We caught up with the gaffer again to discuss his first few weeks in management and talk about the Club’s chances for this season.
How have your first few weeks in management gone?
The first weeks in management has felt more like the first weeks in A&E!
No, it’s been good fun, getting through the summer and all that entailed, it feels so much smoother now we are getting into that Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday rhythm.
We have had to think on our feet a lot early on here, with not being able to get through a game or session without an injury. Hopefully the injury gods will be kinder as we move along.
With hindsight, is there anything you would’ve changed about our opening few games?
I think the players would tell you quite a lot! It’s just in our nature to pick at details, and try to make it all perfect. Even during, and after wins, we have tried to correct lots of things. It’s very easy (and common) to just base your analysis post-match on the result alone, and obviously, given our good start, we could blindly pat ourselves and the boys on the back after each game we won.
Don’t get me wrong, credit is given out where it’s due. But we just want to keep on improving. We are still so early on here.
The Fleet game was one where we looked at ourselves afterwards and thought “could we have thrown the kitchen sink at them late on?” We didn’t, and I’d much rather have an undefeated record right now, than having gifted a winner to them in being reckless.
I’m sure we will face similar situations to that again, and each time will have its own merits. It just didn’t feel right that day.
If you could pick one, who has been our standout player since the start of the season?
I’ve been really pleased with how a few of our boys with the less glamorous non-league CVs have shown up in the first few weeks here. Given the injuries we have had (especially in defence), I can’t speak highly enough of how Stuart Baldwin has done back there. I’m sure most would agree, he’s been a pleasant surprise to new eyes on him. He hasn’t surprised me, I expected him to become a leader for us, just not this quickly.
How much of an impact has Liam Allen had since coming in?
He’s been a massive get for us.
I knew he was good. But I don’t think you really appreciate it with goalkeepers until they literally have your fate in the palms of their hands!
I know I echo the players in saying I feel calm with him in the goal. He’s someone the others respect, and I think that’s grown since he’s been in the room. He’s going to really help develop our young goalkeeper Sonny Stiller, and you can’t often say that for senior keepers. We are lucky to have both of them.
Have you been surprised by the margin of some of our wins and is this something we can sustain for the entire season?
Our chance conversion has been pretty high, and I guess the law of averages would say that should come down somewhat over time, but I think it’s the nature of the chances we are making, that are allowing for the high conversion.
We have scored a fair few empty net goals already, and I’m sure our forwards are grateful for the work the others are doing to make that possible.
Going back to being perfectionists, we want to keep repeating what works, and hopefully the players don’t let up. This should lead to more goals, and more entertainment…
How far can the Swans go this season?
We can go as far as these players want to. And so far, I have no reason to doubt in any of their attitudes. We have some great senior players, who will help police the expectations for us. Promotion and cup runs are what we want.
The League Cup in particular could be interesting, as it obviously gives us a chance to play against some Step 5 sides. We have a strong Southall side coming up in that one, so let’s see…
“What have you made of our support so far this season?”
It’s been really good. I thought we could add some to the gate, but with the restrictions at our ground (bar & food unavailable) I wasn’t sure if that would have a real impact.
It doesn’t seem to have touched people’s appetite for coming to see us play, and I hope we have been good to our word so far on providing value for money.
So much of non-league is word of mouth, and I trust everyone to keep spreading it around. Let’s aim for north of 200 on some kind of regular basis. I think that can be done this season. It’s not so easy with some of the clubs in our division not contributing greatly to the number, but at least that gives us a good indicator of who’s coming to watch just us play.
Some old faces have returned, and some have gone as far as messaging me some great messages of encouragement. I can’t wait to actually meet more face to face when the bar eventually opens.
And finally… What’s your Premier League top four this season? (In order)
My Premier League top 4 is as follows:
2 Man City
4 Man Utd
I’m just resigned to this being Liverpool’s time. They have the invincible feel about them, and I think the other teams feel it too.
It will pass, in time, as these things are cyclical…but for now, I can’t see anything stopping them. Man City haven’t done enough in the market to change it, and Chelsea may have too many changes to incorporate whilst trying to keep to the ridiculous pace Liverpool demand of you.