| - MANAGER'S COLUMN -
Previous columns can be found under the match report of the game to which they refer.
It would have been nice to have finished the season off with a trophy but full credit to Godalming, they were the hungrier and more determined team on the night almost from the first minute to the last, and the fact that we didn’t have a single shot on target is an indication of how bad we were. I’m not going to criticise the players, though, as they won nine games in April and put in an amazing shift for me, and I was always worried about this game being so long after the season had finished. Ali Fuseini has been away, Craig Dundas hasn’t trained because he’s been working, and I had a feeling this might be a difficult night especially if Godalming turned up as they did. Credit to them, they turned up really fired up and as was plain to see we didn’t, and as a manager it’s difficult to drag that extra ounce out because I felt we got that from them at Bath when everyone thought we’d take our foot off the pedal, but we didn’t. We had a tired looking team out there tonight, and with the exception possibly of Marvin in the first half, the skipper and maybe at times Anthony Riviere we were well below our best.
We went to four up front near the end to try and win the game in normal time, with Harry Beautyman supporting them, and I’ve got to be honest I thought we were more likely to score in the last ten or fifteen minutes and they were relying very much on the breakaway at that point. It was a poor goalkeeping decision from Tom to come for the ball, and you could see as soon as he called for it that it was going to cause a problem. But he’d been fantastic for us and a young goalkeeper will make mistakes, and I’d much sooner see him do it on a night like this rather than if it was for three points.
The players and myself do find the Surrey Senior Cup a difficult competition at times, and I think tonight I might have made a mistake in not playing more of the younger players that helped us to get to the final. In my opinion deciding to play the final on the ground of one of the finalists demeans the competition, and it felt very strange coming in to your own ground, going in to the away dressing room and in the case of one player actually not being allowed in to the ground. With Wimbledon,Woking and other teams playing depleted teams the competition needs a boost and it didn’t really get it tonight. I think at a neutral venue it would have appeared more like a cup final, and while I’m not using it as an excuse the team seemed flat, the supporters seemed flat and the whole evening felt flat.
I’m over the moon with the signings that we were able to announce before the game. We were made aware around February that Jamie Taylor might be available due to his family situation, with his wife expecting a baby during the summer and her family living close to Sutton, so it was a great move for him to be able to join us and we were delighted to be able to sign him. We’ve also been tracking Jamie Slabber for a while, and thanks to the supporters who have supported the Strikers Are Key initiative we’ve been able to bring him in as well. I’ve made my feelings known about our season, and while we did well in April you’ve got to look at the whole season and we didn’t score enough goals, and hopefully this will rectify that situation, so I’m very excited to get the two players, so while I’m a bit disappointed tonight we’re back on July 4th for pre-season which will come round very soon and we’ll get the excitement of the league, the FA Cup and FA Trophy.
I think this has been one of my strangest seasons in management. I’ve not felt comfortable all season, it’s been stop/start. We had a very poor start which we didn’t see coming but which was down to a lack of goals, we then had a good run in December where we looked as though we were getting back on track, but then we had every game postponed and were playing catch-up, but got to the last sixteen of the Trophy and had a fantastic run with a club record of consecutive Conference South wins, then we lost tonight, so it’s been a season of lows with occasional highs. It’s never really got going, we had a month to six weeks of bad weather and we did very well to rescue it in April, which was pleasing, but you don’t want what happened in April to cover up where some of the deficiencies were. That said, to be a top six team in this league, to reach the last sixteen of the Trophy and to get to the County Cup final should be regarded as a good season, and it’s a sign of the standards we’re setting ourselves that we’re actually a tad disappointed with this season, with the early FA Cup exit against Bromley and the fact that we didn’t really make a challenge in the league until the end. It’s been difficult for the club, with the postponements and then so many Tuesday night games with so few people, so the cashflow’s been difficult and I give the Board and Bruce great credit for being able to sustain what we’ve been doing. It’s my fifth season, but there’s still lots of enthusiasm and I’m already looking forward to pre-season.
We’re almost there in terms of personnel for next season. We’ve got to sign a right back because Elliot Wheeler was on loan, I’m looking to sign a wide player to get a good supply in for the front men, and maybe one more central midfielder, but the first two positions are priorities and that will give us the squad of about 14 senior players plus the three youngsters to give us the 17 that we’ll need to start off. The planning for next season really started from January/February time, and a lot of work’s gone in to that, and we let players like Michael Boateng, Harry Ottaway and Craig Watkins go earlier in the season, so that what we’ve got now is what we want for next season. We know we’re not far away, and if we get the players in the two positions I’ve mentioned then I’m sure we’ll have a good season next season.