The build-up to the start of the Npower Football League season on the weekend of August 6 steps up a notch over the next few days, as clubs move from the hard graft of the training ground, to the fine tuning on the pitch as the pre-season friendlies begin in earnest.
The preparation for teams in the three divisions of the Football League will vary from friendlies against local non-league sides, to tours both home and abroad, with the odd glamour friendly against Premier League or even continental opposition thrown in. Most fans’ interests at this point of the summer though still relate to the transfer market, with the hopes and fears of supporters up and down the land for success over the next 10 months rising with each addition to the squad, or falling with each exit of a terrace favourite.
Up until the end of the transfer window all the clubs in the Football League will be looking to strengthen their hands as they seek the extra spark to improve on the season before. It is not just on the field that clubs are looking to strengthen, as clubs re-jig their coaching staff with the ongoing whirl of the managerial merry-go round. On the south coast, Portsmouth unveiled Stuart Gray as their new first-team coach. The former Southampton and Northampton Town boss joins Steve Cotterill’s backroom staff as a replacement for Ian Woan, who has moved to join Sean Dyche, the new Watford manager at Vicarage Road.
Gray joins the club from Burnley, where he had a spell as caretaker boss last season, and Cotterill believes that he will be a good addition to the club telling BBC
Pompey started their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 win over non-league Havant and Waterloovile, with new signing Luke Varney on the score sheet along with Joel Ward, Hayden Mullins and Dave Kitson. One face leaving Portsmouth is midfielder Michael Brown. The 34-year-old midfielder, who was out of contract at Fratton Park has moved back north and signed a one-year deal with Leeds United.
Brown returns to Yorkshire seven years after leaving Sheffield United to join Tottenham Hotspur, and after additional spells at Fulham and Wigan Athletic. Leeds boss Simon Grayson admitted his delight at capturing a long-term target, telling the club’s official website: “He is a player that I have long been interested in and I’m glad we’ve been able to sort things out for him to come here. He has experience and know-how, and he has played at the highest level. He fits the bill in terms of the quality of player I was looking to bring in and he will be a great addition to the squad.”