In a special feature, League sponsors MANarama find out the manager has had a rather busy few days. Interview by Sam Elliott
A rare Saturday off. A chance to put your feet up, enjoy a football free weekend and maybe make a start on the Christmas shopping. Not if you're Matt Gray. His family have hardly seen him over the past few days.
“I swapped one match for two,” he laughed. “Too early to start thinking about Christmas anyway! We may not have had a game but two of the teams we're playing over the next few weeks did and on separate days so I did a double header. On Saturday I watched Torquay at Maidstone in the FA Cup and on Sunday it was Bristol as Bromley had their first round game. Of course we wish we were still in the competition but you've got to take positives where you can find them.
It's been a very busy first few months of the season. We gave the players the weekend off and it's allowed them the chance to recharge. We haven't got a big squad, so handling the players is important. It was worth my while watching Torquay and Bromley. Videos are great, they help a lot but nothing beats seeing a team play first hand. You learn a lot and you need to use every opportunity you are given. We've got some big games coming up and we'll be better for seeing them up close, I'm sure of that.”
Gray could do without such a testing run of results so early into his management career. The club have won only once since August, a run that the boss acknowledges as “demanding” but not something he is losing sleep over. So often in these circumstances fingers are pointed. Not at Gander Green Lane. In fact, Gray has only good things to say about his players.
“It's very hard to fault them - very hard,” he adds. “During this run I can honestly say I don't think we have deserved to lose a league game. Especially in recent weeks, and I know that may sound strange. We went up to Barrow and were so unlucky - their manager, with the incredible run they have been on, says it was their best win of the season. That says it all.
We're losing by one goal and my belief is that this will change. When we get that big result, it could turn our whole season. It's about getting it, and being on the right end of a decision, a little luck, or the opposition not having a good day.
This is the most difficult spell I have had since I stopped playing but I do think it's how you handle these type of moments which defines you. How we cope with it is to work harder. The players are unbelievable - they are still the same group they were in August. They aren't down.
I've got to say also the board and directors have been first class, as have the supporters. What is great is that they know and respect this is a transitional year for Sutton United. They know Dos was here a long, long time and things won't just happen overnight.
It's about staying in this league and building. The fans should know we are absolutely committed to climbing the table and getting wins on the board.
The club is united and things will turn, I'm certain of that.”
ONE SIMPLE TEXT CAN BOOST THE MANARAMA CAMPAIGN!
Getting involved with the MANarama campaign as we try to combat Prostate Cancer could not be more straight forward.
Give... donate to Prostate Cancer via text
Go... then bring others into play by sharing on social media with #GiveAndGo.
Donate by texting "MAN £10", "MAN £5" or "MAN £3" (depending on the amount you want to donate) to 70004 & help stop prostate cancer from being a killer. Texts costs £10, £5 or £3 plus network charge. Prostate Cancer UK receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 0800 082 1616. Charity No 100554
FREE MINIBUS FOR YOUR CLUB
To say thank you to the incredible fans and clubs of The National League for supporting our MANarama campaign in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, we're giving a FREE minibus away to one club.
When your club hits £500 they go into the hat! Find your club's page here:
Massive thank you to the clubs that have raised the most so far.
For the latest van leasing deals head to Vanarama.
For the latest car leasing deals head to Motorama.