Photo: Red Stripe Premier League Coach of the Year 2015-2016 Marcel Gayle will lead his UWI FC team against his former club Waterhouse FC in his first game of his second season as head coach. Gayle will be looking for a much better start than his debut season when the UWI were hammered 4-0 by Arnett Gardens.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, a new season always brings so much anticipation, excitement – and hope! Last season was possibly the most unpredictable season in the Red Stripe Premier League, with Mobay United's title-winning heroics almost impossible to fathom.
With Donovan Duckie at the helm at Humble Lions FC and Marvin Tate taking over at Waterhouse FC and some of the island's top and emerging players also moving around the league, we are all set for yet another memorable season.
Marvin Tate believes he has depth in defence and firepower to win the league.
Does Waterhouse FC have the best starting XI in the RSPL this season?
Marvin Tate's Waterhouse FC mission involves improving the club's performances in the Knock Out competition as well as winning back the Premier League title. Widely regarded as one of the most sought after manager's on the local circuit, 'Firehouse' will enter the campaign under lots of pressure.
At a glance
"It begins" - is the phrase that has been chosen to mark Tate's start at Waterhouse, but perhaps more important is Waterhouse's continued emphasis on organic growth. The clubs dismal performance last year left many spectators in tears. It took a stout effort in the club's final game to cement their stay in the nation's top flight. Waterhouse have been extremely busy in the market this summer, bringing in seven new players in Tate's first attempt at squad building. Not all of the team's summer purchases look like they are designed to bring instant success, however, with a clear emphasis on vibrant young talent for the future.
Waterhouse failed to shut out teams last season, giving away far too many goals, so the acquisition of Ramone McGregor has bolstered a critical area in central defence, which -- it could be argued -- is exactly where stability is required well before the season starts.
With defensive stability a must, Waterhouse's attacking prowess could provide a headache for all opponents this term. The team seems to be putting the pieces together nicely in pre season, coming off back to back wins after losing the first two games. The team has scored 7 goals, while conceding 4. Andre Leslie has been very lethal in front of goal thus far, scoring in all but one game and is getting good support from his strike partners. Coach Tate is thoroughly impressed with the level of passes completed each game and the number of chances created.
The big question is how quickly can Tate stamp his authority on this squad and on to the Red Stripe Premier League title race. In a fascinating-looking lineup, Waterhouse with a fit and pacey Romario 'Rum Rum' Campbell will have serious competition this time out from defending champions Montego Bay United, Arnett Gardens, with UWI, Humble Lions, Harbour View and Portmore hoping to have a significant influence too.
Was UWI's run last season a fluke?
UWI's first ever appearance in the Red Stripe Premier League ended well, with the club finishing a respectable 5th in the table, and narrowly missing out on a semifinals berth. The key now is to build on that. UWI will tackle Waterhouse FC to kick start the 2016/17 campaign, and the pragmatic Marcel Gayle looks to take the Pelicans to the next level.
A VERY GOOD RUN
The Pelican face an even tougher task of making it to the semi finals this time around. Their movement in the transfer market was rather slow, somewhat mimicking that of Arsene Wenger of Arsenal in the English Premier League.
Dawyne Smith, an exciting new prospect brought in from Cavaliers SC, is expected to add pace and stability in midfield and to pop in a few goals. With a proven and hungry set of players from last season, Gayle is a little cautious in hovering around with unproven talent. This is arguably not what he wants in his armory. Though it's a slow summer with just one confirmed acquisition, that hasn't addressed all the gaps in the squad. No new central defender, holding midfielder nor a lethal striker yet, is the biggest concern, more so with the prolific Girvon Brown on the move.
The second season of the Red Stripe Premier League football is always a difficult one. The pressure is increased, players leave and the initial energy from getting promoted has now disappeared. This is something that UWI will have to deal with.
However, there is something exciting and fresh about Marcel 'Fuzzy' Gayle which hints that his side will be just fine with these raised expectations. He has gotten them this far, and there is nothing to suggest the upwards drive is ending anytime soon ... is there?
The squad is still young and hungry for success, and as proved last year, they all thrive playing under him. They respect and buy into his philosophy, so the absence of a new big-name signing in the team can be excused, despite the club raising their profile massively.
However, one characteristic that the team is still missing is Red Stripe Premier League experience, particularly in defence. The side gained valuable knowledge from last season's success which will help equip them for the 2016-17 battle, but that will only go so far. Question marks remain over the decision to choose against hiring at least one tried-and-tested Red Stripe Premier League player.
The biggest problem in 2015-16 was keeping clean sheets. The only club to concede more goals was Waterhouse. It will be intriguing to see if Gayle can get the correct player combination along the back line to resolve this huge problem.
Despite what the masses thinks coach Gayle has demonstrated that he belongs in the big league, he is a big deal and he will do whatever to stay there. For a coach who honed his craft at Waterhouse it will be a mouthwatering affair.