I am looking forward with a mixture of intrigue and reality as the new season approaches.
The pandemic has seen the death of people close to me, and my work has seen me quite involved in the care of vulnerable family and service users, however those close to me who have died would in the past not just have acknowledged my passion for this magnificent obsession, but engaged with me in the dawn of a new season rituals involving that “feeling in my water” and “this year is going to be our year” performance that would usually trigger smiles, raised eyebrows and shaking heads. So, in honour of them...
I have a feeling in my water that this season is going to be our season.
I am convinced that Parky is going to get a tune out of Neil & Diamond! Bailey Wright is going to conquer his injury issues and become the leader and rock at the back that we have not had since Jonny Evans strutted his stuff for us. I am expecting another good season from Luke O’Nien, and I’m looking forward to academy graduate Denver Hume kicking on again and really establishing himself as our first-choice left full back.
I believe Will Grigg will finally come good, and have no qualms about the proposed move for Danny Graham, who will do well for us in this division.
The surprise package will be Josh Scowen who, as he finds his match fitness and confidence, will become a key player in our promotion push.
I have confidence that we will get what we got last year from the mercurial talent of Chris Maguire - I like how gallus he is. He may well have a stinker once in every three games, but in this league he is worth persisting with. I am concerned about our lack of searing pace, but have been encouraged by the performances of Dan Neil and Denver Hume in this regard.
Aiden O’Brien is someone that I need to see more of, but he has looked lively pre-season. Our Kosovan recruit, 22-year-old defender Arbenit Xhemajli, made an impressive cameo when he played against Gateshead, but we need to see more of him before judging.
In the centre of the park, Max Power and George Dobson have contributions to make, and I especially believe that Dobson has more to bring to the table - he’s still young, and will surely improve with more game time under his belt.
Where will we finish? I am going to hedge my bets and say promotion will be achieved.
Here we go - lets rock and roll. Enjoy, folks.