Sammy Moore’s move to Leyton Orient this summer means AFC Wimbledon now have a team of players who were all signed by Neal Ardley - but the Dons boss says he would never have used that as an excuse for last season’s failure to make the play-offs.
A former member of the Crazy Gang, Ardley rejoined Wimbledon in October 2012 but inherited a squad that had been drained of confidence following a disastrous run of form that ultimately cost Terry Brown his job as boss.
Ardley used the January transfer window to transform the Kingsmeadow squad, bringing in players like Jonathan Meades and striker Gary Alexander, who helped keep the club up in such dramatic fashion by completing a great escape with victory over Fleetwood.
Brown’s Dons group has gradually been broken up by the 42-year-old and the departure of Moore, one of five players to leave at the end of the season in a dressing room clear-out, signals the end of an era at Wimbledon.
However, Ardley doesn’t see it that way. He sanctioned a new contract for Moore last summer and believes that makes the midfielder one of his own, refusing to use the players he was left with as a reason for any shortcomings.
He said: “Sammy was out of contract last season and I re-signed him so there’s no excuses from me that it’s not my team. What a great servant Sammy was for the club tough and it was a joint decision. We both felt that perhaps he needed a fresh start.
“From the moment we started our second season it was close to being my team. It was really hard to attract players during the January of my first season. Players didn’t want to come to a team that was bottom of the league.”
Moore departed Wimbledon this summer having made 183 appearances in the blue and yellow shirt, 36 of which came last season, and Ardley admitted his preferred formation had made it difficult to find a regular role for the new Orient signing.