D3D4 Exeter City Correspondent Jamie Wyman thinks the Grecians can get over the loss of Ollie Watkins and have another good season…
The heartbreak of a play-off final defeat at Wembley seems an age ago. Here we are four days until the start of the new season; I can’t wait to be back at the Park.
The transfer window has been unusually busy this year for Exeter, losing the football league young player of the year Ollie Watkins to Brentford for a reported £1.8million, Ethan Ampadu has joined Chelsea. Bobby Oljenik joined Mansfield, Joel Grant has joined Plymouth and Jack Stacey went back to Reading to then sign for Luton.
From the departures Ollie is the stand out loss, I wish him all the best at Brentford and will look forward to following his performances and improvement through the season, he was a big player for us scoring 15 goals in the league last term. His creativity and footwork was something seldom seen down in league 2 and it’s nice to hear opposing fans on social media saying “Oh, Exeter have that Ollie Watkins he’s a player”. However I believe we have enough quality in our squad to cope without him, Ruben Reid has a full season under his belt and this pre-season where he’s looking slimmer and sharper. Today we have signed ex Argyle striker Ryan Brunt after his trial with us, who if he can stay fit will be a good signing being able to put the yards in and work hard for us.
Liam McAlinden is such an underrated player, I honestly think he will shine for us this year he has genuine pace and a keen eye for goal, I hope Tisdale gives him plenty of playing time. Lee Holmes can be deadly in league 2 with his pace and crossing ability, hopefully he can have an injury free season, plus youngsters Alex Byrne and Matt Jay. Last but no means least we (at the time of writing) still have David Wheeler. Who has to be one of the best jumpers and headers of the football I’ve seen in a city shirt for a long time, not only his goals 13 in 38 but his support play from midfield and out wide was pivotal in our season, he runs well at defenders and links brilliantly with the forwards, his contract is running out however and could potentially agree terms with another club in January with a view to a free transfer next season, but while we have him I believe he will be vital in any success we have this year.
In terms of players coming in, we have signed Pierce Sweeney after his loan spell with us last season; we welcome back Dean Moxey who has signed after being released from Bolton. I can’t wait to see Moxey back in city colours, he will help strengthen our defence which is where we look vulnerable in my opinion and as said above we have signed Ryan Brunt after a trial period with the club. All three signings so far will definitely strengthen the squad, we may sign Tyler Harvey who is also on trial with us but that will probably be it. Paul Tisdale has said if it comes down to signing a player or playing a youth team player he will rely on youth. City has a great youth set up with players like George Friend, Dean Moxey, Matt Grimes, Ollie Watkins and Ethan Ampadu coming through our ranks. Over pre-season another youngster by the name of Jack Sparkes has shone and I wouldn’t have thought it is long until he gets a call up to the first team being one to watch closely for the future.
Overall I think we will have a good season, our squad is young, talented and I may be biased but one of the best footballing sides in league 2. Yes loosing Ollie was massive, but all City fans knew it was only a matter of time before he moved on, as a team and club we have lost big players in the past, the squad left know its next man up, can you come in a fill the position left? Youth will always get their chance at Exeter. Play-offs should be a minimum expectation, barring injuries but it is unrealistic to expect our away from to be as good, one of the best in the country last season. Our home form needs to improve significantly to counter this, I watched City home and away and it was like watching two different teams, they were far more flowing and attacking away from home. If they can replicate that at St James Park then we’re in for a good season..
Promotion- Swindon, Luton, Carlisle
Play-offs- Mansfield, Exeter, Lincoln, Colchester
Relegation- Morecambe, Newport
Words Jamie Wyman