Marcus Braddock looks back at the World Cup and ahead to pre-season
With the closed season and the World Cup out of the way it's time for a good look forward to what awaits us in the coming week and a little bit beyond. Before I do that though, a quick word about the World Cup, which along with Town's exploits last season made 2018 probably the best of my life at least in terms of supporting football teams. Oddly though it feels like more heartbreak than any other season too with two losing appearances at Wembley, a manager and one or two valued players. It's not the same desolate heartbreak that I felt after our relegation from the Football League because there was so much pride in our achievements and the way we played.
Our new manager Mr Askey has made some promising signings already with one or two still to be wrapped up, so as I look forward to the season ahead I feel quite encouraged because we still have the defence that served us so well and we have some new pacey forwards to bring us excitement in the coming season. With the pre-season friendly programme already underway and week at a sun soaked Spanish training camp completed before that we seem to be preparing well. Results mean very little at this time of year as the main goal is to regain fitness and bed in the new faces but we've drawn 1-1 away with Bristol City and won 3-0 at home to Kidderminster Harriers, both good results considering the opposition. It was good to see new forward Fejiri Okenabirhie score twice and relatively new face Abo Eisa get off the mark early against Kidderminster but not to be out done, last season's top scorer Stefan Payne scored our only goal against Bristol City.
The new signings suggest to me that we might well play in a similar way to last season, exploiting the flanks with pace which should make things exciting for us in 2018/9. In the last week we've signed winger Alex Gillead and striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway, both of whom have youth international experience as well as time played at this level. I think that leaves us with a couple of keepers and midfielders to sign before the start of the season.
When I look at the squad, we've also got some players who came in later last season and occupied the fringes who feel like new players. Players like Abo Eisa and Sam Jones who looked quick and keen to prove themselves will hopefully come to the fore a little more with a pre-season at Shrewsbury under their belts.
When you look at the players left from last season with that strong defence still providing a stable base to work from, I think we can go and prove that last season had as much to do with the players as it did their manager.
Speaking of managers, I like the feel of Mr Askey's cautious optimism. He also seems an unflappable manager who knows exactly what he has to do and how long he has to do it. As with other seasons we have gaps but we have over three weeks to fill them and irons are in the fire so as far as I can see we have very little to worry about. Players are training for the new season, the coaches and the club are planning for the coming season and fans are indulging in the normal behaviour of speculating, catastrophizing and forming opinions on players before seeing them.
Off the pitch, the Supporters Parliament are meeting tomorrow evening at the Montgomery Waters Meadow in the Sovereign Lounge at 7pm, all supporters are invited as always.
The first team will be playing two friendly games in the coming week. The first is a “behind closed doors” game against Premiership Burnley on Tuesday but the second will be our first Friendly of the season in front of home supporters with Mr Askey in charge when we take on Brentford
Ticket prices are as follows:
Adults - £10.00
Seniors/Disabled - £5.00
12 to 23 - £5.00
Under 12’s – FREE (with accompanied adult).