After 13 weeks that contained the World Cup and Football not quite return home, we are back into competitive club action as Morecambe arrive at the Alexandra Stadium on Saturday in the first of 46 league games.
With the arrival of 4 new signings, two of which were here for the second-half of last season, manager David Artell told Radio Stoke on Tuesday that he had a stronger squad than last season and it’ll be interesting if we can build on having the 2nd best results in the final 15 games from last season and take that into this one.
Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met just 10 times with the Alex leading the head-to-head record by 6 wins to 3. Last season saw the Alex complete their second league double against the Shrimps by winning both games 1-0, ironically their other double (which came in the 10/11 season) also saw both games finish by the same score-line (although both games that season finished 2-1 to the Alex) whilst Morecambe won both the first 2 meetings between the sides during the 09/10 season. In all of the 9 meetings that either team have won, the winning team has never won by more than 1 goal.
What do you think of Morecambe’s transfer activity over the summer?
We have had a bit of an overhaul, particularly in forward positions which was much needed after last season. The main positive for me is having been able to keep 3 out of 4 of our starting defenders which bodes well given the good defensive record we had, despite our league position.
What do you think the team will be for Saturday’s game?
No idea. Unfortunately I have only been able to see one pre-season game this year with us having the pitch re-laid and a couple of games called off due to hard pitches. Barry Roche will start in goal but most other positions are up for grabs.
Who would you say is the one player that we should look for in the Shrimps’ team?
I think Sam Lavelle in defence has the potential to be an outstanding player. He was my player of the year last year and only really broke into the first team half way through the season. If he continues on that form, he will no doubt be snapped up by a club at a higher division.
After staying up due to having a better goal-difference than relegated Barnet last season, how do you think Morecambe will do this season?
Given that we have kept the same defence but strengthened in forward areas, I am optimistic that we will have a better season. I don’t think we will suddenly propel right up the league but a comfortable mid-table finish would be a positive improvement. There is always a wildcard and there is no reason we couldn’t make a surprise push for a play-off place.
Who do you think will be promoted and relegated at the end of the season?
Notts County are my favourites for the title, and could be joined by MK Dons and Lincoln. While we are always the favourites for the drops, we have been beating the bookies for 11 years now and therefore my favourites for the drop are Yeovil and Cheltenham.