21st August 2018 – Gary Johnson is sacked by Cheltenham Town four games in to the new season after a winless start to the campaign.
All hope seemed lost at the Johnny Rocks Stadium and the club opted to bring back Burnley coach and Robins legend Michael Duff to take charge of the first team.
Duff’s appointment helped galvanise a Cheltenham team that was devoid of confidence before his arrival and the club went on an impressive run of form at home, where they only lost once on their own patch between November and May.
However, the summer transfer window now provides Duff with an opportunity to strengthen his squad with the main aim of finishing in the Play-off places next year.
Despite the arrival of Luke Varney in late September, a striker has to be one of the main priorities for the Robins this summer. The veteran forward was drafted in by Duff and has netted 14 goals for the club in a thoroughly impressive return. However, the 36 year old was the only player to hit double figures in terms of goals, with Tyrone Barnett coming second in the goal scoring charts with 7.
Billy Waters has been placed on the transfer list by parent club Northampton Town and is available should Duff choose to bring him back to Gloucestershire for a third spell at Whaddon Road. Although, having netted only four goals, it might persuade Cheltenham to pursue alternative avenues.
Recently released Morecambe striker Vadaine Oliver has been linked with a move to the Johnny Rocks, but after only 5 goals in two seasons with the Shrimps, is he the answer to the secondary scoring woes for Michael Duff?
Mark Halliwell, commentator for BBC Radio Gloucestershire, believes that Richie Bennett could be a decent fit up front. The 6 ft 4 in striker spent the second half of last season on loan at Morecambe where he helped keep the club up, notching 5 goals in 9 outings. Should Tyrone Barnett be released, could the 28 year old fill the void left by the Robins front man.
Central midfield could also be another option for Duff to strengthen. Jordan Tillson looks set to return to Exeter City following the completion of his loan spell with the Robins and after failing to set the world alight during his time with the club, it is unlikely we will see him in a Town shirt again.
Stuart Sinclair is someone that has experienced the highs of League Two following promotion with Bristol Rovers. The diminutive midfielder has just been released by the Gas and could be just what the Robins are looking for. Known for his terrier-like performances and never say die attitude, Sinclair would be an astute signing for Duff.
It looks set to be a busy summer for the Robins as Michael Duff will hope to mould a Cheltenham Town team in his image. If they can get the recruitment right and improve their away form, there is no reason as to why the Robins can’t push for a place in the top six next campaign.