Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
It's Monday again and time for a rundown of the important going's on at Montgomery Waters Meadow and with the start of the league campaign just a few days away.
As ever, the biggest news has been the two games we've played this week against Cheltenham and at home to Dundee United. However, we'll get to that later. Tuesday brought us news that wasn't great from our point of view because it meant losing an excellent young coach. First-team coach Eric Ramsey has left to join Chelsea as their under-23 assistant manager. When an opportunity like that comes along, I think you have to grab it with both hands and I wish him the best of luck. As sad as it is for us, it is at least a vindication of the way Shrewsbury Town do things, Eric isn't the first coach to move on to a higher level from Shrewsbury Town. I can't claim to know Eric but I've seen him in action giving press conferences last season when he took joint charge when John Askey moved on. He struck me as an extremely professional individual and the thing that struck me about him was the instant responses he gave without so much as missing a beat. An impressive young man who has the world at his feet.
Later that day, the away friendly at Cheltenham ended in a 2-2 draw with goals from Shaun Whalley and Abo Eisa although the main positive from the game for me, was the return to action of Dave Edwards and Scott Golbourne.
There was more good news on Wednesday with the announcement that the England under 20 team will be playing the Netherlands on the 5th of September. Tickets are priced very reasonably at £5 for adults and under-12s go for free. See the full article in the archive section of the website. The international games are something I've enjoyed since we moved to the Montgomery Waters Meadow. They look more focussed on skills and tactics and it seems like the histrionics and diving from a full international are quite reduced. The game will also mark the return of ex-Town manager Paul Simpson who is now a World cup winning manager since his team won the trophy in South Korea in 2017.
Saturday started with the news of a new coaching appointment with Joe Parkinson joining Sam's coaching team. I remember Parkinson well as a player, particularly in the 1995 F.A. Cup final when he won with Everton against Manchester United. Sadly his career was blighted by injury so he moved into coaching which has brought him to us, good luck Joe.
The Dundee United wasn't as well attended as I thought it might be but it was a bit of a wet day but the rain was quite warm and it had a refreshing quality. The game was an enjoyable one with 2 early penalties cancelling each other out. United looked the fresher but they've been in training longer than we have, their League Cup campaign started a couple of weeks back so I was half expecting that. The positives from the first half were Luke McCormick who seemed to be everywhere making teasing runs and trying to get in behind the Terrors defence. David Edwards started with his trademark enthusiastic commitment and didn't look like he'd been injured for months. He deserves a prolonged period of fitness and as long as he can keep that, his quality will shine through for us.
Aside from the early foul for the penalty, Max O'Leary had a good game with the occasional spectacular save, his experience in last seasons Championship should stand him in good stead against Portsmouth this weekend. Ferjiri Okenabirhie and Steve Morison seem to be developing an understanding with the latter supplying the assist for the former to score after McCormick found Morison who was wide of the far post.
With the start of the season less than a week away, we look in good shape although it's always difficult to learn too much about a team until they start playing real football. In Portsmouth, we face a potentially difficult opponent who just missed out on promotion. They have some familiar faces in their squad as manager Kenny Jackett seems to like collecting ex-Salopians with James Bolton joining Bryn Morris and Craig MacGillivray this closed season. Whatever the result, the anticipation is building and I'm hoping for one of those lovely summers days that sometimes make the first game of the season seem perfect, at least until we kick-off! I think Sam Ricketts has assembled a pretty good squad for League one with a nice blend of experience and youth.
The system Sam wants to play seems to be suiting the players he's recruited, obviously, that's intentional but until they all play together, you're never 100% sure of how it will all pan out. There is always pre-season anxiety as a supporter but I feel more comfortable than usual, probably because we look quite solid but also because I think Sam has the right type of experience with plenty of winners and plenty who have experience of this and higher levels. I really can't wait for Saturday!!!