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Forget play-offs it’s all about survival
1:00pm Thursday 15th August 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
HOW will Worcester City fare this season?
It is a question I have been asked by plenty of people in recent weeks and one to which my answer has been slightly guarded.
Mainly because I run the risk of being accused of negativity towards a club who are trying their utmost to make the most of a bad situation — no home, not much money and no sign of a return to Worcester in the immediate future.
Let’s not forget that the club nearly folded under a pile of apathy at the end of last season before news broke of the St Modwen deal being scrapped.
That City have even made it this far following the closure of St George’s Lane is reason enough for celebration.
However, it all adds up to a probable season of struggle ahead in what is arguably the most important chapter in the club’s history.
There is plenty of optimism centred around a fresh City start but everyone is united in one aim at Aggborough — survival.
Keeping the club both financially afloat and within the Conference structure while away from Worcester are the top priorities.
Despite season ticket sales being up, officials are realistic and expect attendances will be lower than last term.
With that in mind, there needs to be an element of perspective here too.
Forget challenging for the play-offs, City would almost certainly accept a fourth-from-bottom finish.
For a club that has one of the lowest budgets at this level, that would be deemed a success, and anything on top of that a welcome bonus.
Of course, they will aspire for much better but staying up is paramount.
Manager Carl Heeley knows the challenge ahead and is ready to meet it head-on with a much-revamped squad.
Only time will tell whether it is stronger or weaker but it is certainly younger.
With 37-year-old defender Stuart Whitehead virtually retired, Tom Thorley and Danny Glover are now the senior members of the team, and they are 14 years his junior.
Although Shabir Khan, Ashley Walker and Sam Smith are all older, the bulk of what experience City possess lies with these two.
There is no obvious player to carry the captain’s armband.
But in Heeley, assistant Matt Gardiner and coach John Snape they have a management trio who have been there, done it and got the T-shirt. Their experience will be invaluable.
By virtue of having young players, City are likely to be inconsistent. Consequently, their league position will fluctuate. But, for what it’s worth, I think they will have enough to steer clear of the bottom three.
It will be tough — and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise.
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