League Two focus
As part of skysports.com's build-up to the 2010/11 season, Chris Burton met Steve Kabba.
Last Updated: 06/08/10 1:38pm
The new season is almost upon us and the air of excitement sweeping across the country is almost tangible.
Regardless of who you support, the dawn of a new campaign will always bring hope and expectation - even if such feelings are usually driven by the heart rather than the head.
Nobody knows what the coming months will bring, so before a ball is kicked in anger we are all world beaters and we will have no-one tell us otherwise.
In fairness, the Football League has become so ultra competitive over recent years that supporters of just about every club across all three divisions have just cause to believe that this could be their year.
For the players, the big kick-off is also an exciting time, with few enjoying the rigours of a gruelling pre-season.
For those who found themselves out of contract and facing an uncertain future at the end of last season, finding new employment is also a welcome bonus.
Many of those cast into the Free Agent market have worked their way down the ladder, with player turnaround at this level markedly different to that of the Premier League elite.
At this level, football pays the bills and those who see their income taken away face a nervous time waiting for the phone to ring.
Among those to have endured that fate this summer is Steve Kabba, who was released by Brentford - a man with top flight experience, no less.
He may have spent the majority of his career on the upper rungs, turning out for the likes of Watford and Sheffield United, but that counts for little in this cut-throat business.
Fortunately for Kabba, he has been able to earn a contract at League Two outfit Barnet and has been given enough time ahead of the season to get his feet under the table.
Skysports.com caught up with the 29-year-old frontman recently to get his take on the season to come, but started off by asking him about the relief of securing a new deal with plenty of time to spare.
"It was a relief, definitely," he smiled.
"I have now been able to get a pre-season. It's always important to get that time and it's good to be back in it. Nobody likes pre-season but you need to get that work in and get the legs going again."
Kabba has been around long enough to know that the summer can be an important time for any player and admits that life at Barnet, who have been busy in the transfer market, is no different.
"They have signed a lot of new players, so it's been the same for everybody," he said.
"I have been in here, though, for two weeks now and I'm getting used to it. Everything has gone alright so far."
As a London native the opportunity to stay in the capital with Barnet appealed greatly to Kabba, but he insists that it was the chance to play regular first-team football that ultimately convinced him to make the move.
He said: "The manager showed an interest, which is the most important part! He showed an interest so I went down there, trained, played a game and they were happy to offer me an opportunity to play. That was the main thing really. Being in London is a good thing as well, but that wasn't the be all and end all."
It is now common for clubs in the fourth tier to have to rebuild year on year, with budgets so tight that long-term deals have become a thing of the past.
Barnet have faced that task this year, with a whole host of new recruits drafted in, and Kabba admits it will take time for the club to find their feet.
"To be fair, because we have got so many new players, we are going to have to see what the first five to 10 games bring and then take it from there," he said on the ambitions at Underhill.
"There is no real pressure on us. It's a young squad so nobody is putting a lot of pressure on the boys. But we are going to see how it goes and take things as they come.
"We need to gel as a team. We have played a few games together in pre-season, which is good for fitness and getting to know each other, but we need to get down to the real stuff now."
Kabba is no stranger to life in League Two, having taken in a loan spell at Burton Albion last season, and admits he had no problem in dropping down then or now.
"It was just about getting games under my belt," he said on his time with the Brewers.
"It had been a while since I played and I wanted first-team football on a regular basis. I was training all week but not playing at the weekend, but that was life. I went to Burton and found some good form and hopefully that will carry on this season."
There are question marks as to whether Barnet can make their mark on the upper reaches of the fourth tier this season, but anything can happen.
Asked who he expects to be challenging this year, Kabba said: "Chesterfield will be up there, they only just missed out last year. They will be quite a force next season.
"I think Shrewsbury were quite decent last year as well. And Burton, they are decent. They played some good football last season, so they will feel that they can do alright.
"It's pretty even, though, so it's all about getting a good start and building confidence. Hopefully we can do that and then kick on from there."
He added: "It's a level field playing now. You ask who do I fancy, but it's so hard to call. Look at Burton last year, we were doing alright at one stage and almost made the play-offs, so you never know. I think it's all about consistency in this league."
That is proving to be the case in all divisions nowadays, with the gap between those at the top and the bottom narrowing by the year.
Kabba admits English football has never been tougher, especially when you are battling for your livelihood in League Two.
He said: "It's a lot tougher now. I have spent 11 or 12 years in the Championship and a season in the Premier League, which was tough. I went to Brentford (in League One) for a bit last season and that was a pretty even playing field for a lot of teams.
"There are a lot of games at this level so you have to make sure you stay fit and try to build a winning mentality. If you can all stay together you should be alright, but it's about maintaining that because it's a long, hard season."
While Kabba has every intention of helping Barnet negotiate that hard slog as successfully as possible in 2010/11, he admits that he still harbours ambitions of climbing the ladder again in the not too distant future and hopes his time with the Bees will put him back in the shop window.
"I have played almost all my career in the Championship so I'm keen to get back to that level," he added.
"If I can stay fit and get the goals, I reckon I could still do a job at a higher level. I can't wait for the season to start, which is the way it should be, so I can show what I can do."