Lee Mansell warns that it's going to be tough
After eight years at Torquay and one week at Bristol Rovers, midfielder Lee Mansell says that things are going really well for him at his new club.
“It’s been a very tough first week of pre-season training but I‘m pleased with how it’s gone and feel I’ve settled in really well, though there are few characters I’ve had to get used to!
“At Torquay the pre-season training was a little bit different. So far here, it has just been hard work! Nevertheless it’s been enjoyable and we have had the footballs out as well as doing a great deal of running.
“You always know that the pre-season consists of a lot of hard graft and once the first week is over and the stiffness goes out of your legs and the tiredness from your muscles, things always get easier.
“Nevertheless I’m looking forward to when the games start and we can stop all this running!”
Moving to a new club, especially after spending so long elsewhere isn’t always easy, but he seems to have adapted well to his new surroundings.
“Joining Rovers was a brilliant move for me. It’s a clean slate, a new challenge, and every other cliché you can think of!
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time, especially about playing in front of a new set of supporters who aren’t familiar with the way I play. I know I have to impress them and my new team mates but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I didn’t know any of the players here before I arrived, though I have, of course, played against many of them in the past.”
That includes some of last season’s Rovers squad, of course, as he played, and scored, against Rovers as recently as April of this year.
“I was hoping that wasn’t going to be mentioned! But, yes, I’ve played against Rovers a lot during my career and feel I always did well against them. Now, though, I’m looking forward to playing well and scoring a few goals for them.”
The support the side gets, he says, is crucial.
“All supporters want to see their team win and there needs to be a bond between players and supporters. That’s especially so when we come up against sides who only want to sit behind the ball and many of them will. That’s when we will need our supporters to get behind us because that really will make a difference and give us a lift.”
Darrell Clarke appears to be assembling a squad with a good blend of youth and experience and the bond between the players will be strengthened by next week’s stay at the University of Wales campus where the pre-season programme continues.
As for what we can expect from Conference football he has this to say.
“Quite a few of us have experience of playing at this level and we can be sure there will be times when we face a scrap and the games will be very physical. That’s one reason why we have been working so hard
in pre-season training. Fitness is likely to be a key factor in the season ahead, and will undoubtedly be a telling factor, particularly in the last ten minutes.”
To anyone thinking it’s going to be easy to regain our league status at the first attempt, he has these cautionary words; “Understandably Rovers are a huge club at this level and I’m sure a lot of people will be expecting us to bounce back really quickly.
However you only have to look at how long former league clubs such as Oxford, Luton and Cambridge took to regain their place in the Football League to appreciate how difficult a task it is.
“People would be foolish to think that it’s going to be easy to bounce back straight away, but rest assured we will be doing our best to make it happen.
“What I will say is that it’s going to be a long hard season in what is a very tough league.”