Our club-by-club guide to the 2016/17 season
Manager: Jim Bentley
Home: Globe Arena
Last season’s top-scorer: Shaun Miller (15)
Although Miller’s departure has rendered Morcambe’s forward line significantly weaker, manager Jim Bentley has thus far focussed on shoring up his back four, signing centre-backs Liam Wakefield and Dean Winnard, whilst also retaining the services of former Burnley left-back Luke Conlan on a permanent basis.
In spite of the difficult spells that blighted Morecambe during last season, Bentley has taken heart from the fact that the Shrimps are renowned for hitting the ground running. As a result, he has opted to leave his pre-season preparations largely unaltered, stating that “our pre-season is set up in February, March time and its tried and tested and has done well… We’ve actually had one or two other coaches and managers ask us over the last year or so what we do to get off to such a fantastic start.”
Shaun Miller netted a penalty against City last January.
Home: Rodney Parade
Last season’s top-scorer: Scott Boden (15)
Following their impressive 9th placed finish during the 2014/15 season, the Exiles were unable to build on their success and ended the previous campaign just one spot above the relegation zone.
Their performances have led manager Warren Feeney to overhaul his squad, with an astonishing thirteen players taking their leave from Rodney Parade. This has been offset by the arrival of eleven new faces, including ex-Arsenal youth player Mark Randall and former Exeter City captain Scot Bennett, who made 132 appearances for the Grecians between 2008 and 2015.
In spite of the massive turnover of players, Feeney has downplayed the difficulties that this might present: “You want to try and keep the core of the squad as well but you’ve got to offer them what you think they’re worth, and if they think they are better than that then they’ve got to move on.”
Newport manager WarrenFeeney.
Manager: John Sheridan
Home: Meadow Lane
Last season’s top-scorer: Jon Stead
Last season was an extremely turbulent affair for Notts County. Having begun the season looking to bounce straight back into League 1, the squad’s poor form ultimately led to the dismissal of 3 managers, whilst chairman Ray Trew also stepped down in February.
Appointed at the end of May, new manager John Sheridan has set about the task of rebuilding the County squad with vigour, having made seven signings by the start of July including the likes of Carl Dickinson, Richard Duffy and Northern Ireland international Michael O’Connor from League 1 side Port Vale.
Jake Taylor made a big impact at Meadow Lane last March.
Manager: Derek Adams
Home: Home Park
Last season’s top-scorer: Graham Carey/Jake Jervis (11)
In spite of their success, the summer transfer window started in difficult circumstances with several players opting not to renew their contracts. These losses have however been mediated by a number of exciting signings including David Goodwillie and Gary Miller, who have joined from SPL clubs Aberdeen and Partick Thistle respectively, and Latvian international Nauris Bulvitis.
With a large number of big money signings arriving at Home Park, Argyle’s Chief-Executive Martyn Starnes has suggested that Adams’ new squad might just be able to go one better than its forebear and secure promotion: “We have consistently improved the financial position of the club, and have improved the quality of the squad, and that’s been reflected in our finishing position… I think Derek has assembled, and is assembling a squad, which is capable [of gaining promotion].”
Reuben Reid is amongst the high-profile departures at Home Park this summer.