THERE are lies, damn lies, and statistics – or so the saying goes. And that's the message coming out of Bovey Tracey AFC ahead of the new season in the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division.
Although, on paper, nine players have left Mill Marsh Park, manager Ryan German has only lost four of his first-team squad.
Former Torquay United scholar Aaron Ibbetson, a goalkeeper, is one of a number of players to leave for Teignmouth, alongside striker Hayden Roe, while Ed Plackett has gone to Premier Division new-boys Elmore FC.
Ben Head, the former skipper, has also opted to swap his registration to Teignmouth AFC.
However, Tom Brooks was ahead of Ibbetson in the pecking order for the number one jersey, while neither Roe or Plackett would have been first choice.
There's no doubt that Ben Head is first class, but his priorities for the season lie elsewhere, specifically with Toolstation Western League outfit Buckland Athletic.
More important for German will be the capture of new faces including Tom Kelly, Lee Smyth, and former Swansea City professional Frazer Clark.
Aaron Cowell, who played for the reserves last season, has also joined the first-team squad.
German said: "We got the most important players that we needed – if we had Ben Head it would have been a bonus but we've got the players we wanted, and we're still after a couple more.
"A lot of people have said to me that we've lost a lot of players, but many of them were old registrations.
"Out of the squad from last year we've only lost three – Ed, Aaron and Hayden Roe – but then we've also got Lee Smyth, Tom Kelly and Aaron Cowell who have come in.
"We've got 19 players in the squad, and that will have to be whittled down to 16, plus there could be two more to come."
He added: "Hopefully one or two will go down to the reserves and want to force themselves back into the first team.
"We've got to make it more of a club this year, and so we want to keep as many players as we can."
German believes a more integrated club environment is key to move forward, and is working closely with new reserve team manager Dan Davis in making the lines between the two teams more fluid.
The other managerial news is that assistant manager Micky Hunt – who German has previously described as being more like a joint-manager – has stepped down due to other footballing commitments.
Hunt has been replaced by Kevin Moyle – a former manager at Bovey – who was previously involved with one of the club's junior teams.
"Kevin is a Bovey lad who I have got to know since I've been here, and he has been managing the U10s," said German.
"He's already gained the respect of all the players for what he's done and how long he's been around, so it's a great move."
Having finished fifth from bottom last season, German is wary of lifting expectations much higher than 'mid-table', though he is willing to admit a firmer belief in the pool of talent at his disposal.
The club believed they had done enough to qualify for the FA Cup this season, having reached the 40-point mark, only to find they fell short on a 'points per game' measure.
This time, around 1.5 points per game is the target – working out as 54 points.
"On paper I feel there's only a couple of teams that are really better than us – it's a case of whether we've got the experience that other teams have got," he said.
"I think our oldest player is 26 and the youngest is only 18 or 19 so the average age is about 22.
"Although age-wise we lack experience, football-wise we certainly don't, with the likes of Tom Brooks, Liam Head, Tom Kelly.
"It's just whether the experienced boys are mature enough to help the inexperienced guys out through the bad patches.
"We've got a tough start to the season which will give us a good indication of where we can finish – I think we've got Elburton Villa, Parkway and Bodmin within the first five games.
"But the reserves and third team have been doing pre-season with the first team and there's been a great atmosphere – I've never known anything like it."
IN: Tom Kelly (Elmore), Lee Smyth (Weston-super-Mare), Frazer Clark (Buckland Athletic), Dexter Allsworth (Exeter).
OUT: Aaron Ibbetson, Hayden Roe (both Teignmouth), Ed Plackett (Elmore), Jake Welch (St Blazey), Gareth Davis, Steven Parry, Lewis Perring, Ben Robinson, Ben Head (all Newton Abbot Spurs).