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    Season 2013/14 Preview

    by The Boy Holty

    This season 2013/14 promises to be quite different to pretty much anything that has gone before in recent seasons, especially last year when we were relegated amidst an utterly miserable season. The old board and chairman Brian Fenton has gone, to be replaced by the much younger, more enthusiastic, more knowledgeable Stewart Day and his board, who have so far brought common sense, fan-pleasing decisions and greater financial clout than anyone has for many years. After much uncertainty early on, this correspondent is now fairly sure that the club is in safe hands.

    Following the sales of David Worrall and Steven Schumacher and Phil Picken's long term injury, the club had just five fit first team players in June and Kevin Blackwell, buoyed by the new ownership set about the task of building a new squad. Progress was slow at first and fans started getting a little twitchy before a flurry of signings was announced. At the time of writing (and with KB having his eye on at least one or two more), we have a squad of 24 players, not including Picken; 13 brand new players, 2 loans, 2 of last seasons squad offered new deals and 6 existing contracted players.

    There exists the very real possibility of our starting team on Saturday's opener against Chesterfield containing 11 debutants.

    As for predictions, its almost impossible to make anything other than a wild guess as to what will happen over the next nine months. I believe we hve quite a strong squad, but they may take time to gel, and it no secret what difference a good or bad start to a season can make. I think we'll start slowly and then pick up as the season goes on. Another problem could be the lack of match practise the squad has had with many preferred opponents unwilling to arrange friendlies against us owing to nucertaintly over the club's future earlier in the summer.

    Some of our signings seem very good. The acquisition of Tom Soares and Ashley Grimes are what excite me most, plus there's Anton Forrester, scorer of a double hat-trick in a pre-season game, plus Richard Hinds, new club captain Gareth Roberts and Andy Procter. Of course Blackwell's first choice side will not become truly apparent until five or six games in, I shouldn't think.

    So here's our squad as it stands today. Squad numbers have been assigned and are shown but some players have been left out. Maybe this means Blackwell has no plans for these boys. . .

    NoPlayerPosDoBAgeNationalitySigned DateFeeContract
    1Trevor CarsonGK05/03/198825N Ireland22/05/201202
    2Shaun Beeley (loan - Fleetwood)RB21/11/198923England30/07/2013n/a0.5
    3Gareth Roberts (Captain)LB06/02/197835Wales27/06/201301
    4Richard HindsCB22/08/198032England16/07/201302
    5Nathan CameronCB21/11/199121England28/06/201302
    6Andy ProcterCM13/03/198330England01/07/201302
    7Craig JonesW20/03/198726Wales01/08/2012undisc2
    8Tom SoaresW10/07/198627England02/07/201302
    9Anton Forrester (Loan Blackburn)CF11/02/199419England18/07/2013n/a0.5
    10Ashley GrimesAM09/12/198626England27/06/201302
    11Euan HoldenCB/CM02/02/198825Scotland01/02/20130
    12Chris SedgewickCM28/04/198033England10/07/201301
    14Shaun HarradCF11/12/198428England31/08/2011undisc3
    16John RooneyCF17/12/199022England10/07/201301
    17Marlon JacksonCF06/12/199022England31/07/201301
    20Jessy ReindorfCF10/07/199122Rwanda24/07/201302
    23Aiden ChippendaleW24/05/199221England23/07/201301
    26Rob Lainton GK12/10/198923England08/07/201302
    27Greg McDermottCM18/10/199121England28/06/201301
    28Adam LockwoodCB26/10/198132England04/07/20120
    30Riece Charles-CookGK08/04/199419England14/07/201301
    ?Phil Picken (Inj)LB12/11/198527England04/08/20100
    ?Shane ByrneCM25/04/199320Ireland22/08/201202
    ?Tom PrattCF03/06/199518England0

    What goes on over the coming season will at worst be . . . interesting. We could well end up with the championship trophy (unlikely) or drop out of the league altogether (even more unlikely). I'm going for a safe 8th place finish, but as I've said that's pretty much a big fat guess. Here's my full prediction for the league two final table, with Bet365's odds in there just to show how crap I am at this sort of thing.

    PosTeamBet 365 OddsManagerlast season
    1Portsmouth5/1Guy Whittingham24 (L1)
    2Fleetwood Town13/2Graham Alexander13
    3Chesterfield6/1Paul Cook8
    4Burton Albion16/1Gary Rowett4
    5Cheltenham Town20/1Mark Yates5
    6Scunthorpe United16/1Brian Laws21 (L1)
    7Northampton Town22/1Aidy Boothroyd6
    8Bury25/1Kevin Blackwell22 (L1)
    9Hartlepool United20/1Colin Cooper23 (L1)
    10Bristol Rovers16/1John Ward14
    11Plymouth Argyle33/1John Sheridan21
    12Oxford United16/1Chris Wilder9
    13Torquay United33/1Alan Knill19
    14Mansfield Town28/1Paul Cox1 (Conf)
    15Newport County40/1Juston Edinburgh3 (Conf)
    16Wycombe Wanderers33/1Gareth Ainsworth15
    17York City33/1Nigel Worthington17
    18Southend United25/1Phil Brown11
    19Rochdale25/1Keith Hill12
    20Morecambe100/1Jim Bentley16
    21Exeter City40/1Paul Tisdale10
    22AFC Wimbledon50/1Neil Ardley20
    23Dagenham & Redbridge100/1Wayne Burnett22
    24Accrington Stanley100/1James Beattie18

    Whatever happens, we'll have a few top days out at Rochdale, Accrington, Fleetwood and Morecambe where I would expect a decent Shakers following. Plus there's Portsmouth where Stewart Day has offered to pay for all coach travel. Top man. Up the Shakers.