Ahead of this Sunday’s return to league action, we caught up with manager Scott Booth, for his thoughts on pre-season, and our opponents, Southampton.
There have been a lot of new faces and a lot of games in pre-season and Scott gave us the low-down on how it went.
“Pre-season has been really positive and it’s been good to play all our games at the Pan, especially for the new players.
“It gave us some continuity and gets the players used to the environment so from that perspective it’s been really positive for us.
“The games have gone well, all really competitive, and throughout that period of games, we have brought in a number of players week on week.
“Now we’ve got a fairly settled squad that know each other really well, but we’re still looking to do a bit more business with the couple of weeks we’ve got left.”
22/23 was a season of two halves for his side that didn’t end the way we’d have hoped, and Scott knows that this year, consistency will be important.
“My hopes are that we are battling at the top end of the table. We want to be positive about our season, we do know it’s going to be massively tough and competitive.
“I’ve said it before, but I genuinely believe any team beats any team on the right day, all games are 50/50, there won’t be a lot of shocks throughout the season because of that.
“We want to make sure that from our perspective, we are able to consistently compete with each club but keep that consistency throughout the whole campaign.
“I feel like towards the end of last season, we were for one reason or another, unable to do that. That’s where we lost the body of our games, and that dictated heavily on our position in the table.
“We need to maintain the consistency this year, playing good football, competing and looking to win every game.
“You’ll never see us just trying to make things hard for the opposition and looking for draws.”
Scott believes lessons have been learnt in that sense and that they need something a bit different this season.
“The players can be as fit as you can get them but we need that mental aspect of playing in the Championship, that can be hard.
“I think as the season wears on, we need to see if we can learn from that mental aspect, keep it strong, can we keep the players fresh.”
Lastly, he spoke very highly of this Sunday’s opponents but is emphasising the need for good home form.
“Southampton will be a massive test for us; we had them first game last season, 2-0 up at half-time, and then ended up 2-2.
“It’s slightly different squads now but we’d like to learn from that. They’ve signed a number of players and they’re definitely stronger, some excellent players.
“I believe they will be a real force this season but I also feel that we’re at home and we should be making sure we take the game to them and put them under as much pressure as we can to come out with the win.
“We’ve spoken as a group about the importance of being strong at home. When we’re playing at the Pan, we want the fans to have something to shout about, and make sure we challenge for everything.”