TEAM PREVIEW: Cambridge United – Mick Bennett wants to see more youth players

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A difficult league season but the highlight of a trip to Manchester United in the FA Cup, it was an odd season for manager Richard Money. But the club have already been busy strengthening for the new campaign so the club can push on and come higher than 19th this time around.

Last Season: League Two (19th)

Manager: Richard Money

 

Squad

GKs: Chris Dunn, Sam Beasant
DFs: Greg Taylor, Josh Coulson, Leon Legge, Mark Roberts, Elliot Omozusi
MFs: Ryan Donaldson, Harrison Dunk, Liam Hughes, Gearoid Morrissey, Keith Keane, Luke Berry
FWs: Jordan Slew, Robbie Simpson, Rory Gaffney, James Akintunde, Jordan Chiedozie, Barry Corr, Daniel Carr

 

Transfers

In: Barry Corr (Southend United), Keith Keane (Preston North End), Leon Legge (Gillingham), Elliot Omozusi (Leyton Orient), Mark Roberts (Fleetwood Town), Luke Berry (Barnsley), Daniel Carr (Huddersfield Town), Sam Beasant (Stevenage)

Out: Nathan Arnold (Grimsby Town), Mitch Austin (Central Coast Mariners), Tom Champion (Barnet), Ryan Bird (Released), Luke Chadwick (Released), Tom Elliott (AFC Wimbledon), Matteo Lanzoni (Released), Ian Miller (Released), Michael Nelson (Released), Richard Tait (Grimsby Town), Bobby-Joe Taylor (Maidstone United), Johnny Hunt (Chester), Will Norris (Braintree Town – Loan)

 

First Six: Newport County (H), Carlisle United (A), AFC Wimbledon (A), Crawley Town (H), Barnet (A), Luton Town (H)

Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Dunn – Omozusi, Taylor, Roberts, Coulson – Donaldson, Keane, Berry, Dunk, Slew – Simpson

 

A word from…Mick Bennett

On the emotional rollercoaster To be honest when I signed for the club they were quite ambitious, it was a young side that had quite a bit of success in previous years, finishing near the top of the old second division.

But there was a big change then and people like John Docherty had left, I thought they had good potential with the players there but obviously it didn’t go that way. I have read a few articles over the years from former players, one was quite detrimental to the club at the time but I don’t think it was as simple as that, I just don’t think the mixture was right. Some experienced players were injured and it was the manager’s first job, maybe they’d just overachieved for a couple of years.

It was all new to the manager and we ended up getting relegated which wasn’t expected.

On football league status It’s massive. I keep track of Cambridge’s results, it’s a nice little club with a great community, they’ve developed the stadium but they’ll always struggle crowds down there but like any team they have to compete at the highest level possible.

Wimbledon and Wigan have proved that down the years, but its little steps rather than big strides and you just have to get that stability and become consistent. It’s great too if you can get a cup run like they did last year, that was a huge bonus to the club to play against Manchester United.

On recruitment this season I’m not up to speed with the details but players at that level with that experience is important. I think they’ve got a good youth policy at the club and it’s important to get the right blend. Experience is important but having those young players coming through is crucial.

If you have to sell them on eventually then so be it but it’s about getting the right balance at the time. I work with youth now so I know how important that can be, try and get two or three players on the fringe every season and give them games, it can only be good for the club.

On Richard Money Managers now aren’t given the support they should be, you can’t set a foundation if you’ll only be there one or two seasons but he’s shown his worth by getting them back in the football league so I think he deserves that chance to show how far he can take them.

He’s popular there so it’s important the club back him and give him that opportunity rather than thinking we’re not moving quick enough and we need someone knew. He’s a former player, he knows the game inside out.

On Manchester United motivation That will have been a huge motivation when you play against bigger clubs, going back to my own time, cup draws were massive. It didn’t matter if it was the FA Cup or the Milk Cup, you always wanted that extra incentive to push on and it’s very important for a club like Cambridge.

Promotion is the priority for progression but it doesn’t get any bigger than United coming down to your ground so I’m sure they’d be more than happy if the players get to face a Chelsea, a Liverpool or a United again this season. The financial rewards are huge for the club too as well the individual players.

 

The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Cambridge are building a strong squad and have a good manager to guide them forward this season. A play-off push might not be out of the question if they can get off to a good start.

Key Player: Mark Roberts – Given the lack of depth in the current Cambridge defence, an experienced figure like Roberts could and should be key in League Two next season.

One to Watch: Daniel Carr – The young striker arrived at Huddersfeld Town with plenty of promise after an exciting spell in the non-league with Dulwich Hamlet. Now in League Two, the striker may find a level in which he can push on and surprise his new supporters.

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