Q & A with Cheltenham Town
It's a double header this week as we talk to two Cheltenham fans (Cliffy and Vanky) ahead of tomorrow's top vs bottom clash.
1) So, a quick summary of your season so far?
Vanky: Hmm, I've repressed most of this! After selling our top scorer and sacking our manager after 6 games, we've slowly sunk to the bottom of the table and come close to administration. Our season was over a while ago
Cliffy: This season, as everyone knows, has been very poor for us. Not just with results on the pitch but with things happening off the pitch with financial problems. We have had a very poor run of results and things haven't gone our way with decisions and luck. Some of our performances have been good; the lowest point of our season was the 3-0 defeat away to Hereford and we also lost 4-0 to you here at home. We put spirited and hard-working performances against Leeds, and there have been entertaining matches against MK Dons and Peterborough. The FA Cup has been a highlight getting to the third round but we missed out on the chance of hosting Aston Villa here at Whaddon Road after losing in a replay against Doncaster. We now have to keep believing and not give up, and give the team full support into trying to fight relegation.
2) With the club in financial turmoil at the moment, do you think the team will be able to survive in the football league?
Vanky: We have a very sensible chairman, Paul Baker who's performed miracles on a shoestring. Hopefully relegation this season will give us a chance to restructure and adjust budgets.
Cliffy: I believe the team will be able to survive in the football league. Paul Baker is an excellent chairman he has got us out of trouble and worked very hard to help our financial problems at the club. We may have had to let some players leave, but I believe we will be a stronger team next season whether we will be in League One or League Two.
3) Are you happy with our old manager Martin Allen at the helm?
Vanky: I am, but there are an increasing minority who aren't. The standard of football, in my opinion has improved, under Allen, although he can seem prone to tactical blunders. I personally believe that it's hard to judge him on this season alone.
Cliffy: He's recently taken a lot of criticism from our fans for substitutions and tactics. The fans here seem to be divided by Allen. He does have a good record at his previous clubs Barnet, Brentford and MK Dons even though his time at Leicester was short-lived. I have been critical of Allen for his decision making and some of his tactical changes, but I do feel he is the right man for the job and I think he will come good here.
4) Which player should we be looking out for from your Cheltenham side on Saturday?
Vanky: That's a tough one at the moment! You'll probably see a lot of our goalkeeper, Scott Brown, who can be a fantastic reflex keeper, but with wayward kicking.
Cliffy: Elvis Hammond, the former Leicester player. Scoring twice in the midweek game against Swindon has given Elvis a much needed confidence boost and hopefully he will be able to produce a good performance.
5) And who should we be looking to exploit?
Vanky: I'm not going to name names, but we can be very disorganised in defence. We are currently without a specialist right-back and it seems that half the squad have tried playing there. Get it down the left flank, and keep flinging the crosses in.
Cliffy: You should be looking to exploit the defence as we have conceded the most goals in the football league along with the worst goal difference. We have a number of defenders out at the moment including: Alan Wright, Michael Townsend, Drissa Diallo is doubtful and Chris Westwood was recalled by Peterborough so we have limited options in defence.
6) Which teams have impressed you most so far this season?
Vanky: MK Dons and Peterborough (I haven't seen you guys this season). Peterborough played some very attractive football, and their front two were a cut above.
Cliffy: The team that has impressed so far this season are obviously Leicester, who everyone expected to be favourites for promotion. They have shown their quality with the squad they have, with some impressive loan signings. Fryatt and Howard's partnership has been very good and they have shown Championship class. MK Dons have also impressed me very much after being promoted last season they have shown that they are a very good team under Roberto Di Matteo. Peterborough, another promoted team, have also impressed me this season with the likes of McLean, Mackail-Smith and Boyd.
7) Which player in League One has impressed you most so far this season?
Vanky: Following on from the above, I'll have to go with Craig Mackail-Smith. Very hard to believe that he's just stepped up from non-league.
Cliffy: There's been a few players who have impressed me. Matty Fryatt with 22 goals so far in the league this season has shown he has the ability, and is a Championship player. Rickie Lambert from Bristol Rovers and Craig Mackail-Smith of Peterborough too.
8) You've got a few of our (current and ex!) players on board at Whaddon Road. How are they all doing this season?
Vanky: Wesolowski was a big favourite when he was here, really galvanised the team and I was gutted when he got injured. A real blow to the team. Josh Low played a bit for you. He had a tough start, but seems to be improving. He seems to be a commited player, but hardly what I'd call naturally gifted. Elvis Hammond has also struggled and come in for a lot of criticism, but to be fair to him, he is often played as a lone strinker, which really doesn't suit him. Barry Hyles was a bit hit and miss, and also seemed to have temperament problems, picking up silly bookings. I'd love to have him back though. Looked great for his age.
Cliffy: Elvis Hammond hasn't really performed that well this season and has drawn some criticism from some fans, but in the game against Swindon on Tuesday he showed what he can do with two well taken goals. Barry Hayles did well when he was here on loan for us; he put in some good performances and scored a few goals. We would have liked to have kept him here but that wasn't possible. We didn't see much of Lathaniel Rowe-Turner while he was here and Jonny Hayes didn't really perform for us. James Wesolowski did very well here when he was on loan; he was popular with the fans until he unfortunately broke his ankle. We tried to sign him but Dundee United came in for him and we couldn't compete with them.
9) What are your realistic hopes for the future?
Vanky: Survival in the football league, financial stability and a top half finish in League Two next season. Not too much to ask?
Cliffy: To gain financial stability in order for the club to re-build and be stronger for next season. It looks likely that we will be in League Two next season but we wont give up. If we are relegated this season we will be looking to build a strong, competitive team in order to compete next year and hopefully it wont be long before we are back in League One.
10) Finally, match prediction?
Vanky: I'll go with heart, not head and go with 1-1. I have a sneaking feeling I'll be wrong!
Cliffy: I just hope that we give you a very good game at the Walkers Stadium. My heart says 1-1 but my head says 2-0 to Leicester.
Big thanks to both for their time.