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MVP Thompson expects tougher road to title

Published:Saturday | September 5, 2015 | 2:21 PMLivingston Scott

Arnett Gardens' Premier League success last season was mainly down to the team's attacking prowess. The 'Junglists' were the best attacking unit in the competition, scoring 54 times - six more than their closest rivals, Waterhouse - and 14 goals more than the third best attacking team, Montego Bay United.

However, their climb back to the pinnacle of local football could not have happened without their defensive stalwart and team leader, Oneil 'Bigga' Thompson.

The former Boys' Town man was not only a rock in defence for the champions, but also their inspirational leader on and off the pitch and was everyone's overwhelming favourite for the season's Most Valuable Player and the Tony Burrowes Award for Excellence on and off the field.

Although the former national player, who turned 32 last month, he is confident of maintaining his level of performance and helping his team retain the RSPL title this season.

"For me, I am always performing to the best of my ability and with my responsibility that surrounds my role in the team, it always keeps me 200 per cent focused. So I always go out and do my best, and this season, I don't think you should expect anything less, only more," he assured.

If Arnett are to win successive championships, Thompson insists improvements must be made defensively.

"Every footballer wants to win at all times. We want to retain the title and we know what to do. We have to work hard and attack as we always create a lot of chances because for the last two seasons we were the best attacking team, so it's in the defence we have to improve.

"I can't remember the last time we played a game that ended 0-0, so once we are defending well, that means we can always create chances to score," he added.

Thompson also expects their strength in depth to continue playing a key role.

Enough players

"We still have a few people out. But that was one of the plus for us last season, whenever we had people out we had people to fill those voids. We will have to start the journey without a few players, but we have enough firepower to go and have a good start.

The former Nottodden FK (Sweden) and Barnsley FC (England) player also warned his teammates to anticipate an even more difficult road to the title this year.

"We are very confident (of retaining title), but it's going to be tough, very tough. Last season, I told my team that it wouldn't be the same top four as the year before and this season I don't think it will be the same top four again," said Thompson.

"You had teams that didn't play to the best of their abilities like Tivoli and Harbour View for instance. So it should be very interesting. But Arnett Gardens, with their fan base and the community, are looking forward to try and dominate local football, that's what's in the back of everybody's mind," he said.