As the new season gets under way, we ask Reds' boss John Coleman the burning questions ...
ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEW SEASON OR WOULD YOU LIKE A FEW MORE MONTHS TO PREPARE?:
I am pondering on a couple more months but probably not. I think we will be OK. I am quite happy with some of the players I have brought in and would like to bring in a few more before the season starts and hopefully I will. It’s been going well, the lads have trained well and the players have been prepared to work well. There is no point crying over the players who have gone. We have got to concentrate on the players who are here and the players who are here have had good pre-seasons and that’s a reward in itself.
HAVE YOU MADE DECISIONS ON TRIALISTS NOW?:
It has been difficult for the trialists here as we are looking at a bigger picture. We are not just looking for one or two but are looking to rebuild, so a lot of trialists have come playing a lot of other trialists which really doesn’t give them the benefit of how they would fit into our team. A lot of it becomes guesswork. We are at the stage now where, because we can’t have a big squad, we have got a small budget, so any decision we make in regard to signing people means you can’t afford to make too many mistakes or else there is no leeway to improve during the season.
WILL YOU STICK TO THE SAME SYSTEM, 4-2-3-1?:
We have only started working recently on tactics – which probably hasn’t helped the trialists although we have tried to adapt in pre-season games. It is something we may have to consider and be more flexible and adaptable if we don’t get the players in who can play the system. The problem is if you get three-quarters of the team in to play the system and then miss out on a couple of your targets who would complete it, you have got three-quarters of a job so you will have to see if others can fill in and cope with the sytem or have to find a new one.
YOU HAVE LOST PLAYERS BUT IS IT NICE TO HAVE A SENSE OF FRESHNESS THIS SEASON?:
You always have a sense of freshness every season and get a sprinkle of one or two. I would be lying if I said it’s nice rebuilding every year as it’s not. More so this year, this has probably been the most difficult as we released eight – add that to the six that left in the close season and that’s 14 players, it’s a lot of bodies.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE NORTHAMPTON GAME?: I have got a fair idea how they will play, it’s my job to know that. We have started work on Saturday’s game since Monday and work with the players or some of the players who will be involved and trying to get them to play they way we want to play on Saturday. We are certainly going to Northampton to win, we are not going there to do damage limitation. I believe we are a better team than Northampton, we showed it there last year and we are going to do try and do it again this year.
YOU HAVE SET THE GOALS HIGH TO TRY AND BETTER WHAT YOU DID LAST SEASON?:
I am full of confidence, like I am every year, I have got high expectations this year. You have got to believe you are going to compete at the top level. The downside is if you think you are going to struggle and the players adapt that policy and then failure becomes acceptable. In any walk of life, starting to accept failure means you will quickly fail, you’ll quickly go downhill and that’s something we don’t want to happen. You have got to play well all season and adapt the right principles all season.
A good start is important to try and gain momentum but you get the same points in the first game of the season as the last game of the season. You have got to play well all the way though and, if we take anything from last season, it’s to improve our points tally away from home. OK I know we didn’t lose a lot but the draws at the end have cost us automatic promotion, so we need to adapt ourselves a bit more in the away games to try and win them.
Having said that, in a lot of the away games we drew last season, we dominated the games, so you are loathe to try and change a formation when you are having chances and you should be winning. Some may say it’s unfortunate but it’s our job to try and get it right.
YOU AND JIMMY WON’T CHANGE YOUR FOOTBALL PHILISOPHIES THIS SEASON?:
I started off in management 15 years ago and the same set of principles I adhered to then I still adhere to now. I am not going to let outside influences affect those principles, whether it be the players, the fans or the pressure from anyone at the club. My principles remain the same.
IS THE LEAGUE AS strong AS LAST SEASON?:
It’s as strong. Some good teams have come down and a big spending one coming up in Crawley and a good footballing one coming up in AFC Wimbledon. Every point this season is going to be hard fought.
ARE STRIKERS IN SHORT SUPPLY THIS SEASON?:
We are not the only ones who are looking for strikers. In farming they have a dearth of one particular crop; this year there is a dearth of strikers. In terms of players getting released or coming through acadmies, there doesn’t seem to be a lot coming through. It affects us and everyone else. You have just got to use what you have to the best of their ability.
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE BROUGHT IN AS IT WAS A YOUNG SQUAD LAST SEASON?
Yes I am. I am of the opinion that you don’t have to have younger players and don’t have to have older players. It is about getting the right balance and you just have to have players who are good.
IS IT IN ONE WAY GOOD TO HAVE NEW PLAYERS SO THERE IS NO PLAY-OFF HANGOVER?:
It is like a clean slate but we did particularly well last year and you wouldn’t want to change too much but fortunately our hand was forced and a lot was changed without us having much of a say so it’s not a good thing. It’s something we have to deal with and take any positives out of – the positive is we haven’t got a lot of players who are scarred from it.