Who Are Ya? - Cambridge United
Who Do You Support?
How Long Have You Supported Them?
My first game was in December 1990 at home to your neighbours Grimsby Town. I was six years old and we were en route to the Third Division title. Our side of the time was the best we've had during my lifetime and we achieved two straight promotions, two FA Cup quarter finals and narrowly missed out on promotion to the inaugural Premier League. This was in the days of Dion Dublin and your very own John Beck. The last 20 years have been just slightly less successful....!
Last Season's League Finish?
A disappointing 14th after plenty of pre-season hype.
What Do You Think Of Your Manager?
Richard Money has an excellent track record wherever he has been. He's been with us for just under a year and did a good job last season of saving cash to pump in to this term. The thing I like about him is he seems to understand the concept of "long-termism" - something which a few of our prior managers and directors didn't, hence why we are still in this division.
Hopes/Expectations This Season?
Many of us say that any season we don't get promoted from here feels like a relegation. Therefore, anything less than promotion will again be a disappointment, but that's more down to the fact this is now our ninth season down here.
Realistically we have a good budget but it's not anywhere near the likes of Forest Green, Luton and one or two others. A play-off spot should be achievable and anything less would be frustrating.
One(s) To Watch?
As has been well documented, we've made a lot of changes over the summer and, as a result, we're still learning about some players ourselves.
However, some signings have stood out in pre-season and the opening few games, most notably Delano Sam-Yorke, Nathan Arnold and Ryan Donaldson. Sam-Yorke, striker signed from Basingstoke, is something of a handful for defenders, while Arnold and Donaldson are more wingers/attacking midfielders who join attacks from deeper positions. Both seem to have good shots on them.
I expect Tom Elliott will be injured on Saturday however Adam Cunnington should play. He had an excellent record last season for Tamworth and leads the line well, again possessing a good shot on him as displayed by his excellent goal in a pre-season friendly win over a Norwich City XI.
You took Sam Smith off our hands last season, which surprised many given that you also paid for him. He doesn't seem to have had too much success with you. Is that down to more injuries, lack of form, no fitting a style of play etc?
I'd say a combination of all of those factors really. He seemed to be struck by many injuries when he first joined us which then impacted his form, resulting in him falling out of favour. Also, he didn't appear to any of us that he could be a 20 goal-a-season striker which meant he was often forced out wide in a front 3 (Elliott or Michael Gash being preferred more centrally), something which didn't suit him.
It's a shame as he seemed like a nice guy, and it's always a shame when players don't get on well, even more so at this level when a transfer fee is involved.
We usually end up taking one of your top earners off your hands a season. We've had Russell, Platt and Garner (along with Clare training with us for a bit). Who can we expect to see join us this season?!
No one hopefully! In this division, it isn't uncommon for there to be a little bit of a difference between the squads which begin and end a season.
Each of the three players you mention had different reasons for leaving us - Russell left when we trimmed our budget, Platt left as he fell out of favour after a pretty horrible injury when he first joined us and Garner was a signing who wasn't selected early on in the season and found himself slipping down the pecking order. The management's philosophy is not to keep mid-to-top earners at the club if they aren't playing.
Since we've been in the Conference, Cambridge seem to have been a team that, on paper, have built a decent squad, underperformed and then come January get rid of a load of players and start again. Is this just a coincidence, or the 'Cambridge way'?
Obviously it's not an ideal way to run a club but I understand the board's reasoning. The January "fire sale" has occurred simply to save funds for the following season. I don't recall this happening every season since you've been in the Conference with us but last season was pretty drastic so I can understand the pretence.
In the two seasons when we reached the play-offs, we had settled squads throughout. In every other season, our squad has been very unsettled as managers have tried to "fix" the failings or have tried to limit the damage to our future. It's quite clear to me which approach works - continuity is an undervalued quality in my opinion, it often gets forgotten as clubs want immediate success. I just hope the wholesale changes we made in the summer are the only major changes we make this season. Tweaking the squad with one of two new signings during a season is fine, just revamping the squad all the time doesn't work in my opinion.
Richard Money gave an interesting interview after our 0-0 draw last year where he quite simply said he picked the tallest XI players he had. Does he always come out with things like that? He doesn't seem a particularly media friendly manager.
When the club appointed Money, I remember fans of his previous clubs, Walsall and Luton, mentioning that his interviews are often on the bizarre side and I can definitely see where they were coming from. I think Cambridge fans have now accepted that you have to take his interviews with a massive pinch of salt. My interpretation is that he is often making comments indirectly at his players, board of directors, fans of the club or even the opposition. The comment regarding tall players was a strange one which I think baffled us as much as it baffled Lincoln fans!
Top Five Predictions?
1. Forest Green
Bottom Four Predictions?
Thoughts on Lincoln City?
When you were relegated, my thought was "for Christ sake, not another 'league club' - there's enough of us stuck down here already!" The last two seasons have obviously been tough for Lincoln fans but the club seem to be making good steps forward under Simpson's management. Whether Lincoln will have enough to mount a play-off challenge this season, I'm not so sure, but there's definitely a little more cause for optimism this time round compared to your last few seasons.
I'm going to be bold and back us to win 2-0. I'll get my excuses in now by adding a comment that we are struggling with injuries, particularly in defence, so my bold prediction may be very misguided.
Random Fact About Your Club?
Richard Money had a reasonable playing career as a defender, culminating in a spell at Liverpool where he played in the second leg of their 1981 European Cup semi-final and was an unused substitute in their final win over Real Madrid.