Wednesday, 27 July 2011

League 2 season preview - part two

I thought I’d do something a little different and after completing the Twitter92 a month or so ago, I thought it’d be apt to see what my fellow League 2 supporters thought about their aspirations and expectations for their teams in the coming season. Here is part two (of four):

Rob Dunn – Twitter
“I think we will be around the top half perhaps pushing towards the play off positions if we get a decent striker in. Many of our fans are not as optimistic but I feel we vastly underachieved last season and there's plenty of room for improvement.
Jacques Maghoma is the biggest player to look out for – a talented midfielder with skill in abundance. On his day he is unplayable and can produce great things. Jimmy Phillips is also one to watch, young, tricky winger with lots of promise, expecting a big season from him.
I'm looking forward to all our games, but especially places I haven't been before: Swindon, Plymouth and AFC Wimbledon. I've always enjoyed going to Oxford too.
As long as we don't have a huge backlog of fixtures again and a long list of crippling injuries, I'm fairly optimistic that this season will be a good one, with better quality football and without the worries of being embroiled in another relegation battle”.
James Lewis – Twitter Blog
“Personally, I’d be happy with a solid mid table finish, somewhere between 12th and 14th. We have a good enough squad, but don’t currently have the budget to really challenge the likes of Shrewsbury, Swindon, Bristol Rovers etc in terms of buying players. What’s making me feel positive though is that last year Accrington managed to get into the play offs despite small gates, a tiny budget, and no real star players. We were crying out of a striker, and have been spoiled with two. I think what we need now is a loan goalkeeper to really battle with Scott Brown for the number 1 spot, and a winger.
 Marlon Pack will be our key next season; signed after he impressed on loan from Portsmouth, I could see us getting a large fee for him later down the line. We have Russ Penn partnering him in midfield and they complement each other well. Then there’s Danny Andrew. Opinion has been slightly divided on him as he’s a little naive defensively, but he’s an excellent attacking left back. Josh Low is also a very important player for us, though most of you will already know about him! There’s also Darryl Duffy who will likely be our main outlet for goals. 
I’m looking forward to the games I can go to really! I don’t live in Cheltenham now so I can only go to a handful. Swindon at home is one – great local derby and Northampton away for the same selfish reason. In terms of games in general, Hereford at home – we need revenge for them giving us a hiding at our place in February, and of course there’s Crewe, who beat us by a humiliating and downright degrading 8-1 scoreline back in April.
Aspirations – in terms of positives, we’ve largely retained the core from last season. The year before we built pretty much an entirely new squad, but this time the players won’t need as much time to gel.  Spirit in the camp appears great and the players seem confident of the season ahead. Listening to some of the fans however you’d think there was no hope”.
Louie Elmer – TwitterBlog
“I genuinely think we can achieve promotion this season, and I think the key to that will be the tremendous fitness levels the players possess and the strength in depth as well.
Matt Tubbs is seemingly the obvious stand-out player to watch, with 40 goals last season. But Scott Neilson is particularly dangerous and the two central defenders, McFadzean and Mills were arguably one of the best pairings outside the Championship last season. Young Charlie Wassmer has a lot of potential as well.
I'd say games to look forward to are: Port Vale away (first game of the season), Wimbledon (home and away) and probably Swindon at home, as well as Barnet away (nice bank holiday away day). They're the ones that jump out at me.
To be honest I'm really glad practically all of our transfers are already done and dusted, giving the players time to blend in before the season kicks off- I think it goes to show, whilst he's not everyone's favourite, Evans really knows what he's doing”.
David Gallagher – Twitter
“I think we may have missed our chance last season by conceding too many goals. We've lost the league's top goal scorer and not signed anyone yet, so I think we'll finish in the top half, but that's about it. I think it'll take at least one more season before we're good enough to go up though.
New players coming through will definitely be ones to look out for; especially Nick Powell and Max Clayton, with Arsenal and Liverpool rumoured to be after both already. I think Shaun Miller will build on last season too.
Looking forward to Port Vale home and away, as always. The league has traditionally had quite a large number of northern teams, so I'll think we'll struggle away from home, even more than we did last year.
I'm looking forward to seeing how these young players turn out. The team is basically full of kids right through, with only a few experienced players. That said you'd expect us to struggle to improve on last season, but you never know”.
Matt Lees – Twitter
“Realistically, I think we have a good chance of promotion via the play-offs. With the departures of Danny Green and Romain Vincelot, next season will be quite difficult. Danny Green in particular was a huge part of everything good while he was at Dagenham. That said, we still have a good squad of players and John Still always manages to pull something out the bag.
D J Green. Another Danny Green, who at the end of last season showed he has quite some talent and may be well be the stand out player for 2011/12.
Three stand-out games for me: Barnet, Oxford and Southend away! Barnet because it's always a feisty game. Southend will be a fun game that's not too far away and Oxford because they were kind enough to let us secure promotion at their ground a few seasons back!
With Dagenham's limited budget I'd say everyone who runs the club has done a fantastic job in bringing in such talent and keeping positivity at the club despite relegation. Still being a league club for players and fans alike is amazing considering where we've come from in such a short amount of time, so I can only praise the fact the club are aiming to bounce straight back up into League One”.
Andy Manion – TwitterBlog
Gillingham is one of the bigger clubs in League 2. At the start of last season the manager, Andy Hessenthaler, stated that if we weren't promoted last season would be seen as a failure - the target is the same this season. Anything less than promotion will again be seen as failure. Most fans expect promotion and with the new summer acquisitions this should be possible. Realistically promotion should be attainable, but whether it will actually happen is contentious. It will depend largely on managing to keep the squad fit. There isn’t a great deal of depth there and last season was largely injury plagued. However there is still optimism there and amongst the club there is still the belief that Gillingham is still too big a League 2 club. The optimists predict promotion – personally I reckon without further depth the club will once again fall short of expectations.
The biggest signing this summer was undoubtedly Adam Birchall. The former Dover Athletic player was prolific in the lower leagues. Not being blessed with any particular physical presence or speed he has good control, an eye for a goal and good vision. He has already impressed pre- season. The other players to look out for are Chris Whelpdale who impressed last season and possesses both skill and pace. He was a regular starter for Peterborough last season. The other Peterborough signing is also set to impress – Charlie Lee was notable last season in his Loan spell at Gillingham.
There aren't many big games in League 2 for Gillingham as there are no local rivals to speak of. Playing Swindon will be interesting given the controversy over the signing of Adam Birchall. (Swindon agreed a fee with Dover Athletic for him before Gillingham came in last minute and snapped him up, despite being bitter rivals with Dover). The other game to look forward to will be playing Southend United, both teams have a good following for League 2 teams and are fairly close to each other.
The season could go either way, whatever happens we should get off to a better start than last season but whether we can keep it up having lost our two main goal scorers from last season is hard to say. Overall there’s plenty to be optimistic about at Gillingham”.

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