To finish our Season Preview we have composed 10 questions about #TUFC and the season ahead, Dominic and Luke have provided their answers:
1 – Which player will be the biggest miss from last season?
DR – It’s got to be Mr Assists Dan Sparkes. My player of the year last season, and a winger who could provide crosses from open play and set-pieces. His pro-active attitude and running will also be missed – I was gutted when he left for the Daggers.
LH – I’m also a big, big fan of Dan Sparkes and I’m disappointed to see him depart. His goals and assists were a big part last season and I think he’ll count himself a little unfortunate not to have scooped POTY. He’ll be well suited at Dagenham and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a similar season to last. He’ll only thrive in a team with a stronger midfield than we had last season.
2 – Has Kevin Nicholson learnt from past mistakes?
DR – I think he has shown better patience in the transfer market this season, becoming picky (rather than desperate!) and waiting for suitable players to come along. Tactics wise he will also need to improve, with other teams exploiting our weaknesses last year far too often. I think he’ll get better at that too; would love to see more fluidity in the team and hopefully better use of the wide areas. He’s the right man for me, and learning all the time how to get the best out of players in different situations.
LH – It’s hard to say pre-season. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Nicholson has made mistakes in the past – the management of Brett Williams, repeated deals being awarded to Shaun Harrad & LRT as well as some poor tactical decisions are in my opinion, evident of that. That being said, you have to remember the circumstances he’s worked under and naturally, mistakes will be prevalent in the first two years as a debutant manager; it’s the flip side of the coin in employing a young manager. Looking ahead, his new player recruitment seems incredibly more mature this year, and I think the budget has been spread correctly but ultimately the proof will be in the pudding.
3 – Which new signing are you most looking forward to seeing in action?
DR – Jon-Paul Pittman has been around for a while, so no doubt I’ve seen him cause us bother at Plainmoor over the years. We didn’t have much pace last season, so it’ll be sweet to have that option over the top to frighten defenders. It would be brilliant to see a blossoming relationship between him and Ruairi, and I hope his experience will help RK push on.
LH – Generally, I’m excited about our defence; I don’t expect us to ship as many goals this season. Particularly Ryan Higgins, he was a key cog at Southport, time and time again he stood out in their struggling team. His goal against Truro was absolutely wonderful and I think he’ll be a real asset this season in a position we quite often struggle to fill.
4 – What’s your biggest concern for the season ahead?
DR – My biggest concern is as always another relegation scrap. Unfortunately we seem to have that mentality at the moment, and go on terrible runs that get us into trouble. Things have got to change and I think the new players will help; players like Gowling and Clarke who have had success before and know how to manage their form through-out the season. Let’s push away from the bottom four early and don’t look back!
LH – Injuries. We’re again very light on legs and as the academy structure still finds its feet, we’re not in a position to call on it to booster numbers. Thankfully, Gareth Law does an exceptional job and if he can keep the likes of Luke Young off the injury table, we’ll finish better placed than we did last year.
5 – Which away trip are you most looking forward to?
DR – Next Tuesday at Aldershot! The Shots crowd always make a great noise, and I hope we take a decent following (and get a decent result).
LH – Gateshead. It’s the fourth consecutive time I’ve been and every time is such a laugh. Even coming from Manchester, it’s a long way, so absolute kudos to any Devonians that do the 774 mile round trip. There’s a comradery between supporters that make a journey that far North, not to mention the drink, any trip around Newcastle offers an excuse to indulge, there’s a little pub called The Schooner on the banks of the Tyne which is a personal favorite. I’ll hopefully see a few of you there a week on Saturday.
6 – Which team do you most want us to beat?
DR – Eastleigh over Xmas/New Year. We haven’t had much success against them, and it’s about time that changed! They have spent loads and achieved little, plus there brand of football has been boring.
LH – Barrow. There’s always been an arrogance about Cox and his sides, something that’s only enjoyable if it’s your own. Plus, with a budget that must be treble ours, let’s show that money isn’t everything.
7 – Which club is a dark horse in the National League?
DR – I’ll go for Sutton United – without their Cup run last year I imagine they would have been higher up the league and they looked pretty tasty at Plainmoor (even with an outfield player in goal!). Other than that Macclesfield have been building steadily, and it might be time for them to push for promotion.
LH – Keep an eye on AFC Fylde, I’m not saying they’ll run away with it, but there’s quite a bit of money behind the Mill Farm outfit and they’ll be competitive. I watched them beat FC United of Manchester 3-1 last season and on that performance alone they were conference standard – they won’t be here to make up the numbers. Barrow and Aldershot have also recruited well.
8 – Who should be captain?
DR – For me it would have been Luke Young. Fighting fit for the season ahead, leading by example in midfield as always. However Gowling is a good alternative so I don’t mind Nico choosing him!
LH – Josh Gowling. Experience and intelligence. Two of the key components when it comes to captaincy. I maintain he’ll be a big piece of our jigsaw this season, for the right reasons.
9 – What is your first 11 for Saturday?
DR – Clarke, Chaney (Assuming Davis is injured), Higgins, Gowling, McGinty, Lathrope, Young, Gosling, Lee, Pittman, Keating – 4-4-2
LH – Clarke (GK), Chaney (LB) (likewise Dom, dependent on injury), Higgins, Gowling (CB), McGinty (CB), Gosling (LM), Young (CM), Kulukowski (CM), Lee (RM), Pittman (FW), Keating (FW). 4-4-2.
10 – What is your prediction for Tranmere?
DR – Two pints followed by a 2-2 draw, with us scoring a late equaliser! Goalscorers: Gowling and Young.
LH – I have a good feeling about Saturday, Tranmere are massive favourites this season so anything will be a bonus but a long journey on the opening day is never desirable. I’ll put my neck out at 2-1, with goals from JP and Ruairi.