The highlight of Notts County’s preparations for the new season happens tomorrow at Meadow Lane with the visit of Premier League Wolves to Meadow Lane.
What have the last 12 months been like you as a Wolves fan? Have you been happy with the club’s dealings in the Summer?
I think you’d call it a ‘rollercoaster ride’ being a Wolves fan over the last year. It was a monumentally difficult season, which for long periods looked like it would end in relegation. But despite losing to many of the sides around us, we scored some real upsets, beating Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool to balance things out.
It was fitting that the season went right to the wire and I’ll never forget being in the crowd as we secured our Premier League status on Survival Sunday with a dramatic late goal. It’s moments like that we all remember why this is the greatest sport in the world.
Over the summer we’ve made two significant additions, signing midfielder Jamie O’Hara from Spurs for £5 million and paying a similar amount to get Roger Johnson from Blues. Both of those players will improve us and hopefully see Wolves do a little better than last season. Most fans are satisfied with our business but a new left-back would make everyone happy.
How are expectations of the season ahead of you?
Like every club, the fans here all have very different expectations. But personally, I’m just hoping we survive, albeit a little more comfortably than last season and do well in one of the cup competitions. We’re long overdue a cup-run and a trip to Wembley would be lovely.
Which of your players should Notts be wary of in their friendly game?
Well, it depends who plays really. We’ve got a few niggling injuries and Mick always picks different teams for these friendlies so it’s difficult to know who’ll take to the field.
Assuming everyone gets a game, Kevin Doyle is a class act in every way imaginable. He’s been linked with Arsenal over the summer and that’s no surprise to me. If you saw this guy play week-in, week-out you’d immediately appreciate just how good he is.
Matt Jarvis obviously got into the England team last season and his pace and trickery is always a threat. But in truth, I’m pretty satisfied with the squad we’ve got right now so I could just as easily name the likes of Fletcher, Milijas, Guedioura, O’Hara and Hammill as players to look out for. It’s a good time to be a Wolves fan right now.
And then, who’s the weakest link? Anyone you think might struggle through the afternoon?
Not really. As I mentioned above, I feel good about the squad we have. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not world beaters, but I have a lot of faith in the players.
I suppose there will no doubt be some fringe players getting a game though. The likes of Andy Keogh and Sam Vokes, who’ve done very well for us int he past are probably coming to the end of their time at the club.
In addition to them, a few youth players will be given a run-out and they could struggle.
Similarly, how much do you know about Notts? Who would you consider the danger men and who are you not too concerned about?
Admittedly I know more about what’s been happening off the field at Notts County than on it.
The whole Sven-saga, the signing and departure of Sol Campbell and your eventual promotion from League Two was something I followed keenly.
You struggled last season is memory serves, but did enough to stay afloat in League One. I suppose that’s got to be considered good progress.
Talking about individuals is a little bit more difficult, but I know Lee Hughes and Craig Westcarr scored a few for you last season.
Hughes loves playing against Wolves going back to his days at West Brom and is always a threat. Definitely a natural goalscorer.
I see you’ve also got Jon Harley there, a player I’ve always thought looked tidy at full-back. He’s getting on a bit now but still looks about 10 years old. How does he do it?
You’ve managed a couple of wins in pre-season and I’ve always believed wins breed confidence so that makes you a more difficult proposition in this match.
Obviously we’ve already locked horns last season in the League Cup. What was your take on that game when you look back?
Sadly, that game was overshadowed by the events that followed the full-time whistle with fans throwing bricks and generally getting acting like idiots. Still, the less said about that the better.
The game itself was appalling for the first hour or so with neither team offering much, but then came to life towards the end.
It looked like you were going to deservedly win it after Hughes put you ahead, but the penalty and sending off changed the game. Once we got level and introduced Doyle and Fletcher from the bench, I felt confident we’d get the win and so it proved.
Finally, a prediction for the afternoon?
Almost impossible to predict.
Obviously we’re the Premier League side so I guess we’re considered the favourites?
But we’re not too good in pre-season (we lost to Crewe in our first game) and Mick will likely ring the changes.
I’ll say score draw – 2-2.
Good luck for the season. I’ll be looking out for your results!