Baird's dramatic U-turn over Spitfires ace Forbes
By Wendy Gee -
ANDY Forbes's six-year love affair with Eastleigh is over following a late change of heart by boss Ian Baird.
After a meeting between manager and player last Thursday morning, it was 90 per cent agreed that the Reading-based striker - scorer of 143 goals in 268 Spitfires appearances - would be staying put at the Blue Square Bet South club.
But after mulling things over for 24 hours, Baird concluded that, taking his age and the number of games played over the past two seasons into account, re-signing fans' favourite Forbes did not represent value for money.
"When I spoke to Forbesy last Thursday, we 90 per cent agreed a deal to sign him on the same money he was on last season," Baird admitted.
"But having had a deep think about it for 24 hours, I met (director of football) Dave Malone and explained the reasons why I wasn't going to sign him.
"And then I rang Forbesy and told him the same thing.
"Forbesy's made 34 league starts in the last two seasons and he's nearing 31 years of age.
"Taking all that into account, I just felt it was too big a risk to sign him for the money he wanted.
"The positives were that Forbesy's a good player who can play in two positions (centre-forward and centre-half) very well, but I had my reservations about him last season when I put him on the transfer list.
"I got a good reaction from him, but I wasn't convinced that re-signing him on the same pay as last season would be value for money."
So certain was Forbes that he'd agreed a new deal with Eastleigh that he contacted ex-Spitfires boss Paul Doswell at Sutton last Thursday to tell him he was staying at the Silverlake.
Since then Doswell, who had headed the queue for the out-of-contract marksman, has gone elsewhere to bolster his Ryman Premier strike force by re-signing Craig Dundas from Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Doswell said: "I waited ten days for an answer from Andy and he rang last Thursday to say 'thanks for the interest' but he wanted to prove a point at Eastleigh and stay playing at the same level, which I can understand."
Asked if that was the end of Sutton's interest in Forbes, the U's boss added: "You can never say never in football, but I've signed someone else now, so I would say it probably is."
The timing of Eastleigh's U-turn will have disappointed Forbes, but Baird said: "As far as I'm concerned, we hadn't 100 per cent agreed a deal.
"Forbesy might have a right to feel let down, but the other side of the coin is that he'd already spoken to two clubs (Sutton and Woking).
"I've been let down a million times by players in the past.
"It's me who signs the players and, if things don't work out, it gets thrown back in my face.
"Every manager makes mistakes sometimes in signing players and I'm as guilty as the next.
"But I get paid to make big decisions like this - and I've made it.
"The fact is that I didn't feel 100 per cent right about it (re-signing Forbes).
"It's solely my decision."