You win one league and you set up an expectation… Paul Sheerin has managed Arbroath from a standing start to their very first Championship in his very first job as a manager. He also did it with some style. As you look round the squads that have been assembled for this coming season Sheerin despite his alleged inexperience has assembled a relatively decent squad. Some of the fans are quite excited – it is safe to say. In fact it is safe to say that some of them expect Sheerin to emulate Gary Bollan and get them into the First Division. If not straight up the play offs would be fine of course. It’s just ridiculous after all last year’s Division Three clubs who got promoted – what happened to them? Livingston won the Division and er… Forfar made it to the First Division play offs…!
Released from their contracts or not offered new deals and currently without clubs include David Dimilta, Jordyn Sheerin, David McGowan, Darren Thomson, Kevin McMullan, Danny Griffin and Jay Shields. Adam Strachan has found himself at Kettering Town, Ross Chisholm at Dundee and Alan Rattray is at Peterhead. Losing so many might panic some but not Sheerin.
All announced pre season friendlies are now over and Arbroath recorded a 2-0 loss against St Johnstone, a 2-1 win against Raith Rovers and a 4-1 win against Keith. Added to winning the league last year is now new expectations!
At present the goalkeeper he has on the books is Darren Hill. Former Dumbarton keeper, Michael White played against St Johnstone and has impressed a few of the fans. Getting the right back up may be key if there are injuries or suspensions during the course of a season. No doubt one will be found and a deal made for a reliable number 2.
In defence Sheerin has ex Cowdenbeath Mark Baxter alongside Kieran McAnespie, Stuart Malcolm, Lee Sibanda who resigned and former Queensland Fury player, Josh Busch. Busch has just got international clearance to come to the Lichties. The Australian has lit up the notice boards. It’s a decent defence squad from which to pick for the season. Looking for a contract, having played as trialists have been Graham Girvan, Joe Prince-Wright and Harry MacGregor.
In the middle of the park, Paul Sheerin will be joined by Keith Gibson, youngster Michael McIlvray, Josh Falkingham as well as the highly experienced Brian Kerr. This looks like a very decent midfield to go along with that defence so there may be every reason to suppose that Arbroath will be hard to break down. Also looking for a deal and in as trialists – Brendan Crozier and Craig McLeish.
Up front the big news was Gavin Swankie resigning at Gayfield. With Jordan Elfverson, Steven Doris and others being tried out as back up they have to hope that Swankie can repay them with goals as they may be a bit light here. If suspensions/injuries start to affect the team then that defence and midfield might be called upon to find a big enough bus to park on the edge of the penalty box.
Mind you their pre season games suggest they will score. Their first competitive fixture will be at home to Dundee in the Ramsden’s Cup followed by an away fixture to Livingston in the Scottish Communities Cup. Losing both to First Division opposition would be no disgrace and if the target is to be long stayers in the league might benefit the club long-term.
The major game for them is their opening fixture in the League at home to Albion Rovers. Against their fellow promoted club temperatures will be taken and they ought to come away with a win. Anything less would not define the season but the Second Division has the look of a close league. Clubs wanting to be in the top half will need to have a decent start. Sheerin has certainly started the process well. One worry might well be – if he starts again this season will another club come in and tempt him away – notwithstanding his new extended contract.