Are Sutton United Equipped For A Football League Return? – Opinion

In just over two days’ time Sutton United will be working out how they plot an instant return to the Football League as the National League fixtures become public knowledge for all.

The U’s lasted two seasons in League Two and despite a mid-season managerial change with former Wales and Millwall striker Steve Morrison replacing Matt Gray, the club returned to non-league football along with Forest Green Rovers. Competing against some high end budgets in both campaigns, Gray had the club close to the play-off’s in their inaugural season, but they unable to compete in the transfer market saw Sutton struggle and ultimately cost Gray his job.

Morrison has overseen a huge squad overhaul through the summer, lowering the average age within the camp and among the 13 departures were many who tasted promotion back in 2021.

Craig Eastmond, Harry Beautyman and Craig Dudas were all released by the ex-Hornchurch manager as he attempts to make his mark on the club. Joe Kizzi departed for league rivals Barnet and Ben Goodliffe recently left for Colchester United, both players bringing in a fee to help with the rebuild.

Morrison’s remit has been for younger and hungrier players to arrive at Gander Green Lane in order to drive a promotion charge. The pick of those arriving include Matt Rush from Maidstone United, Siju Odelusi from Aveley and Jack Wadham, who spent part of last season on loan at Worthing.

Complimenting those so far has been the likes of Lewis Simper, Harry Ransom and Jeremy Sivi, players with Football League experience who will be hugely useful around Sutton’s dressing room.

Only two clubs have returned to the EFL at the first time of asking. Getting the balance right on and off the pitch is the conundrum most relegated sides face, although softened by two years of incoming parachute payments. Morrison’s first hand knowledge of the lower leagues follows the path of other National League clubs this summer in targeting players who have the desire to step up to full time training and matches.

After moving from Aveley, Rush enjoyed a good season at the Gallagher Stadium contributing 10 goals in 19 games. Odelusi is one of two players arriving from Essex along with Eduino Vaz, both having played almost every minute of The Millers promotion push which fell just short. Wadham helped Worthing to reach the National League South play-off’s on loan from Bournemouth, a player the South Coast side were keen to add again this year upon his release.

Attracting the best talent from the leagues below allows Morrison to stretch his budget further as players scramble around for a contract closer to the start of the new season. They will face some strong competition from Barnet, Forest Green and Oldham Athletic to name but a few, although the league itself appears to suggest a more open race for the title.

There is expectation that one or two clubs will emerge from the pack to put pressure on the favourites. Getting off to a good start is vital given how last season panned out for the U’s.

Expectations will be realistic around Gander Green Lane knowing that clubs take time to adjust to their surroundings after dropping out of the Football League. Sutton’s long non-league pedigree might be the sound foundation they need to be celebrating again come May.

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