Today in Local to Legend…
Welcome to part #7 in my “local to legend” series with Christchurch FC. In part #6 I reviewed the second half of last season, and what a season it was. Our youth intake was also evaluated as well as analysing the season. If you missed that catch up here. If you have just joined us, review the series from the start here.
In this part, I will be taking through our preseason friendlies, looking at the squad, what i expect for the season ahead as well as picking up on some ins and outs throughout the club.
Preseason is just one of those things as a manager you have to go through, but never really understand why or what for. In my professional opinion, preseason is a great tool for managers to understand their squad for the season to come and start integrating that squad to familiarise themselves with tactics. It is also vital for that player match fitness and sharpness.
Christchurch FC did just that. It was the plan that the team would play some matches that would challenge them on a tactical level and some that would see their match fitness/sharpness increase.
Christchurch FC had a fantastic preseason in terms of friendlies with only losing to Preston. The lads did manage victories against AFC Bournemouth U23s, Keynsham, Plymouth Res, Chard and Trowbridge. A total of 14 goals scored and 11 conceded was not bad going. Especially for a team entering tier 8 of English football for the first time in their history.
I have decided to gamble this season and stick with mostly what players were at Christchurch FC last season. Also another risk I have taken is sticking a lot of newgens in and around the first team. The plan here is to develop players that are not far off first team level in terms of current ability, in the hope that in a few seasons time they will be very much up to standard. So, you could say I’m valuing potential ability higher than current ability. I’m not going to say much on the squad for the season ahead as it always backfires on me, HA! However, I would expect the award winning players (you know who they are) to continue to perform.
Additions to the Club
Ainslie comes in as the first transfer of the new season. The central defender has come in expecting to be played in a first team role. The added experience should help us sure up our defence.
Another central defender Uttridge come into the club expecting to start pretty much every game. This is what I intend to happen as well. He is a very good central defender for this level and I would expect him to develop with age.
Young wide midfielder Egbri came to the club mainly for his potential ability. Also the fact there was only 1 right-sided wide midfielder in the squad. Everyone will be hoping he performs and fulfills his potential.
Benton, a strong and solid central midfielder comes in to sure up our holding midfield role. The fact that the club only had 1/2 weak holding midfielders spoke volumes about bringing in someone more experienced.
Left-sided full back Rents will add masses of experience to the side. Rents had been at Brighton, Crawley, Whitehawk and Margate before joining the Church. Unfortunately, he did pick up an injury in his first preseason friendly for us. But he will be raring to go once back and match fit. Slack will now play a rotational role as Rents will be first choice left-sided full back providing his injury hasn’t effected his ability too much.
Last but certainly not least, Reece comes in as a creative midfielder to provide another option for us instead of relying on Hornby. An all-rounder in terms of attributes and should be able to play a vital role in the team this season.
Just a few changes in the backroom staff department. Pretty much all staff were released at the end of last season and replaced with more efficient staff members. Firstly, our assistant manager left to join Havant as an U18 manager. Hodgson, Cook, Atkins, Easter, Potts and Darby were all relieved of their duties. This meant only one thing, replacing them.
First into the coaching setup, was assistant manager and ex-West Ham midfielder Collison. A potentially great assistant that could be around the club for years to come. Goalkeeping coach Shaw, came into the club next as our search to improve the coaching team progressed. Molyneux joined the club as the new fitness coach and would solely be responsible for player fitness. Last to join the coaching setup at the club was head of youth development Cogan. I did have to sign this guy on a joint player/head of youth development contract, but he will not be played at all this season.
The next area to improve was our scouting setup where the club first looked at Boyle; who claimed the job of chief scout. In order for the scouting setup to run neatly I insisted that the club look for another scout and that was when Christchurch FC signed Waters as the second scout at the club. The final addition to our scouting team was the introduction of our first data analyst. Wills takes the position of chief data analyst; who will hopefully help us identify and evaluate a lot more efficiently.
Finally, our medical setup was improved by the signature of Callinan as our head physio and Pinnock as our regular physio. These two have a very important job of preventing injuries within the team as well as aiding the recovery of injured players.
What to Expect?
Southern League Division One East
One thing that is particularly annoying is that whoever made the database hasn’t set promotion sin the right way. Christchurch FC should be playing in the regional West league at this level not the East. But, it’s something I’ll just have to deal with. Another promotion, another set of higher expectations.
A top half finish is expected by the board, however looking at the teams in this division I reckon I could push Christchurch FC into the playoffs this season. In contrast, the medias season preview places Christchurch FC to finish in 8th place. this would fit in with the boards expectations, but not mine.
The FA Cup
Another season in the FA Cup means one thing… A CUP RUN! An expected finish of the first qualifying round, shouldn’t be too hard considering our previous FA Cup runs.
The FA Trophy
A completely new adventure for us this season. Our first season competing in the FA Trophy sees the board expecting a second qualifying round finish. Unfortunately, Christchurch FC are in the lowest tier for teams competing in this trophy. So, all the teams faced will be of similar or better quality you would imagine. Is that going to stop us, like hell it is!
Southern League Cup
In my opinion, a pointless local trophy that comes with playing in the regional leagues. The board expect a second round finish. I would expect to see a rotated side play in this competition as I do not value it at all.
Next Time on Local to Legend…
In part #8 I’ll be reviewing the first half of our debut season competing in the Southern League Division One East. Can we exceed expectations and gain a further cup run.
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