After four pre-season friendlies, eager fans who haven’t been able to make all the games have been asking: how are they doing? So here is a quick assessment of Grays Athletic so far.
Even though over 30 players have appeared on the park, you are starting to get a feel for the shape of things.
There is no doubt that there is class in abundance with Kenny Davis and Michael Haswell at right back and left back respectively. The challenge is in the middle of defence. The Bradley Thomas/Jay Lovett combo looked assured at West Ham. A little less so against the Met but that might have been due to fatigue. At this point that seems like a promising back four that may and/or should be given time to bed in.
Goalkeeper is still a doubt. Nicholls seems to mistake shouting for ability. Shouting is all very well but don’t do that “Not my fault its yours” when you commit two howlers as against Margate. Sort of undermines your argument.
Bertie Brayley and Jamie Slabber look promising up front. Slabber’s chip to Brayley for the first goal on Saturday was outstanding. These two could be an experenced and potent threat with someone such as Reggie Savage pressing for a place on the bench.
Midfield is a bit more complicated: Nearly all the midfielders seem to flatter to deceive. Vernazza looks the part but has made a couple of howlers esp being dispossessed against the Met that betrays a clue to why a former Gunner is scratching around the Blue Square Premier. On the other hand, Tommy Black looks trimmer and stilll oozing class. He just needs a good water carrier. You would like to think that Allan McLeod could do the job but one suspects that he doesn’t quite have the engine he should have.
As for Serge Mokofo. Enigmatic. His head goes down very quickly but he certainly reacted to Craig Edwards’s man management at half time against Margate and simply walked through Terry Yorath’s men.
Is this the nucleus of a good team or a team capable of survival? Difficult to know. How many other cash strapped teams will line up on August 8th? Indeed how many teams will line up on August 8th? Grays opponents on the opening day of the season, Chester, are having their own set of challenges.
The morale looks good or maybe they are all being too polite at the moment. From the management to the players there seems to be a que sera sera philosophy. That is the nature of recession football.