The kick-off is upon us already and it’s even closer for The Lions than for most teams with us travelling to Nottingham to play Forest on Friday night in the first match of the season back in the Championship.
When the fixtures were published, it brought home to supporters the scale of the difference between the Championship and League One. The clubs are so much bigger. We get to play at bigger stadiums, in front of bigger crowds and against better players.
We will be pitting ourselves against clubs with much greater resources than those we faced last season, including those teams who have the unfair monetary advantage of parachute payments.
But we’ll be relying on our team spirit including that never-say-die belief of the players and supporters to get the results we need to first secure our place in this division.
And if Burton Albion can stay up, we have a good chance – but it’s crucial we do the basics better than the opposition teams for more matches than we don’t.
Lions supporters have been very happy with the business done by manager Neil Harris during the summer. We have brought in a strong mixture of youth and experience which has improved our squad for the challenges ahead.
The midfield has been strengthened with the signings of George Saville and Jed Wallace from Wolves along with our most recent signing Ryan Tunnicliffe from Fulham.
Our defence is much better for the signings of Australian left-back James Meredith from Bradford City, right-back Conor McLaughlin from Fleetwood Town. Last Friday centre-back Jake Cooper returned to the Den after signing from Reading following his loan spell last season. We even brought in a different style of striker in Tom Elliott. It’s probably been the best summer signings we’ve made in the last 30 years.
The contract saga of winger Fred Onyedinma was put to bed and he can now concentrate on proving his worth for us in the Championship. Fans favourite Jimmy Abdou signed another year’s contract but immediately went out on loan to AFC Wimbledon for the season.
This was a nice gesture by the club which will almost certainly give Jimmy a much-deserved testimonial in a year’s time after 10 years with the club. Also the young, but inexperienced striker, Harry Smith will learn lots from his season long loan to Swindon Town.
We struggled to find the back of the net in our pre-season friendlies until we turned over Granada 3-0 at The Den on Saturday. It looks like we are still going to be reliant on veteran striker Steve Morison and his successful partner of the last couple of seasons, Lee Gregory.
Youngsters like Aidan O’Brien and Fred Onyedinma along with new signing Tom Elliott will back up Morison and Gregory but the first choice pair will have a big weight on their shoulders.
We want to start the season well taking forward the momentum from last season. The first month will go a long way to indicating how the season might go. After Forest we entertain Stevenage in the League Cup on Tuesday night at The Den and then Bolton back in the League at home on Saturday.