Since young Shaquille Hunter's signing of his first professional contract, it's been very quiet at the Memorial Stadium. However that is likely to change very soon with pre-season training just 11 days away and Mark McGhee will be hoping to have most of his signings wrapped up in time for them to participate. Strikers, midfielders and central defenders are on the list to strengthen the squad and McGhee is confident that we can mount a real push for promotion if we can add quality down the spine of the team. Nick Higgs is also anticipating an exciting campaign and he feels we have the setup in place to push on next season, something that fills me with real confidence.
With the management and chairman positive of success next April, how are we viewed currently by outsiders and other clubs in League Two?
Well the bookies have had us among the genuine contenders for the title since last season ended, with newcomers Fleetwood Town, Rotherham United, Chesterfield and Bradford City also obtaining short odds. The other sides mentioned have been strengthening astutely so far, with money appearing no object for the first two in particular. Championship target man Jon Parkin has arrived at Fleetwood, alongside Colchester's top scorer Steven Gillsepie, signalling the intent of the 2012 Conference winners, whilst Rotherham have brought in players such as Michael O'Connor, Lionel Ainsworth and Kayode Odejayi in a bid to achieve success. Rovers may not have been active in the transfer market just yet but the quality out-of-contract players won't officially be Bosman's until July 1st in a week's time, so there's no need to be worried at the moment. I've said it for a few weeks but I'm certain we'll have incoming movement over the next few days.
But despite our lack of recruitment, opposition managers are already tipping us to be a major force next season. League Two's most detested manager Steve Evans, who occupies the Rotherham hot-seat, has already cited who he feels will challenge his new look Millers next year. Talking to the club's official website, he was asked who in the league will be promotion contenders and replied; 'From a distance I would say Northampton Town, certainly Bristol Rovers, Bradford City and Wycombe Wanderers. I would be happy to answer this question a few days before the start of the season as all the squads have not been finalised yet.' So one of the (very) big players in the division has begun touting us to compete at the top and we've not signed anybody yet. That's testament to the quality of Mark McGhee, Shaun North and the ambition the club has shown since his appointment in January. If the players he's targeted buy in to the same beliefs, we'll be more than ready for Ipswich Town and Oxford United in mid-August.
|The tax-evading Steve Evans tips Rovers to challenge|
It's difficult to predict right now with only a half-complete squad and I will be asking the same question again nearer the time, but right now, what is your gut instinct about next season's prospects. Do you believe McGhee is the man to guide us up, or do you fear a fruitless campaign yet again?
Using the poll to the right cast your vote to present your thoughts on the matter. Voting will be open for around a week so show other Rovers fans what you think McGhee's first full season will hold for us. Use the comment box below to explain in detail how you think we'll do and what work needs to be done over the summer.
We can use the results to compare with our views in early August when I repeat the poll, and see if opinions have changed for the better or worse!
Up the Gas.