York City Season Preview

yorkThe Football Lab interviewed York City fan Lewis Ross-Robson, who shares his views ahead of the new season.

York City drew more games than any other side in League Two last season, and their -5 goal difference was more befitting of a midtable team than one fearing the drop. Should you have finished higher than 18th?

If I’m honest no we shouldn’t have been have been higher than 18th. We were very poor for a lot of the season but we did show promising signs towards the end.

York have already faced 3 Championship teams in pre-season, and have come away with a respectable 2 draws and 1 defeat. Are you pleased that the club have arranged a lot of friendlies against higher opposition, rather than the local non-league sides?

Yes I am. However, I do think it’s good that we play some lower oppositions so that we can give younger players a chance and get a sense of playing football again and working on attacking. But it’s important that people don’t get carried away with drawing or beating higher oppositions as there players are also just returning back to football after their break and they will most likely be player weaker teams.

Veteran goalkeeper Michael Ingham has signed a new 1 year deal with the club, while Scott Flinders has joined from Hartlepool. Who do you think will be the first choice goalkeeper?

Flinders I think. Wilcox doesn’t seem the sort of person to sign such a well known and top quality goalkeeper and planning on not playing him in the first few games of the season. However, Ingham has really showed up for City in recent seasons when he has been called up.

Defender George Swan was captain of the Manchester City Under-18s team, but is yet to make a professional appearance. Can Russ Wilcox get the best out of him?

If he puts him to the right tests in training and gives him more match experience then yes. But at the moment I think he will be remaining in the bench or in the reserves.

Your results last season improved when you switched to a 3-at-the-back system, with Keith Lowe, John McCombe and Dave Winfield in defence. Is this the way forward for York?

Personally I think yes. Wilcox has been playing it in our friendlies and our defence does seem very solid. So yes, I think if we carry on playing this formation our season will be a lot better than the last.

New signing Eddie Nolan has played under Wilcox before, helping his Scunthorpe side to promotion from League Two in the 13/14 season. What can he offer the side?

From what I’ve seen he hasn’t really done anything special. However, if he gains confidence and remains co sister then I think Wilcox will introduce him a lot more into the side.

Josh Carson looks a talented winger. However, will he be able to stay fit for a whole season? And if he is, where will he fit in a wingback system?

At the end of last season he was playing in wing back a lot. But his fitness and pace was not what it was at all. He has suffered a few injuries since being at York so it will be interesting to see if he does keep fit.

Russ Penn has been arguably one of the best midfield enforcers in League Two over the last few years. Have you been pleased with his performances?

Definitely. He rarely fails to make a challenge when he attempts one. He shows real passion and a lot of the older supporters have described his playing style as being very old fashioned and – in a good way!

The likes of Penn, Luke Summerfield and now new signing James Berrett are all very hardworking players. Do you think your midfield will have an industrious feel this season?

It depends really. I’ve not seen much from Berrett in pre season so far but he will hopefully warm to the club and start performing well soon. He seems solid and consistent but is yet to make any real impact. As for Penn and Summerfield they are both hardworking players. They both charge down the ball and really challenge for it, but don’t show much quality. Never the less, they often do the job.

Wes Fletcher has left the club, having scored just 4 goals since September, while Vadaine Oliver has signed from Crewe Alexandra. How would you assess your current forward options?

Fletcher’s ego definetely got the better of him last season. He had a great season in 2013/14 but you can’t expect to score such a small amount of goals and still be a hero! As for Oliver he has been really good so far and has been earning his place. But apart from him and maybe Hyde I don’t see much quality.

Assistant manager Steve Torpey, a striker in his playing career, has left after 6 and a half year stay at Bootham Crescent. Do you think some of the attacking players might benefit from a change in the coaching setup?

To be honest, it’s not so much the coaching it’s more the experience and the quality that the players have that are in the club. But yes, I do think some of the players would benefit from a more consistent and experienced coaching style.

York City aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the League Two season as a whole? Who do you think will do well? Which teams might struggle?

Portsmouth seem to have made great signings and Cook, obviously with everyone remembering what he did with Chesterfield in 2013/14, is a well recognised and fantastic manager. Also, Oxford seem to be promising and have made good signings in the window so far – the same case with Mansfield. However, I’m very confused to why people are backing newly promoted Bristol Rovers to do so well. I think they seem a solid side and are obviously a big club but I don’t think they will achieve promotion.

Where will you finish?

I think we will finish around mid-table, preferably higher. If Wilcox improves his managerial skills and we make more good signings through out the season I think we could push for play offs, but no more than that. But it will definitely be an improvement from last season.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

The team that takes the neutrals by surprise this season will be York City. They will continue their improvement with a 3-at-the-back system, helped by a solid defence and an industrious midfield. If new strikers Reece Thompson and Vadaine Oliver hit the ground running, York have the core ingredients of a side that can win promotion. 3rd

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