With a new season comes renewed optimism and Stornoway United manager Grant Hunter remains infectiously optimistic and determined to lead a United charge up the pile.
United have lost the services of the livewire frontman Lewis Robinson but at a club which has earned a stellar reputation for promoting from within, Hunter is confident there are yet more gems to be plucked from the Goathill production line.
“Euan Macdonald is going to be an unbelievable player and we have others like Kyle Munro who is going to be very good too but it depends how players will gel on the park.”
He continued: “Pre season has been good. Training has been far better this year and it has evolved and things are taking shape. Kenny Macsween has joined us, more juniors to pick from and the guys we have are another year older.”
Hunter reckons last season’s top four of Lochs, Point, West Side and Carloway will once more prove to be too strong for the other four sides but he is hoping to earn United the tag of ‘best of the rest.’
“I think there are two leagues of four really. Lochs, West Side, Point and Carloway should be ahead of the rest,” he explained.
“That leaves Aths, ourselves, Ness and Back as four who will be trying to get ahead of one another. It won’t be easy at all but finishing on top of that group of four has to be the goal for us.
“There are lots of rumours other sides are struggling for players and while we have lost Lewis we can cope as we have a lot more juniors coming through and Kenny is a good player.
“Squad wise we should be a lot healthier than last year.”
Looking at last season’s final league table and it is easy to see why United were rooted to the foot of the pile – propping up the rest.
Conceding a mammoth 50-goals in just 14 league matches showed a defensive fragility which Hunter must address this time around.
The United boss though thinks part of the problem stemmed from players becoming complacent about their place as a regular in the team.
“One of the biggest frustrations and problems we had last year was a core of playes knew without fail they would be starting and playing every week,” he said.
“That’s not good for anyone. This year it shouldn’t be like this and our numbers should be healthier and with these young talented kids on the bench chomping at the bit for a chance it should keep the older guys on their toes and on top of their game to keep them out of the team.”
Scoring just 14 times was also the lowest in the goals for column in the league and losing Robinson won’t aid their fortunes in front of goal either.