Opening Day in the Wessex Premier is tomorrow, so let's take a look at our squad's most important players.
Jamie Overson (age 26): Jamie organizes his defense well and has the mental toughness I like to see in a goalkeeper. He tends to have trouble deciding when to come off his line to challenge an attacker.
Paul Watson (age 23): Left back Paul is fit and athletic, and offers a bit of an attacking threat. He'll be a fixture in the first eleven.
Charlie Webb (age 37): Charlie's knowledge of the game should enable him to remain effective despite having lost most of his pace. He's a regular at right back, and he's also my assistant manager.
Darren Almond (age 21): Darren is perhaps our best player. He is brave, tough, and fast. He's not great in the air, but he's still a very good center back for this level.
Mark Wetherald (age 25): A consummate professional, Mark can play either left or center back. He'll team with Almond in the middle, although he isn't much of an aerial presence, either.
Jack Taylor (age 25): Versatile Jack can play anywhere in the back line or in the midfield. He's listed here because he's the closest thing I have to an imposing center half.
Joe Dyson (age 16): Joe is our most promising young defender, with an especially good set of mental attributes.
Joe Clarke (age 18): Joe is an exciting young wide man with bags of pace. He has little interest in tracking back, however, and he'll need to pay attention to that deficiency if he wants to lock down a starting spot on the left wing.
Martin Parkin (age 31): Club captain Martin is big and fast, and he races up the wing like a freight train. He can play on both sides of the pitch, but he prefers the right. He'll start, regardless.
Paul Jones (age 21): Paul has the makings of a midfield destroyer, with a non-stop motor and a willingness to get stuck in. He also possesses the skill to contribute to the offense. He'll start in the middle of our 4-4-2 formation.
Danny Hutton (age 23): Faster and more offensively skilled than Jones, Danny will be the other half of our central midfield pairing. His work rate and determination are both outstanding.
Mark Wallace (age 16): Mark isn't ready for the first team yet, but his pace, determination, and ability to play all across the midfield make him one of our best youth prospects.
Adam Hamilton (age 21): Adam has the speed to bedevil opposing defenders, and he plays with flair and determination. He'll fill the poacher role in my strike partnership.
James Hawes (age 30): My staff don't rate James highly, but I like his size, strength, and well-rounded game. I'll use him as a target man, and he'll be a regular presence on the team sheet.
Alan Barrett (age 25): The most athletic of our forwards, I envision Alan as a dynamic substitute whose pace will be difficult for tiring opponents to contain. He's a good footsoldier who doesn't mind being a backup.
Outlook: We're one of three teams with 2000-1 odds of winning the league, and most of the pundits think we're in for a relegation battle. I think we're a little better than that. We have a team full of lads who will put in a shift. I wouldn't be surprised to see us comfortably above the drop by spring.
Best-case scenario: Led by Almond, who makes the league's First Eleven, our athletic defenders keep us tight in the back. Parkin is too much for our opponents to handle, and Jones and Hutton boss the midfield. Hamilton scores 20 goals, firing us to a solid mid-table finish.
Worst-case scenario: Our defenders are repeatedly bullied by physical opponents, and I can't find a big bloke to come in and restore order. Father Time catches up to Webb, and Parkin loses a step, too. Jones and/or Hutton gets hurt and never finds his game, and Hawes is even worse than our backroom staff think he is. I'm sacked in January, and my replacement can't save the Bluebirds from relegation.