North Gloucestershire Division 3 2012/2013
Davies Reflects On an Impressive Redmarley Season
With the end of season dust finally settled, the curtain has “come down” following an excellent “End of Season” awards evening.
We take time to catch up with Andy Davies who reflects on last season’s campaign but more importunately focuses on the adventures that lie ahead.
Q “How would you describe your first season in charge?”
Well it hasn’t been a full season; it feels like it at times! But it’s been tremendous, an unprecedented success, both on and off the field.
The hard work starts now though, because we have set high standards, and that’s something we have to maintain.
Q “What are your lasting memories of the season?”
I have loads of those from a playing point of view. The continued development of the players who have all been superb, not just technically, but from an attitude and approach point of view. They really are first class and deserve great praise.
So yes, numerous memories, a great day out at Tidenham, capped by a wonderful performance. Clawing it back to 3 all against a very strong and capable Newent side (we showed genuine character that day). Going to Ruradean with a bare bones squad and playing some wonderful football culminating in an impressive win.
From a coaching point of view you always get immense satisfaction when you plan something in advance and it comes off in a game. James Coe’s introduction in our last match was planned, deliberate. James knew exactly what to do and what was needed given we had talked it all through days before, and he did it superbly.
Arron Jenkins hatrick against Mushet away is another fine example. Arron killed their centre halves that day. The lad’s one of the quickest we have and I knew his pace would cause Mushet real issues at the centre of their defence. His first goal is still one of my favourites from last season .When you are one on one and have time to think about things, they are the hardest. Great composure.
Q “Would you have changed your approach in any way?”
There are a couple of minor things. In the early days a couple of changes (substitutions) that I should have made slightly earlier in the game to protect the teams position. But you live and learn. We all strive for perfection but at the end of the day we are all human, slight errors of judgement happen.
I always aim to have a clear line of communication with the lads, if for some reason you don’t play I always intend to explain why, and 9 times out of 10 it’s tactical. For me it’s a courtesy and respect thing to be fair.
There’s nothing worse than being “frozen out” by your coach and not having any idea why and where you may have gone wrong … I’ve experienced that one first hand and its soul destroying …. That approach will never happen on my watch here … If you need to have a difficult conversation with someone you do it, behind closed doors. The art is making it constructive for all parties.
Its just basic man management really. There’s a smashing bloke where I work, coming up for retirement soon, done 37 years at the place (deserves a medal!). Never without a smile on his face, the happiest bloke I know. He’s only ever done minor “post” based roles in the organisation, and regrettably many people couldn’t give him the time of day, but I do …. I let him know most days what a valuable job he does and how much he will be missed …. And guess what? I always have a pen on my desk, and my post never goes astray! …. Always in order at the start of each day… and that’s my point I guess, everyone, no matter how minor some people may think they are, play key roles… Everyone in this club is central to success …. Whether your one of the young lads who isn’t quite ready to play yet, down to the bloke who mucks out the changing room at the end of match days, which is usually Oli Osborne or me !
I’ve digressed slightly, but yes, On the whole it’s gone like a dream. I’m very happy.
Q “Are you satisfied with the teams overall performance during 2012/13 campaign?”
My expectations have been totally exceeded. When I started I aimed for a good solid league finish, a platform of stability on which to build given we had spiralled as a club the previous season. Stability seemed key.
To secure promotion, at the first time of asking is an immense achievement by everyone when you consider the clubs position 12 months ago…. Never forget we nearly folded, it came that close to a ball never being kicked in anger, and if it wasn’t for the likes of Aaron Smith we wouldn’t be here today.
Aaron has backed me superbly, supplied total support when I’ve needed it. I’m very grateful and consider myself fortunate to be working with a great bloke who shares the same football vision for this club that I do.
Q “Can you give one specific item of success that has given you the greatest satisfaction?”
Jay Stephenson being able to correctly work out the day of the week???? (Joke Jay!)
Seriously, though, one or two of the guys gave me the impression that they were considering finishing the game before coming to Marley.
Those lads turned in some top notch performances, the club thrived and as a result they rekindled their love for the game. It doesn’t get much better than that, given that’s the aim of all this, to make sure everyone enjoys their football stays in the game for as long as possible and feel very much part of the club …. Everything else is secondary.
Q” What do you consider to be the most important game of the season?”
