Andy Scott may admit that his new Aldershot Town squad are something of a blank canvas, but as the Shots prepare to face Chelsea’s exciting Under-21 side on Friday night, he has already created a thrilling blueprint of his own.
The first match on the new Electrical Services Stadium pitch – funded by Chelsea and appropriately featuring some of their brightest young stars – will be Scott’s first chance to put his vision into practice.
“We’ve not got any preconceived ideas about how we’re going to play,” Scott began.
“We’ll look at the players that we’ve got and how they gel with each other. There are several ways that we can manoeuvre things around.”
Yet, with a few key qualities, Scott hints at what Shots fans can look forward to when they kick-off the Conference Premier season against Altrincham on August 9.
And, with the Shots’ Hampshire derby at Eastleigh moved to Thursday August 14 for live broadcast on BT Sport, it is a tough, high-profile start to the campaign.
“We want to be a big side who can compete but also play football. We need players who can play like men but also have the youth and exuberance and energy to make us a more dynamic team.
“Physically, we’re a big side now. We are physically imposing without falling short on the energy, and with the quality that we’re bringing in people can see that we can get the best of all those elements into the team.
“The pitch is looking immaculate. It’s a bit bigger this year so that might be something that we look at in how we can play,” he continued, suggesting an expansive, attacking gameplan for home matches.
“I’m very pleased with how it’s coming together, especially with the spine of our team which is looking very strong and experienced.”
Scott will hope to give debuts to his five new signings, goalkeeper Phil Smith, defender Glenn Wilson, midfielders Damon Lathrope and Sam Hatton, and Salisbury striker Dan Fitchett, alongside several trialists looking to earn contracts with the club.
Scott has previously suggested that the club’s strong relationship with the Blues may extend to a loan signing or two, and several stellar candidates are likely to feature in opposition.
Now managed by former Shots centre-back Adi Viveash, Chelsea’s Under 21 side boasts an array of English and European youth internationals, including several members of the squad which has reached the FA Youth Cup Final for the last three years in succession.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a classy midfielder tipped to make the step-up to Jose Mourinho’s first-team squad in the near future, whilst being touted as the next Raheem Sterling.
Perhaps most exciting of all, though, is 17-year-old Ecuadorian winger Josi Quintero, who signed from Barcelona last week, much to the Spanish side’s frustration.
The match, which kicks off at 7.30pm, concludes a busy week for the Shots which alsosaw the club’s all-time record goalscorer, Mark Butler, begin his new role as Commercial Manager, and the launch of the new Shots Community Partnership initiative to help the town’s young disadvantaged people in conjunction with The Source charity.
The Conference season may still be three weeks away but momentum at the ESS is building, on and off the pitch.