There can be no doubt that Notts County have been very shrewd in the transfer market this summer.
There is a good blend of experienced players who know the lower leagues inside out (Dan Jones, Shaun Brisley, Nicky Hunt, Lewis Alessandra) and players who have spent most, if not all of their career so far in non-league and are hungry and eager to make the step up (Terry Hawkridge, Ross Fitzsimons, Pierce Bird, Elliot Hodge).
There are also loanees from a higher league (Jorge Grant, Ryan Yates) and a couple that fit in the miscellaneous (or perhaps "wildcard") category, such as Liam Walker (a year at Portsmouth, rest of his career abroad), Callum Saunders (young, came through the ranks at Crewe and has only ever played for them), and Branislav Pindroch (first spell playing abroad).
On the whole, I am happy with the bulk of these signings. I mean, I still think there is room for another reinforcement or two, a centre-back and a forward perhaps, but this is more just about the players that have already come in.
I know some fans continue to lambast owner Alan Hardy for having promised "wow" signings and delivered more modest names, but let's face it, League Two is not a "wow" league. It's a league full of plodding lumps who kick the ball straight up and aren't shy to let you know they're there with a shoulder-barge here, an elbow there and crunching tackles everywhere. Ricardo Moniz tried to play "wow" football and he and his flair players got massively shown up in the unforgiving dungeon of the fourth tier.
Maybe Hardy regrets talking about "wow" players now, but it's no big deal, he is fairly new to this football ownership malark so really, we should let it slide.
One thing I would like to see more of in the coming transfer windows is Notts identifying players who are performing well at other clubs, and signing them for cash.
Granted, this kind of business is a rarity in the lower leagues. Players' contracts tend to be for one or two years, and often they are allowed to run down, either by the player or by the club, so when a footballer joins a new club, it's likely to be as a free transfer.
However, splashing the cash for a couple of top players, either in League Two or the National League, would not only provide the obvious benefit of having them in Notts colours, but is also a signal of intent - "we have the money, we're not afraid to spend it, and we mean business on and off the pitch".
Now, I know what you're thinking - "we tried buying Liam Noble from Forest Green". Indeed, and that's exactly the intent I'm thinking of. Unfortunately, the whole "ex" element and the protractedness of it all ended up making the whole thing look like some rubbish reality TV or Jeremy Kyle episode involving love triangles (ie most of them).
One school of thought suggests that Notts would have given the message of "yep, he's our old player, but we can have him back at a whim", the same thing that Manchester United did with Paul Pogba and Chelsea tried to do with Romelu Lukaku, but in truth, the buying club looks silly even if they pull it off - "you've blown X amount on money on a player you just let go, what does that say about your scouting/developing?"
So going forward, no point wasting time on exes - just identify a key player or two who are impressing for their clubs in the fourth or fifth tier, offer some cash, ramp up the charm offensive, buy them, and give that signal of intent to the rest of the league. Obviously not many, just one or two, while the rest will be the frees and the loanees as per the lower league.
It will be interesting to see whether players can be persuaded to leave their clubs mid-season in the January transfer window, but if Notts put themselves in a top-seven position come the new year, then it's worth a try.