This may surprise a few people, but from a club perspective, Whitecroft at home in the league.
We had lost in the cup and to Harrow Hill away the week before. I think it’s fair to say that the club didn’t have the general level of interest at that time that it enjoys today.
Playing wise we were lower in numbers and a third defeat on the bounce could have dented confidence and interest in the club immeasurably.
I’ve never coached a team before that’s lost 3 on the spin, I’ve gone 3 games without a win , but never 3 straight defeats, so for me there’s the pride aspect but more importantly I couldn’t accept the risk of the club going into freefall.
Up steps Dan Jeeves to bag a hatrick and with ABD grabbing a late goal the rests history … We never looked back after that game.
Q “What are your objectives for next Season?”
Providing we can retain the nucleus of the squad, promotion is a very realistic aim and sets our objective.
It’s important that we do well in our first 3 games because that will help shape our season, but don’t underestimate how capable this group of players can be. They will improve yet further and that’s something that very much excites me.
Q “Do you intend to bring in new players for next season?”
Right from the start we have stated that we will only bring in new players if their attitude and approach to the game fits with the clubs ethics.
They could be the next “Ronaldo”, but if their attitude is poor, and it creates divisions in what I consider to be the best dressing room I’ve personally experienced , they have no place or future at our club.
I’ve experienced the bad apple syndrome before; you get the “big time” “Charlies” with an even bigger ego,that busts up the continuity of the club. Their attitude spreads like a cancer and before you know it you don’t have a club anymore.
The likes of big Nick (Blewitt) and Bense have made some fantastic introductions to the club, not just from a playing point of view; we have all gained some real “life” friends out of all of this.
Team spirit is invaluable, that played a massive part in our promotion and should never be overlooked. It also generates one hell of a great night out!
Q “What is the hardest aspect of the job?”
For me personally, its team selection. We have some very gifted players who have superb attitude and approach and only 11 can play …. I find that very difficult because every single one of them deserves to start… they all have their own individual, unique qualities that they bring to the team and when you couple that with the fact that they are great people, leaving people out becomes very hard indeed.
Q “Do you intend to radically change playing style next season?”
We will continue to evolve as a club. You can never rest on your “laurels”, we have to strive to improve even further and that’s what we will do.
There are new systems which we will try; we always need a plan “B” contingency up our sleeve. We would be foolish not to. So we will add additional strings to our already sturdy “bow”.
I remember having a similar discussion with “Dubes” earlier in the season. There are techniques you can apply in Division 3 that are particularly effective, but the higher you move up the leagues the less effective they become, so you evolve and modify your approach, but you don’t totally abandon what has worked well in the past.
I’m a big believer that if it’s not “broken” don’t “fix it”. We have a system that’s worked well, and systems are invariably dictated by the playing personnel that you have at your disposal at that time.
I remember formerCheltenhamTownboss John Ward being challenged as to why he didn’t select 2 players up front, preferring to play with a lone striker … His answer … That’s the best option he had …. He didn’t have two recognised strikers to pick from!
Q “Do you intend to modify the clubs approach to training?”
We will build on what we have and that process is already under way.
Smithy has earmarked a dedicated goal keeping coach, which will take our keepers to a new level.
I intend to play a more active part in coaching next season (work commitments permitting) but I intend to focus on “individuals” rather than the “collective”.
One to one player sessions will be planned to improve certain aspects of their game,
with specific drills aimed at getting the most out of the lads play … It may get repetitive , but sometimes that’s what it takes I’m afraid. This will extend further to “off pitch” sessions with the focus being on player movement, positioning, reading of the game and increasing tactical awareness. Arguably, the most important aspects of football.
The art of good training is trying, as best as you can, to replicate what will happen in a real game situation and keeping as many people “involved” in the exercise as possible ….. You wont see me set up an exercise whereby lads are standing around doing nothing for 10 minutes or where I get players to falsely volley a ball into a net from 35 yards out time and time again…. How often does that happen in a game? The last time I saw that routine (at a semi pro club not far from Nailsworth!) … I laughed my rocks off.
The main limiting factor to training this season has revolved around time and environment…. There’s only so much you can do in an hour on Newent astro. …. We will continue to explore all options that are available to us on this particular front.
Here’s to looking forward to a brilliant season 2013/14!
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