As we enter a busy pre-season period, before the big kick off on Sunday, optimism within the supporter base has increased with record season ticket sales. The club have increased stadium capacity by a further 2500, as the transitional change goes into overdrive.
“Going into last season, we had a very aging squad. We’d done well to compete, but there was a worry that significant surgery was going to be needed on the playing staff front. Martinez left the club mid-season, with us mid-table but with the squad in the same position with 18 players over the age of 30 with many of these heading into their mid 30’s. We appointed Mullan, from Napoli giving him a clear objective of building the future. We wanted more emphasis and effort on our youth set up. We wanted a first team which could continue to compete, but a clear path for our squad players and youth team to progress into first team players. We felt, beyond our core 15 or 16 players, the gap in quality was far too great for the remainder of the squad to impact the first team. With age not on the first teams side, there was a genuine worry that these players had passed the point of being tradeable assets, and were now seen as players on the steep decline. We set out a plan to trade what we could, knowing we’d have to trade again going into this season, and probably again mid season this year. The squad is taking shape, has incretsed in value and we now have assets who can continue to improve. We are on a long term plan here and with that we’ve set a target of a mid table finish. I’ve taken into account, the bedding in period of many new players but also the transfer activity elsewhere. The market has been vibrant with some of the worlds best footballers swapping clubs. I think the table is going to be very interesting this season with clubs like Arsenal and Real Madrid on the upward curve, whilst our opening day opponents Juventus are possibly favourites to win the title, given the departures from Barcelona. The updates have also seen a number of clubs get those vital upgrades to their starting 11, which will give them a boost in terms of table position possibilities. The thought of standing still with your squad is now a scary proposition, given the turnover of players at other clubs.”
“This is the Managers first full season, but we ask our supporters to judge in season 3. I think 3 full seasons at any club is giving any manager enough time to make the squad their own. We are supportive of the transition at board level, and are pleased with the early signs. We believe there is enough quality in the squad to sustain our division 1 status, whilst we have a greater balance of youth and first team players. We are not expected at this stage to compete with the likes of Juventus, Chelsea and Barcelona, but do have a clear vision of trying to break into the next tier of clubs by season 3. If we can become a regurlar top 6 club, then in our opinion this would be success for a club our size”