Paul looks ahead to the opening of the new seasonAs far as opening-day fixtures go, hosting Portsmouth at the Park could hardly be any more mouthwatering.
Pompey, who have recruited over the summer to the extent that Andy Awford’s team are being widely tipped for promotion, are visitors at the Park for the Saturday 3pm kick-off.
With the visitors quickly selling out their allocation, the atmosphere inside SJP is set to be electric.
And Grecians manager Paul Tisdale is keenly anticipating the chance for his young side to show their mettle in the most challenging of circumstances this weekend.
“It’ll be a terrific game in a great atmosphere,” Paul said. “The first game of the season is always a good one anyway, but Portsmouth at home will be a really good game.
“There’s a bright future ahead for this young team – it might be a difficult start and a real challenge, and there may be some challenging months ahead. But we’ve got the makings of a terrific team in the next year or two.
“There is an open door for our young players – there aren’t too many players standing in their way. We had a real surprise last year with Matt Grimes coming through so quickly and playing in the first team – it’s not out of the question that we’ll get another one of those players coming through. Connor Riley-Lowe, Alex Byrne or Jason Pope may just do what Matt did last year and shoot into the team.
“Regardless of an embargo or not, we had a policy to do that and we’re at a point where we’re actively promoting this type of team and we need those type of players to come through.”
For all the off-field trials that City have been working through, the manager is embracing the fresh start this season.
With little in the way of squad turnover, the Grecians won’t be suffering with the ‘bedding-in’ problems that many clubs encounter at this time of year, which could work in Exeter’s favour in the next week and a half.
“There is that anticipation, and as Exeter City manager you’re never sure quite what’s around the corner,” said Tis. “We are well aware of our model and how we do things but it’s not watertight in terms of planning and potential during the season.
“We do the very best with what we’ve got and we’re forever looking to develop young players, and that entails a degree of uncertainty with their development. We start the season this year younger and more uncertain than ever.
“We’ve had a very difficult summer with the embargo, and a very interesting summer with the trip to Brazil. The legacy of Brazil has been some illness and uncertainty over who is going to be fit for the start of the season, and with a small squad we enter into possibly the toughest week of the season.
“One thing we haven’t got this season is uncertainty over the type of team we want to pick and how we’re going to play.
“That has been a cause for debate in different seasons, but in this current year we’re very set on what fits the players best.”
Niggles and illness could leave Exeter a tad lighter than optimum this weekend but that isn’t denting Paul’s optimism that the three points are there to be won.
He is calling on some of his talents to show that they can be match-winners against the Hampshire club this weekend.
Tis said: “I’d like to get my best team on the pitch – we’re probably three or four short of that this Saturday, and we need to get through a couple of weeks really while we get over illness.
“But we’ll be set and organised and understand our jobs. We’re not going to be the strongest that we’re going to be – I think we will get stronger as the season goes on, and as August goes on. It’s going to be a very difficult week and we’re not going to get any favours from Plymouth, Bournemouth or Portsmouth over the next ten days.
“We have to come out and fight and compete, and some of our young players have to step up and do something to tip the balance our way. On the right day I think we’ll be able to do that.”