Ahead of Notts County's opening fixture of the 2017/18 League Two season, against Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena, Pride of Nottingham spoke to Sky Blues fan George Baker (Twitter: @georgedbaker_) to get an insight on the opposition.
About George: I'm 19 years old and have been supporting the Sky Blues since I was about 6. My Dad, who happens to be the chairman of the Sky Blue Trust nowadays, took me to my first game at Highfield Road in a game against Birmingham which we drew 1-1 I believe and I've been hooked ever since. I would say I would have a genuine love for the club and I think I know that since they've broken my hear so many times over the last few years!
What was your initial reaction to the fixtures release, and are you happy with the opening fixture?
Seeing the fixture list for the first time was a bit of a reality check to be honest with you. When I first started supporting the team, we were a mid-table Championship side who had previously had 35 years in the top flight up until 2001. And now, we're in the fourth tier and playing the likes of Forest Green, Mansfield Town and Lincoln City. I don't mean any offence to those teams mentioned but it just highlights our fall from grace. As for our opening fixture against Notts County, I think it's a tough first game for sure. I fully expect them to be challenging for the play-offs at the very least so Saturday's game may provide an indication of where the two sides will end up come the end of the season. It would have been nice to have been eased into League Two with a slightly easier opponent but it may be a positive to chalk off a game against one of our rivals this season.
After last season's disappointment, how do you think Coventry City will adapt to life in League Two and what have you made of your pre-season?
After last year's relegation we've been quick in clearing out a lot of the deadwood and replacing it with a fair bit of quality. I must admit I think we have a better team now than we did in League One. I think we have the right manager this year though and Mark Robins appears to have built a squad to withstand the rough and tumble of League Two. I think we may take a short while to adapt, not just to the League but as a team as nine new faces are being bedded into the squad with a few more expected but come September/October that's when we'll really get the ball rolling. As for pre-season, it's been a mixed bag. We've had a few decent results and one or two uninspiring performances but I don't look to much into pre-season. I'll be making my first full judgement this weekend!
Which three players should Notts County be aware of, and which would you say is your key man and why?
I think all of our danger men are new signings at the club. We'll start off at the back with Jack Grimmer. We've signed him from Fulham after some decent loan spells at Shrewsbury and judging from his first few outings he looks to be a real asset. He is able to bomb up and down the right hand side and is more than capable of beating his man and whipping a cross into the box. With Chris Stokes playing a more defensive left-back role it allows Grimmer push further up the field and provides an welcome option in attack. Our second player to watch out for sits in the middle of the pitch and that would be Peter Vincenti. We somehow managed to prize him away from Rochdale and he's a player who really excites me. Whilst he's the wrong age of 30, I believe he's still got plenty in the tank. We are likely to deploy him on the left of an attacking three and standing at 6 foot 5, he'll be real threat at the back post from Grimmer's deliveries. Our final player to watch in my opinion is Marc McNulty, who I believe will challenge for not only club top scorer but also the league as a whole. He's scored three in pre-season which yes were all from the penalty spot but he's shown to a be a real threat. He tends to play in the number ten role so picks up space in between the midfield and defence and will likely be playing off knock downs and link up play with Stuart Beavon, who is another player to arguably watch out for.
Do you have any memories of Notts County over the years? If so, please share a couple of your favourite memories.
I'm not sure I have too many memories of Notts County if I'm honest, since I've supported Coventry we haven't played on too many occasions - and when we have we tend to lose! I remember Jack Grealish tearing us apart a few seasons ago at your place!
Both clubs have experienced somewhat turbulent times due to ownership, how do you feel about Otium Entertainment Group (SISU) and would having a good League Two season put things right?
I like many want rid of SISU. They are nothing but a cancer to this club and until they leave we will not move forward. If we were to have a good season and get promoted then of course, that would be fantastic but it wouldn't solve our ownership problems. We still lack investment on the pitch. We have another ongoing court case against our landlords, our rent agreement ends at the end of this season, as does our academy's stay at their usual facility. A promotion would not fix the mess we are in. It may help, but we really are a shambles. There is talk of a takeover and that is the only way we can move forward. Until we have new owners, I don't believe that any form of success can rectify or put right what SISU have done wrong.
What do you think the score will be?
It's a hard one to call as both teams will be looking to make a statement early on. I think there will be goals though. I'll go for a 2-2 draw, an entertaining draw that is. McNulty and Willis scoring for us.