Barnet just about scraped it against all odds again last season. Looking destined to making a swift exit out of League Two in the wrong direction, they somehow managed to claw their way to safety.
After manager Mark Stimson lost his job within his first year, the challenge of saving the seemingly dead and buried Barnet fell to Martin Allen. It turned out that Allen would only be in charge for 3 games, but those 3 games made all the difference come the end of the season. When he announced he was leaving the club for Notts County, for what he described as personal reasons such as having to pay the bills, the fans were less than sympathetic. Assistant manager Giuliano Grazioli was forced to step up to the plate, and he did, notably defeating Port Vale in the final game of the season to survive by just one single point. Pitch invasions rightly followed, fans filled with jubilation. The club has since appointed former Northern Ireland and Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez on a permanent basis.
We got hold of Bees fan Matt Eccles (@heezahgeezah) for a little interview on what expectations will be placed upon Sanchez’s shoulders in the next 10 months.
What would be a dream season for you?
We’re a realistic bunch at Underhill, so not being stuck in our perennial relegation scrap would make for a welcome change. It’d be great to relax on the final day of the season watching someone else slug it out for survival. A cup run would be a welcome distraction too, even in the JPT! If we’re talking dreamland – the play-offs 😉
What would be your worst nightmare?
Losing our league status and the chairman Tony Kleanthous walking away.
What do you think of your club’s summer transfer activity?
I’m happy with Dean Brill in the nets and the permanent signings of midfielders Mark Byrne and Sam Deering after they performed well for us on loan last season, although the midfield in general are a small bunch, so hopefully we’ll see some decent football. It’ll be interesting to see if veteran Jason Price can earn himself a longer contract than the month he’s been given up front. The biggest disappointment was losing home grown defender Joe Devera to Swindon after his contract ran down!
Who will be your most important player/s this season?
Izale McLeod without a doubt. He’s been in good form pre-season and scored important goals for us at the back end of last season. If we can get Steve Kabba fit and link them together they will cause problems for most defences at this level, especially if they can get on the end of a bit of magic from Mark Marshall and Deering from ‘the wide areas.’
Any players you would happily see the back of?
No, we have a small squad and a budget to match, so we welcome those that want to play for us, supporters have to have faith in the management and get behind the team. As I’ve said we’re a realistic crowd and that will prove to be the case.
Do you have the best manager for the job?
Lawrie Sanchez has a proven track record in the game and we’re incredibly lucky to have someone of his calibre at the helm. Ably assisted by club favourite Guilliano Grazioli I think we’re in good hands.
Opposition players that you respect?
Adam Le Fondre at Rotherham springs to mind but he had his head turned in the January transfer window and didn’t look like the same player after that. I’d also like to see ex-bee Simon King overcome his prolonged injury problems at Gillingham and get himself back into their side (after we’ve played them on August 16th 😉
Opposition players that you despise?
The Daggers Mark Arber didn’t cover himself in glory when he left the club, so he’ll be the pantomime villain this season.
Best away fans/ground in your league?
Based on last season I’d give it to Port Vale, they have a decent following in North London and didn’t begrudge us three vital points that ensured our last gasp survival. Being exiled in the Midlands, I like the trip to Hereford (not sure that my bee brethren will concur) the ground also reminds me of Underhill and we got an important result there last season.
Which teams do you really want to beat this season?
Dagenham and Redbridge is the nearest thing we’ll have to a derby and ex-manager John Still (who is a fantastic bloke by the way) and the aforementioned Mark Arber will give it an extra edge. I’d like to see us beat Crewe on the road too, to make up for last seasons seven goal debacle. Three points away to Morecambe on day one would also be a statement of intent!
Finally, where do you honestly think you will finish?
I’d be happy with anywhere between 12th and 22nd. If you put a gun to my head – 15th!
Barnet fans, do you agree or disagree with Matt’s comments? Why not sign up and have your say in the comments section below???