After Saturday’s in house game and first full ninety minute workout, I caught up with Ian to chew the fat about the coming season. We discussed the squad, what our pre-season means to him and looked into the crystal ball with regards to what the coming season holds in store for the Conference South sides, ours included!
JM “You had a chance to look at the new players and some triallists yesterday Ian, how did it go and did anybody stand out for you?”
IA “Yesterday was very competitive and it gave twenty two players the chance to play ninety minutes of football on a full sized pitch. It would be difficult for me to single out any individuals but everybody put in a shift. We played in 27 degree’s with full sun and that came off the back of an extremely strenuous two weeks of fitness training. It was exactly what we needed and I was very pleased with the outcome.”
JM “You have a very tough week ahead, not forgetting the visit of Arsenal, one of the best sides in the country!”
IA “Arsenal are getting ready for a massive season with so much at stake. The same applies for Brentford, newly promoted to the Championship. We will need to pay both sides massive respect. We will not see much of the ball, but when we do get it we need to be calm. These sort of games are fantastic for our fitness and mental strength which will help us going into our League campaign. We are a difficult team to break down when we are set up well. We proved that in the two games against Carlisle United last season.”
JM “We then move on to the Cambridge United game next Tuesday and finish up with three further fixtures before the season starts.”
IA “ Having to play Cambridge United three days after Arsenal and Brentford will also be a big ask. We gave them a very hard work out here last pre-season and we know they are a very fit side. However we had picked up some injuries already by then, so I am hoping we can start to show what we have up front and in an attacking sense in that game and really move that momentum on, through the visit of the Reading and Arsenal academy sides and our only away trip to Enfield Town.”
JM “How far away are you from a squad that you are confident can compete in the League next season?”
IA “ I feel the midfield is nearly settled, but we are on the lookout for another striker and perhaps another centre back as cover for Josh Hill, Callum Reynolds. Also I may need another full back as we lose Ben Nunn for a few months and unfortunately Mark Jones has work commitments that will take precedent over his football career. In Luke Garrard I have one of the best right back in the Division, but playing him there would leave a space in front of the defence.
“We did excellent business at the end of last season offering contracts to the squad that we wanted to retain, that was when most of the hard work was done. With three more additions we hope to compete for a play-off place, if not top eight no question.”
JM “I have not had the chance to speak to you since the signing of Lee Angol. How important was that for you?”
IA ” I think we all saw what an exciting prospect he is last campaign. However what you will see next season is not a Wycombe Wanderers youth team player, but a Luton Town development squad player. Wycombe were in a relegation dogfight so it was very hard for Gareth Ainsworth to ever utilise him and he wasn’t playing. Whereas this season he will play with us and train full-time at Luton, who are buoyant and a club on the up and looking to progress back up the Divisions. They have a manager in John Still who has a superb record in developing players and I believe I am already seeing the benefits with Lee, after just two weeks of training!”
JM “The recurring theme of Clubs throwing money around in our League has surfaced again. What are your thoughts?”
IA “We have spoken to five or six players in the close season that I would have thought we had a good chance of offering a contract to. Then they come back with, sorry I am off to such and such a club in our League purely for a higher salary. With our set up, new stand and training facilities now second to none, we still have to operate with a small fan base but I have a strict budget and i need to stick to it. That is the way we have to do business at Boreham Wood Football Club. Not once do the players have to wait for their money and we will never go down the road of so many sides recently, who end up on the scrap heap blaming other for their financial difficulties.”
JM “You have already stated your intentions of fighting for a play-off place this coming season. Can I ask you to look into the crystal ball and give me your predictions on our opposition, especially the three newcomers, given that they will form local derby matches, which is something to look forward to again?”
IA “It will be interesting to see what the likes of Sutton United, Bromley, Ebbsfleet United, Havant and Waterlooville do, as all of them are decent clubs on and off the pitch. While it seems this time out that Whitehawk, will also have financial clout to challenge and I expect them to be strong.
“I think in regards to the three new sides, they will all be decent but it’s a tough league, They know that and i believe all will stay up! Hemel Hempstead have been banging in goals for fun under Dean and ran away with their League from the first day of last season. So that interests me to see if they can repeat that attacking prowess at this level but they do have goals a plenty in their squad.. Wealdstone are extremely well organised, they have a massive and passionate fan base, which will carry them through their home campaign and in Gordon Bartlett they have a manager of great experience. They did not lose many games last season and that could hold them in good stead”.
“St Albans City did extremely well under Graham Golds and James Gray last season. To get promoted last season was a fantastic achievement for such a young management team. They are now clearly trying to improve their squad and its clear both their joint owners are improving their infra-structure off the pitch, so they should not be under estimated and if they get off to a good start they could do well.
“My outside tip for the title however is Bath City. They have come through a tough period off the field, have regrouped well and are the only side at our level for miles around and that’s a good situation to be in. Dorchester Town went down and Weston Super Mare have lost their manager and I’m told their budget, so Bath could well have the pick of a very good crop of players down in the West Country.”
JM “Thank you Ian and good luck! It promises to be another exciting season!”