Bristol Rovers have announced their retained list for next season and one name on it is causing fans much concern.
The Gas were in a troubling spell of form, having seen manager Graham Coughlan leaves and new man Ben Garner struggle to stamp his authority on the side. They survived in League One and would have done had the season played out, but a period of rebuilding now looks likely.
That means no new deals for a collection of players. Tony Craig, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Liam Sercombe, Sam Matthews, Tom Nichols, Gavin Reilly, Ben Morgan, Josh Bailey, Lewis Clutton, Rhys Kavanagh and Theo Widdrington will all leave the club, although only a handful of them will be sorely missed.
Tom Nichols is not one of those players, with one social media user confirming the striker is comfortably the worst signing for many years. The 26-year-old joined from Peterborough in 2017 and scored just four league goals in 96 appearances. He finished the season on loan at Cheltenham Town, surprisingly without scoring.
Shame about Sercs and Craig. Nichols had to go – worst signing for many a year.
— William Quibell (@WillQuibes) June 15, 2020
35-year-old Tony Craig may not have many years left in his professional career, but his departure seems to be causing a little more consternation. Craig, who has formerly appeared for Millwall, Brentford and Crystal Palace, will leave after two years service in which he made 97 appearances, scoring five times. That’s one more than so-called striker Nichols, despite being a defender.
These Pirates’ fans were a little upset at seeing the veteran leave the club, even if it does seem to be a move towards a younger, leaner squad for Garner next season.
We need to cut the wage bill sadly. We can't afford these players. We need to work within our means or we won't have a club to support. I think the club are doing the right thing on and off the pitch now thank god. UTG!
— Bernie Ferntree (@BernieFerntree) June 15, 2020
@BenGarner_ if you’re not getting Tony in as defensive coach for the first team then there’s something wrong with you mate.
— Tom ??| new acc | (@brfctom2) June 15, 2020
Ben Garner hates anyone older than 25
— David (@di1cox) June 15, 2020
Really sad to see Craig leave, such an instrumental player for us in the last couple of seasons. Legend. Wish him and the rest of the released players all the best wherever they end up.
— BlueSideofTown (@BlueSideofTown) June 15, 2020
Why would you let Tony craig leave ffs
— Rhys Ethridge (@EthridgeRhys) June 15, 2020
You let Tony Craig leave…
— Sam (@BRFCSamuel) June 15, 2020
Would love to have see Tony stay in a coaching capacity, best of luck to @SercombeLiam on the future
— Jorddd (@Joorrdd180M) June 15, 2020
Sercs was hit and miss, THD always injured, the rest is bang on but big Tone will be a big miss, hopefully he retires and becomes a coach
— JOVID-19 (@JAMurph18) June 15, 2020