Start Of A New Era

By Andrew Warshaw

Pre-season is over, the players have been put through their paces by manager Gavin Macpherson and his backroom team and all eyes are now firmly on this Saturday and the visit of Concord Rangers (3pm kickoff) as a new era gets under way.

Concord were relegated from Step 2 at the end of last season and are likely to provide strong opposition at the start of arguably the toughest ever Isthmian League Premier division campaign.

“Pre-season was all about putting down markers and being ready for that first game of the season and where you are trying to be,” said Gavin after a build-up that culminated last weekend with an encouraging win over Grays followed by two training sessions this week.

Renowned for his front-foot philosophy, the first two pre-season outings were about concentrating on how the players worked out of possession, then in later matches switching to how they performed with the ball.

Most of the new signings have been prominent in pre-season but frustratingly we will be without the likes of Mickey Parcell and Ollie Knight for the first couple of games, as well as one or two other key players unavailable through injury, suspension or for personal reasons.

Despite winning our last four warm-up matches, Gavin says the fans need to be realistic about where we’re at on the pitch.

“We are in transition which I know is a difficult word for some supporters. It can translate as this is going to be an indifferent period. I don’t necessarily see it like that but what you’ve got is a different style of playing and there are wide contrasts with the past.  

“I’ve been given the task of coming in and building something that is a little bit different. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally for some of the players to learn a different style of football.”

Dealing with the forced absence of several important members of the squad has not been easy but Gavin and his team are raring to go.

“I’ve been planning on two fronts to be honest. One for the season, the other to get through the first week. If we can come through the latter with a decent return of points, that will be a good start because we will only get better in respect of who will be coming back.”