13 September 2013

New Signings Make Immediate Impact

Ten months is a long time in football. There have been managerial changes and transfers galore since the last post on this blog back in October. Not so much at Exeter City, though. Paul Tisdale still reigns supreme at the Cat & Fiddle, with the summer departures of Sir Alex, David Moyes and Tony Pulis pushing him up the LMA longest-serving managers list to behind only Arsene Wenger.

Despite the number of first team players who departed St James' Park last season, Tis was left with a meagre sum in which to strengthen his side. Nevertheless, the two players who did join the Cat & fiddle cavalry in pre-season - Sam Parkin and David Wheeler - have added much needed height and energy to a side which wilted so poorly at the end of last season.

Wheeler in particular has been a revelation since his summer switch from Staines Town. The 22 year-old's energetic, pacey bursts and impressive aerial ability mean he hasn't looked out of place either in a team that has made a good start to the season, the highlight of which being the vintage Brazil-like display against a lacklustre AFC Wimbledon, who were almost as bad as they were at the Park last season.

Parkin (foreground) and Wheeler (back left) in action at Yeovil Town.
Photo courtesy of Paul Sussex.
Most thought he would be slowly introduced to the side given his non-league background, but Tisdale, who has had great success recruiting from the lower echelons in the past (remember Ryan Harley and Matt Taylor?) obviously saw the same star quality in the unassuming 22 year-old. Some even say that Tis' limited Wheeler's appearances in the pre-season friendlies to prevent another side poaching him before City could offer him a deal.
We don't know if that is true, but what is clear is that City could have unearthed a gem.

Then we come to Sam Parkin, now at the 14th club in a career that has stuttered since a prolific spell at Swindon, where he earned the tag 'Super Sammy Parkin'. The past eight years have been less super for the 32 year-old, though, and after an mostly unsuccessful stint in Scotland, he returned south to join City.

The first few outings for Parkin in a red and white shirt have been promising. His dramatic winner against Bristol Rovers quickly endeared him to the City faithful and he nodded home his second goal to earn a point at Dagenham on Saturday.

Parkin offers a lot more than the occasional headed goal, however. He gives the Grecians an aerial presence upfront that they so obviously lacked last season, whilst being able to hold up the ball and bring others into play. If he can stay fit, which is so often the prerequisite with City's players, Parkin will prove a valuable asset throughout the season and beyond.