal.
“Liam Watson, who has been at the club in a different role has managed the club on two or three occasions, knows the club well.
“He will have watched all the games, he knows the players, it’s not a massive change.
“He will, obviously, have different opinions to what Steve Burr had, but again you can say they are inconsistant.
“There were the first team to win at Barrow and that was only two weeks ago. They deserved to win the game.
“But they have had a couple of disappointing results since then.
“So again, they are capable of getting a result, but we have to make sure we are ready for them and we put on a good display”
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Gateshead FC