Tom Williams has been speaking to Exeter Fan Dan Muxlow about the coming season.
Exeter City weren’t a club I knew very much about until pretty recently but, after doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered they’re one of the more interesting clubs the Imps will be visiting this year. They’ve got a fascinating history that includes being the first opposition of the Brazilian national team. More recently, the Grecians (a nickname with uncertain origins) have cemented a place in League Two after an exciting decade-or-so under Paul Tisdale.
Much like the Imps, a key strength of their campaign will likely be their manager. Tisdale is entering his 12th season at the helm and will represent a considerable challenge having guided Exeter to three play-off finals, an automatic promotion place, and as high as 8th in League One. The Grecians have also developed something of a reputation for developing youth talent with academy graduates Ollie Watkins (15 goals last season) and Ethan Ampadu stepping up to Brentford and Chelsea respectively this summer.
Similarly to Lincoln, predictions for Exeter this year from outsiders tend to fall in the upper mid-table zone, while fans are eyeing a play-off push. As another club with a respected manager and a squad likely to be packed with potential, it will be interesting to see how Exeter fare this season. I’ve been able to chat to Exeter fan Dan Muxlow to ask him a few questions about his team and League Two in general.
Where would be a good finish for Exeter City?
Anywhere that’s not relegation, after last season play offs would be ideal but after losing Watkins and potentially Wheeler and not making any attacking signings we might struggle.
Which grounds would you recommend visiting?
Notts county and Coventry will be exciting next season as they are nice grounds to visit.
Who brings the best away fans in League Two?
At our ground currently there is no overhead/roof for away fans so it is hard for them to make atmosphere. However not wanting to sound biased we do take an extremely good away support and atmosphere having a group similar to the 617.
Exeter City achieved what a lot of Lincoln fans are looking to do this year with consecutive promotions in 2008 and 2009 taking you from non-league to League One. What were the key factors in that achievement, and how much of it was down to momentum?
You can put most of the success down to momentum due to the support of fans and community in the club. However it wasn’t just the fans carrying the momentum as after first promotion the players had a load of momentum.
Last season, Exeter progressed from previous solid mid-table finishes to a play-off position. What changed?
It was the atmosphere in the ground that changed, everyone was unhappy and upset about our performances and I think the manager and players understood that and realised we had to perform or we’d be relegated.
How different would you say the quality of football is from the National League in League Two? Would you say different tactics are required?
In League Two you have to play to your opponents’ weakness. If they have a weak defence you play an attacking team and vice versa. League Two is a lot more competitive because if you go down it’s extremely hard to come back up.
You endured a terrible start last time out, losing 8 of your opening 11 league fixtures, how do you explain the turn-around in fortunes?
After not winning from April 2nd to near the end of December you can see a major turnaround as in around 70 days we went from bottom of the league to play offs. Again it’s a case of play well or go down which we could not afford to do as we’d struggle to come up.
Your academy has produced both Ethan Ampadu and Ollie Watkins who have departed this summer, is this a common occurrence and is the academy an important part of the club? Some Imps fans have questioned the viability of our own academy system but the profit made by those two and the contribution made by Watkins surely supports a different view.
At Exeter a lot of our players come up through the youth and depart later on which proves for us it is extremely important. You watch players improve as they come up to the first team and leave but it has happened before with the likes of Tom Nichols and Matt Grimes who have gone on to be successful. We have young players like Jack Sparkes and Jack Arthur who are academy players who we will be likely to see in the future.
Who are your favourites for promotion this season?
Mansfield and Luton due to the amount of signings they have made and the progression of their teams.
I’d like to say a massive thank-you to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions.