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The season starts here

As your editor is off for an early spying mission at Brisbane Road tomorrow, a couple of pre-Plymouth thoughts…

Optimism is definitely high coming into 2015/16. We’ve had a good pre-season, we’ve not lost a game, we’ve shown varying degrees of promise at times, and we’ve even got more than one striker now.

Obviously, any good vibes will be shattered at 1501 tomorrow, when Craig Tanner scores from 20 yards (come on, you just know he’s going to – and we’ll get that shit celebration he promised to show us last season).

But we do feel more prepared this time round. Not 100% perfect, as NA hints here, but the 2015/16 squad feels as ready and raring to go for the first time since probably the Conference South days.

Nobody bar Osbourne is on loan, which helps things a lot. And our centre back from Brizzle City is here for the whole campaign (and maybe beyond…).

This means more pressure on us and especially NA, for reasons we’ve gone into during previous SW19 PSF updates. Last season was the first time since returning to the FL that we didn’t look over our shoulders at the drop, and it was a much nicer experience all round.

Indeed, should we be looking at playoffs? Or even higher? League Two is unique insofar as so many teams have a chance to get promoted, either automatically or via additional games post-season.

It all depends on how well we gel, how effective NA’s tactics really are, luck with injuries and how good the opposition are. Or more accurately, how we deal with the physical, scrappy side of things.

Plus of course, if we finally – finally – sort out our record against the strugglers. You can work out the stats yourself, but it’s gone beyond embarrassing on that score.

If we don’t figure it out, we’ll be around 15/16th again, and that really would be a failure. And you would have to openly question why Ardley changes squads so many times but still gets the same lack of results…

Still, new season optimism abounds, and there will be many looking forward to the trip tomorrow week 😉 Before then, there’s Cardiff on Tuesday, and even before the first ball is kicked, there’s the JPT draw on Sucker AM.

Looking at who we could get, we can consider it a victory if we’re drawn at home. We’re certainly due a JPT game at KM (hell, we’re due a League Cup fixture as well), as even I don’t really fancy Plymouth or Exeter away. Mind you, as it’s north of the river, many would give Barnet a wide berth too.

As last season showed, a cup run or two does wonders, not just for the bank balance but for the excitability factor as well. The latter seems to be considered taboo on occasions, for some reason, and not just at AFCW. Witness some saying that West Ham are best off out of the Europa League, even though winning games breeds a winning mentality…

Oh, and we don’t have the Franchise circus to deal with this season. At least, not for now.

Obviously, NPL will play a key factor this season, with all that entails, and the watchword is simply “patience”.  Things appear to be in hand, there aren’t any obvious alarm bells ringing,  and it’s best for all concerned to get it right at the first time of asking.

Don’t underestimate the size – and complexity – of such a project, one that has so many variables (and emotion) attached to it. It took Warrington RL a good 7/8 years to get the Halliwell Jones, and that’s in a part of the country that doesn’t have the extra issues that London has.

We’d like LBM to make a decision sooner rather than later, but I’m happy to wait until 2016 if it means we get the correct one. After all, 2017/18 was always over-optimistic, and Brentford haven’t started their new stadium yet.

That’s all to come. For now, summer is effectively over and the next nine months will see your weekends ruined/enhanced. Let’s just hope the former doesn’t happen just yet…