Manager Dean Holdsworth was approached by Crawley Town last season and was widely expected to join, which speaks volumes for the work he has done at Aldershot Town. Their season ended with mid-table obscurity, but with Holdsworth in charge Shots fans must be hopeful they can continue their progress this time around.
It’s Round and It’s White caught up with Shots fan Seb Segarra (@PitchsidePie) to get his views on the team’s hopes for the new season.
How did last season measure up, compared to your expectations?
At the start of our season many fans drifted between the hope that we could regain our spot in the play-offs and the fear that we might end up dropping like a stone back into the non-league abyss. Dean Holdsworth had worked wonders in his first half-season with us, making up for an horrific start, and many were seeing him being at the helm as a reason to be optimistic.
I think that, while realistically we finished in a decent position for the season we had, early season results massively let us down. We managed to cut our problem of too many draws from the previous season, and massively at that. We still had too many losses as we finished three places ahead of our placing in the 2010-11 season. A footnote is that we reached the League Cup 4th round, before losing to Manchester United in a game that we can feel hard done by after playing well for large parts of it.
What do you think of your club’s summer transfer activity, are there more arrivals/exits on the horizon?
We have lost our captain, but Ben Herd seems a ready replacement. A couple of loan signings here and there have strengthened our squad, including the one month loan of Blackburn defender Myles Anderson. Our major signing is probably Craig Reid from Stevenage. He has worked with Holdsworth at Newport County too, so a promising signing. The club are quite tight-lipped on transfers and maybe one more signing, permanent or on loan, could be expected. Loans will be made throughout the season too, but no one too exciting will arrive or leave from now until January. One exception is a striker, which we seriously need.
What would be a dream new season for you?
Realistic dream would be winning the play-offs. It is a bonus being in League Two, with four promotion spots (including the play-offs) available, and most teams start off each season looking to break into the play-offs. Hopefully a few players will hit top form too. The ultimate dream would easily be winning the league and an FA Cup run. It is very tough league to establish a name in, however everyone can beat everyone so a good start could see the dream become reality. A run to the 3rd round of the FA Cup and an away tie against a top-four club. More money for the club to grow then. We also need to keep hold of Holdsworth if we get promoted. Nothing worse than seeing all of your promoted team being pulled apart by a former manager at another club.
What would be your worst nightmare?
Relegation. As above, anyone can beat anyone so it isn’t too much of a distant concept for many teams. We do not want to be one of those three. Failing that, long-term injuries to key players are always a nightmare, particularly with such a small squad, as many clubs at this level have.
Who will be your most important player/s this season?
Ben Herd has a massive season ahead of him after being made captain. He knows the club well and is going to be vital in keeping the team together at the back. Any striker available could be key too as we seek some goals. Danny Hylton, normally first choice, is currently embarking on a long suspension after being found guilty of racial abuse.
Any players you would happily see the back of?
Can’t say there is. We’ve not had any players who have done very badly or been at logger-heads with the management/fans -this year anyway.
Do you have the best manager for the job?
I’d say definitely. He is 43, has a good record with us, and he is now establishing himself as part of the club. I’m a great believer in putting long-term faith in managers.
Opposition players that you respect?
Pick a player from the Barnet team that has been there for the last two seasons. Two great escapes from relegation and they are still putting in the work to keep their club in the Football League.
Opposition players that you despise?
If Shrewsbury hadn’t been promoted, it would have been Marvin Morgan. I’m still bitter at how he turned his poor performances on the Aldershot fans when he was here. Generally no players that I despise.
Best away fans/ground in your league?
Being quite an unglamorous side in our division, home games don’t bring loads of away fans, except for the hardcores. Basically, any team which can give us a game for noise gets my vote as best fans.
Which teams do you really want to beat this season?
Any team that finished above us in the 2011-12 season. Oxford too. A few friends that I could rib for that one.
Finally, where do you honestly think you will finish?
After a promising game v Wolves in the League Cup, which we lost 7-6 on penalties, I’m confident we have a first team to match most teams in our division. If I had to pick, I can see us just missing out on the play-offs again. Unfortunately, I can’t see where the goals will come from this season, and the difference between the decent and the good teams is a goal-threat. 8th place for The Shots, unless a new striker is brought in.
Aldershot fans, do you agree or disagree with Seb’s comments? Why not sign up and have your say in the comments section below?