John Coleman admits it’s a mixture of emotions as he looks ahead to his 22nd season opener at Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Charlton are the visitors to the Wham Stadium for the first game of the Sky Bet League One campaign – the Addicks finished one placed behind the Reds in 13th place last season.
“It’s always a mixture of emotions for the first game – excited, anxious,” said the Stanley boss. “It’s one of them, you can plan and plan and plan but, until there are points at stake and you have to fight for them, you are never quite sure how it will pan out.
“I loved the opening day of season as a player and that’s never wavered from me going into management.
“It’s generally sunny, it’s generally a good crowd who are keen to see you perform well and the buzz is there.
“There is always more of an edge on the first game than any other game, well apart from those towards the end when you are fighting for something, but the first game is always a little bit more feisty and there is a lot of nervous energy going around and we have to manage to control it.”
The Addicks have a new manager in Ben Garner, who guided free-scoring Swindon into the Play-Offs last season in League Two and, like the Reds, they have a number of new additions to their team.
“Managers tend to go to place because they have impressed with how they have done the season before and Ben Garner impressed at Swindon.
“We know the style of football Charlton will play, they will know the style of football we will play.
“You have got to come up with plans to impose yourself on the opposition and negate the opposition’s threat which every team in our league will have.”
It has been a summer of change at the Wham with the departure of first team players Colby Bishop, Ross Sykes, Matt Butcher and John O’Sullivan with Mo Sangare, Matt Lowe, Lukas Jensen, Shaun Whalley, Ryan Astley and Alhagi Touray Sisay being added to the squad.
“Losing players is inevitable and it is disappointing but you have to get on with it. Life goes on.
“The new signings have integrated well and that’s credit to the players who are already here, making them feel welcome and adapting to us quite seamlessly.”
The only problem in pre-season is the number of injuries picked up, especially by defenders with Michael Nottingham sidelined tomorrow.
“We have quite a few defenders getting injured and that’s frustrating but we won’t be the only team which suffers with injuries in pre-season and we have a big enough squad to cope.
“We would like to think we can score goals this season but there are numerous facets to winning a game of football, one of our focus has got to be on defending because of how many goals we shipped last season and hopefully we can get it on the right trajectory.”
Goalkeeper Toby Savin and winger Rosaire Longelo are suspended for the first game of the campaign which means Burnley loan stopper Lukas Jensen could make his league debut.
“This is a big opportunity for Lukas but all our keepers, Toby and Liam (Isherwood) have done well in pre-season.
“It’s a big loss Ros being out as he has impressed in pre-season but that means there are opportunities for others.”
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!