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Opinion: A Fortnight(ish) to Go & I’m Starting to Get Worried

It’s not you, it’s me

Southampton v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

I write this following the conclusion of Stockport County 0-0 Bolton Wanderers in a pre-season friendly at what I presume is still called Edgeley Park, former home of Alun Armstrong, who we should’ve signed.

Reflecting on the result and considering the personnel involved, I can’t say that the result really bothered me too much. That is, until the realisation hit me that we are basically using pre-season as a method to give a home to the various waifs and strays collected by Lee Anderson on his emoji based travels. They call it superagenting.

If I may quote the great Lance Storm, then I would like to get serious for a minute.

Wanderers have now completed their sixth game of pre-season, winning three (the first three) before drawing against AFC Fylde and losing to Fleetwood Town at the weekend. We have Stoke City at home on Saturday as Parkinson’s men wrap things up and we get used to seeing Adam Le Fondre play wide left.

The opening game of the season is a fortnight(ish) away - Leeds United at home on 6th August, and I’m starting to get worried.

I think it’s fair to say that our recruitment this summer has been mixed. Everyone was as happy to see Sammy Ameobi sign as they were disappointed to see Jay Spearing leave. Since then, however, we’ve had more trialists than the Old Bailey, with no real sign as yet of bringing in any of these players on permanent deals.

It worries me that we haven’t been able to further strengthen, following the Adam Armstrong signing, our attacking options. To have him, Ameobi, ALF and Gary Madine fills me with worry. As earnest as all those players are, there isn’t a whole load of recent pedigree in terms of goalscoring in the group. ALF is our best shot.

The midfield remains weak, in my opinion. I see our rivals snapping up players at a rate which fills me with envy. The embargo is what it is, and there’s nothing that poor old Parky can do about that, but it is killing us.

Defensively, signing Taylor was a no-brainer, whilst Mark Little and Stephen Darby have barely registered on my radar so I can’t comment on their quality. I have no issues with Mark Beevers, but Dorian Dervite and David Wheater need to start the season strongly to convince us that 2016 was a blip.

Ben Amos, Ben Alnwick and Mark Howard remain on-board as options - well Amos probably isn’t, which is odd. I would much rather start him than the other two. He might well have had poor form in his last two seasons but the time before that saw him prove what a good keeper he is. If we can’t shift him, and we are paying him, then play him!

All this aside, I am excited for the upcoming season.

I’m interested to see whether Josh Vela can kick on and prove himself at Championship level. I’m interested to see whether Jake Turner will get a sniff. I’m interested to see Jem Karacan pull the strings in midfield in the way that I saw him do so well at Reading.

I’m even interested to see what Gary Madine does. Can he continue to defy the odds and, seemingly, all logic to remain important for the club?

I’m actually most interested to see what Ken Anderson does. Will he continue to negotiate unsuccessfully with American investors? With British Indian investors? Will he continue to demand that he is kept on as a well-paid chairman even when giving the club away for free?

I just hope that whatever happens, live or die, we put up more of a fight than we did in Neil Lennon’s final season at the club. I don’t think I could take another shambolic season such as that one. There was no fight, there was no organisation and there was no hope.

Despite the obstacles we currently face, there is hope, and it’s hope that we all cling to. In Parky we trust.