Today is the day we have all been waiting for. The day we have dreamed about all summer. Arguably the best day of the day. Today is opening day of the football season. Blackburn and Cardiff may have played out a draw last night in a good yet cagey curtain raiser, but today is when it really starts up and down the country for every other Sky Bet Football League, Vanarama Conference and lower league sides.
In Gloucestershire there are three main teams, Cheltenham Town, Forest Green and Gloucester City. Here is my quick insight into how I feel the teams are shaping up ahead of the big kick off this afternoon.
I am sat here looking at Cheltenham’s squad. Looking at their transfers in and transfers out since the end of last season with the most confused facial expression I have ever pulled.
The list of players signed for me pales in comparison to the list of players who have moved on. The likes of Jamie Cureton, Scott Brown and Ashley Vincent heading up the list of experienced players that the Robins have allowed to leave. I am struggling to get my head round letting Cureton go. Yes he is 38 years old and yes he doesn’t have long left but considering the period of transition Cheltenham are in I would have kept him. If nothing more than just another man up front, at the moment Cheltenham only have three first team strikers registered to the team, so if I was a Cheltenham youth striker I would fancy my chances of getting some game time. But I would still have craved the chance to play with and learn from Cureton, a man who has travelled here there and everywhere, becoming a cult hero at most places he has played.
The list of players out also includes players who were fundamental players with pivotal roles in Cheltenham’s play off bid throughout the last few years, Jermaine McGlashan and Sido Jombati. Two players who for me could only improve any League Two side, McGlashan in particular reminds me of Nathan Dyer, a small quick player who despite a size disadvantage against most defenders still likes to get stuck in.
In the players in column there is the more youthful options. Youthful but inexperienced. In the Football League experience is vital, and Cheltenham have signed numerous players under the age of 25 and numerous players who have come from lower leagues. Its a heck of a gamble for a manager who I feel is walking into the last chance saloon. Another year of failure will see Yates go for me. And as I hinted on the Severn Sport Friday warm up last night, a bad start for the Robins (which starts against Bury today) could see Mark Yates joining the unemployment line in time for Christmas. With the pre-season Cheltenham have had too it doesn’t look promising at all.
Forest Green Rovers
I can sum up the season for the Gloucestershire teams in one sentence. Forest Green have the best chance to achieve promotion out of the main three teams. Simple.
I can and will make such a statement due to the one thing Forest Green have done that teams like Cheltenham haven’t. They have replaced experience with even more experience.
Forest Green are running out of time in regards to actually managing to get promoted to the Football League. They started well last season but fell away in quite drastic style. This year there is a new manager. New signings. New food on the menu and hopefully new and improved branding of football. Maybe not the latter. Quite frankly if you want to go and watch the best rendition of Brazilian football this side of Gloucestershire (maybe not after the Germany mauling) then Forest Green won’t be the place in my opinion. But as we see in every single league, the most attractive football isn’t the most effective….just ask Arsenal fans. No, with a strike force than includes BOTH Lee Hughes and Jon Parkin, the ball will be long. The game will be physical and as it summed up this week by Matt Yates “Forest Green will be the place for goals and cards.” I also see it being the place for success. Champions? Lets see what Bristol Rovers have to say first. Promotion? I think so.
Two transfers that have caught my eye from the New Lawn are the outgoing of Yan Klukowski to Newport and the incoming of Clovis Kamdjo. Clovis has always been on my radar since my cousin first told me about his insane ability on a Football Manager game a few seasons ago. He could be a player to make a real difference for Rovers and with a man like Klukowski departing it is vital that he makes sure he is the man Forest Green can rely on. With teams like Luton and Cambridge out of the Conference this should, I repeat should pave a way for Forest Green to finally find a way to the promised land of the Football League.
Gloucester City AFC
Ahh the Tigers. The team that we at Severn Sport tend to favour due to locale and loyalties. But I think we have to expect the usual. Simply because until Gloucester City are back in Gloucester, I do not and cannot see anything special happening. As I said on the show last night, the best I can hope for City is matching or chasing the record breaking points tally set two seasons ago. That for me, is a fair target and a fair assessment as to where Gloucester are as a club. Which pains me to say.
Let’s stay on the field for this one otherwise you will miss kick off later. I like this Gloucester City side and I like the way Tim Harris is building his team. Honestly, Harris has got rid of the deadwood that Boris left behind. Without seeming negative about the previous regime I felt that Boris was very loyal to certain players and had a group of experienced players who would lay themselves on the line week in week out for him. Players like Darren Edwards, Matt Coupe and Will Morford have moved on to other things and other places. Tom Webb realistically won’t last forever (we would all like to see an 40-50 year old Tom Webb doing the business) but City have a new batch of talent to sink their teeth into. New talent mixed with returning experience. Players like Jack Harris and Adam Mann have one extra year under their belts now and those two amongst others will be looked at as kingpins of the side. Mann especially for me is getting better everytime I see him. He has bulked up and looks to be benefiting greatly from that. If he can go a season without any injuries or little niggly problems then we could see the birth of a City superstar.
In regards to some of the older players coming into the squad I like how Tim Harris has used his links and ties to bring players back to the club and back to the local area. Players who know the county well and have played football in the county. They will be able to understand the importance of the club and how much it means to the fans. For me, no other non-league side has a better fan base than Gloucester City, the passion is outstanding. It is just a shame that it isn’t bigger.
The season ahead for Gloucester, mid table chasing that points tally. That is what my head says. My heart? My heart says Gloucester are going to win the play-offs.
Whoever you are, wherever you are going today. Enjoy yourself because the football season is back. Forget Christmas. Football season ’tis the season to be jolly. It’s great to have it back so cherish it.
DON’T MISS THE SEVERN SPORT PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYERS TO WATCH SERIES STARTING TUESDAY