Down the corridors of the Academy of light the feel about the place is improved gone is the depression of last season the new manager has improved the clubs fortunes off the pitch and with new owners looking like they are ready to splash the cash financially the club look to be on a good footing. I walked into the manager’s office to find Andy sat headphones on playing the air drums id like to assume its to something like Phil Collins but its more likely to be slayer or anthrax. At least he’s not clad in jeans and a t-shirt this time as he sits in the clubs track suit after over seeing a training session led by his assistant Peter Reid.
Why was Peter brought to the club? and do you fear he’s after your job?
Of course not if I did id sack him [Laughs] Reidy was gaffer here when I was a lad and felt it was the best football in years. So when I needed to bring in a new number two, based on his experience and also I needed someone else to have commitment to the club. He knows the inner workings of the club far more than I do. I was born and raised here so I like to think I know what we expect from our teams and id like to think that Peter and I are both pulling in the same direction to do this. I’ve also brought in a few other of the players from that era to join the coaching staff, ill admit I wanted to bring in Bally but he didn’t want to be involved in the coaching side he thought his better role was with the younger lads.
Thomy retired in the summer and jumped at the chance to join as goalkeeper coach as did Mickey [Bridges] both have had good careers with the club mad buggers that they are to move back here from Oz! lets see if they still want to be here when it’s snowing and I ask them to train the lads outside while me and Reidy “observe” from here!. I was trying to get Kevin [Phillips] to take a role here but finances didn’t allow it I’m hoping that will change now.
How has the start gone?
Well from the start the lads took to the ideas i was trying to get across and you could tell that from pre-season despite it only being about fitness we still went and won all the games. we then got that massive win on the opening night of the season, the younger lads who stepped up to fill in for injuries have been brilliant and as you’ve seen the youngsters have been well rewarded for their good performances, and we kept going when we went into the first international break with four wins from five, this from a team that showed no fight at all last season.
I’m very happy with the way things have turned around. there was a couple of good results after the break but then that calamitous game against Hull i can only apologize to the fans for that and I can assure them the players got a rollicking for that it was not acceptable. I’m not going to say there’s no room for improvement from any performance but only the Hull & Aston Villa defeats have been really poor performances but thankfully we’ve managed to bounce back from both with more wins on the board.
Any stand out players?
The obvious ones would be Watmore and Grabban, Grabban’s 8 goals have helped in the good start we’ve had, as has Watmore’s Duncan was injured for so long then to come back and be so prolific in front of goal. I’ve just got to hope he can continue his form, but its the entire team doing well enough to get us the points we’ve picked up from the defense to the attack we’ve shown in games that we can take it to the opposition at times we really need to kill teams off and we’ll work more towards that heading into the busy Christmas period.
I will say that despite the good start and the players performing well that we will be on the look out for new signings in Jan maybe bring in one or two to bolster the team.
You’ve given a chance to a number of the U23s?
Of course I have the squad I inherited had some players who were not either good enough or didn’t have the correct attitude to play for the club and the fans saw that last season under Moyes. So anyone who felt they were too good to play for us has been dropped and replaced with someone from the U23’s who actually want to play for us, I’ve given plenty of them a chance and will continue to do so as they have done brilliantly.
Elliot [Embleton] has been brilliant in midfield and ill continue to use him there he’s been capped at youth level for England and its right he’s given the chance to show what he can do and I’ve been impressed so far. in defense too no disrespect to the lads but the back line were not good enough last year the amount of goals conceded were poor so i needed to shake things up a bit and Brotherton has stepped up as has Beadling in forming a solid back line they are both young so will make mistake but will learn from them and Reidy is working with them on the training ground to make them better,
Why have you sent senior players to train alone?
Well as mentioned the players were given the chance but some failed to accept the change and were sent to train on their own till new clubs were found as I didn’t want them moping around ruining the atmosphere that’s pretty fragile and i’m trying to rebuild into something positive. All three players have been sent down for different reasons, Rodwell was removed from the first team picture entirely because I felt he’s never settle in at the club he’s one of the high earners and I don’t think he has a future at the club add that to the fact the likes of Robson, Gooch and Honeyman can come through I felt we no longer needed him.
Gibson for primarily the same reason as Rodwell, Jones on the other hand I’ve spoken to him and ill be honest here I don’t rate him as a player he has a lot of heart and effort but very little else and the system and identity I’m trying to instill on the club is that of technical attacking football and he doesn’t fit in well enough. There are others in the squad I don’t want at the club but currently the depth isn’t there so we will be looking for replacements in the near future.
How has the take over affected things?
It was a bit of a surprise to be honest I was fully informed Ellis wished to sell when I came to the club and I was expecting someone else to buy the club I never thought we would get someone with the wealth Zoltan has I’ve spoken to him and he seems really enthusiastic about the plans and future for the club we are in a much better financial state than we were in the summer.
I’m not going to lie the funds he has given me have increased dramatically but we’ve been in the boom bust scenario before with Drumaville so don’t expect us to go and spend millions in Jan, expect more transfers both ways as we have a bit more funds to compete and the wage budget is no longer as tight but ill sit down in the coming weeks and discuss the transfer plans with Zoltan and see who is available and who will be brought in.
Things have also got a lot tougher the pressure now is a lot more than when I came in discussed in the summer with Ellis we saw progress as pushing for the play-offs but Zoltan has bigger plans that he wants the club back in the premiership so the pressure is on us to continue the form we’ve started with.
Your thoughts on England’s world cup group?
Ah Gareth has a tough job on his hands there its going to be very interesting to see if we can step up against those teams, especially Mexico & Spain both of those have some very good players and will push England all the way.
Replace backroom staff (improve when financially viable)
SELL JACK RODWELL or release or hell just throw him in the wear
Get rid of the so-called “Rotten core” (kone, Catts, O’shea etc.)
Replace players with young promising players
Improve scouting network
Provide path from U23’s to first team
Have minimum of 4 players in the first team squad who have come Through the academy (ideally from the area)
Build a tactical identity (3 at the back fast attacking football)
Get rid of the debt £54m due to loan to purchase club
Get promoted to the premier league
Survive in the premier league
Qualify for Europe through the league
Win a cup
Expand the Stadium of light
*Disclaimer* these wont be regular pretty much only when something major happens and I will try to have a little of the rest of the world in my save, The next “interview” probably wont be until next summer as my end of season post will be more stats wise 🙂