So here we are sixteen days from the start of the new season and this one certainly feels different to the past three.
Three years ago we had a summer exodus where players like Rico Henry, Tom Bradshaw and Romaine Sawyers left the club, two years ago we had the issues of trying to put a botched side together and likewise last summer we found ourselves trying to find a new centre back just twenty-four hours before the new season began.
All three summers lacked a plan, stability and any future planning. This feels different (well I hope).
As we sit here now we currently have a squad of twenty-four players which are filled with a perfect blend of experience and youth.
It has been a while since we had a few youngsters to genuinely get excited about. Now I’m not putting pressure on Cockerill-Mollett or Bates but their performances in pre-season and the sound bites from the manager suggest they have a big role to play this season.
Throw into the mix that we have acquired experience in Stuart Sinclair, James Clarke and Mat Sadler from a league above along with the marquee signing of Danny Guthrie things are shaping up nicely.
Yes we are still a couple of players short but I have full confidence and trust in Clarke to get the right players in. The same trust and confidence certainly wasn’t there with Whitney and Keates.
Away from the playing side we have completely stripped back our management team – outgoing Andy Davies, Michael Oakes, John Ward and Graham Biggs and incoming Marcus Stewart, Brian Dutton, Maik Taylor and Miguel Llera – all with proven coaching expertise and the highest coaching badges available.
The noises I’m hearing is all four of them share the same vision of Clarke – which is success. None of these seem to be here like some of their predecessors to just pick up a wage and not do a job.
This has been evident in the pre-season games I have attended. Maik Taylor has been vocal towards his keepers, Stewart has been vocal towards his strikers and Dutton has been vocal towards the younger players – whilst Clarke has had his say across the whole pitch.
As the incoming Mat Sadler said Clarke has a feel of Dean Smith about him. He’s not wrong. From the fans I have spoken to they trust Clarke and sense there is something special starting here.
We have rejected two bids for George Dobson and Morgan Ferrier this summer and have left them to train with the kids – the last three years we would have sold them for less than the going rate and would have replaced them with players on loan, not this time.
Yes we have signed loan players but players on season-long loans with a lot to prove and with the hunger needed to succeed in the game. At the end of the season I would imagine Jack Rose and Cameron Pring will be available should we want them permanently.
The side went away to Poland this week for a bonding session and a behind closed doors game – the noise coming out of the club is a lot different to the Cassius Camp adventure which just showed us tossing logs and tyres up a hill. Yet again this getaway feels like it had a purpose and a plan for the months ahead.
From the hierarchy, we have seen a positive approach to a more clearer and easy to understand ticketing structure and a more hands-on approach by the media team to get that rapport between the fans and players – something that has been sadly missed the past few years.
I know we are in a lower league and yes the club have made mistakes over the past three years but right here and right now we all have a part to play to get this club back into League 1 – one year in League 2 is fine, but any more than one year and it will get harder each time.
I mean there’s only so many times you want to do Morecambe away on a Tuesday night!
This renewed optimism means very little if come September we find ourselves languishing towards the other end of League 2 but it’s a step in the right direction and a sense of us once again becoming a professional football club that has a plan.
Let’s all get behind the staff and the players as we begin the new era of our great club.
Bring on the new season!