What's the key behind the AFC Wimbledon's new signings...? Brutal honesty.

Goal man: Matt Tubbs poses for the obligatory scarf shot

Goal man: Matt Tubbs poses for the obligatory scarf shot

First published in Sport Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley has revealed the secret behind his summer signings – brutal honesty.

At the time of going to press, Ardley has recruited six new men – with a goalkeeper and full-back still on his radar.

The most mouth-watering acquisition is striker Matt Tubbs, who turned down Championship and League One football with AFC Bournemouth and Crawley Town respectively for Dons’ League Two campaign.

Tubbs, who Ardley likened to former team-mate David Connolly, is prolific in front of goal scoring 121 goals in 226 appearances – something the boss was keen to address after the Dons’ found the back of the net just 49 times last term.

Ardley said: “Players want to be loved and enjoy their football. They want to know about tactics and formations, and feel included.

“When I speak to a player, I tell them about my football models, my philosophies and mental processes – I am brutally honest about what I would expect and how I would go about it.

“Players talk to other players, and if someone rang up one of my players, they would tell them exactly what I am like.”

The arrival of Adebayo Akinfenwa – boasting 137 goals in 303 appearances – was the result of an ongoing conversation between the 32-year-old striker and Ardley.

He said: “I’ve spoken to him a number of times, and it was no secret that I wanted to buy him last season, but he was determined to try his hand in League One.

“When he turned down an offer to stay with Gillingham, I got in touch again and told him I had only ever been turned down once, by a woman, and if he turned me down again he would be the first person to do it twice.”

He added: “What Adebayo and Matt bring is goals, and we know we need those this season in what I believe is going to be the most competitive League Two season yet.”

This pre-season will be Ardley’s second in charge, and while he admitted to working himself too hard in the transfer market last year, it appears he could be in danger of doing the same again – but for the help of his family.

He said: “During our work to bring Matt to the club, I took a holiday to Greece. I was keen to stay off the phone and spend my time with the family.

“But at one point my 11-year-old daughter came in the hotel room off the balcony and asked me ‘Have we signed Matt Tubbs yet?’ “Clearly I’d been on the phone more than I realised.”

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