WOW, the new season has come round fast!
It seems like only yesterday that Georgie Kelly was sweeping in that promotion goal and 2,500 fans were going crazy in the Gillingham sunshine.
It feels like it’s been a really quick pre-season and it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have wanted.
I’d like to have more bodies in the building. We’ve done everything we possibly could on the recruitment front to make that happen but we still have work to do there.
Opening day is this Saturday and I’m looking forward to it. We haven’t had a home game in pre-season because of the Women’s Euros so it will be brilliant to be back at New York Stadium again.
We’ll train on the pitch on Friday to get used to the dimensions and then we’ll be as close as we can be to being ready for the big kick-off against Swansea City.
Being without strikers Tom Eaves and Josh Kayode is a big blow for us, but at least our other injured lads are back in action.
A couple of weeks ago, it was looking like we were reaching the ‘catastrophe’ stage. The situation is not as bad as it was, not as good as it could be.
All the fit players have trained well and we’ll be as close as we can be to being ready this weekend.
You want to put out your best team for the first match if you can but it rarely works out that way. All the other managers I’ve spoken to have similar problems.
No-one feels like they’ve got their full squad.
The Championship will be difficult, as it always is. I’m realistic but optimistic.
We need to stop worrying about what we haven’t got, concentrate on what we have got and attack it with a smile.
IS Georgie Kelly ready for the Championship? No-one really knows the answer yet.
It’s a massive league and his experience in English football amounts to about 15 minutes in the division below.
It’s going to be hard for our striker who we took from part-time football in Ireland last January but he’s had a great pre-season and has been banging in the goals.
He came back for training in amazing shape.
He’s done everything he can to be competitive.
If he starts or comes on and plays a part on Saturday, the fans need to be behind everything he does because no man could have tried harder to prepare himself for the Champ.
He’ll definitely play a part this season. How big a part is down to him. If you perform, you’re in. No manager doesn’t pick his best players.
He’s put himself in a really good place, a confident place. He’s in a team that crosses the ball and he’s a player who gets himself in the middle of the ‘six’. That might be a good combination.
Good luck to the kid. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Georgie bang in 15-20 goals this season.
I’M in the last year of my contract with this great club. Now isn’t the right time to be talking about a new one.
The chairman has kindly spoken to me a few times about it and I’ve said: ‘Look, let’s just get pre-season out of the way, let’s just get our squad together and let’s just see how we start.’
I don’t believe I’m going anywhere. I just want to focus on playing matters and then I’ll have a coffee with the chairman again.
I LOVE Guinness.
I’ve always liked it but now I know it really is the drink for me.
I had about six holidays during the summer break because, like many other people, I felt like I hadn’t any in about three years because of Covid.
One of them was in Dublin and let’s just say I fully embraced everything about that magical city!
It was the furthest I’ve felt away from my job for a long, long time. Because it was a weekend trip I didn’t get any recruitment phone calls.
When I’d gone to Crete a few weeks earlier I spoke to the chairman quite a bit and to Rob Scott, our head talent-spotter, virtually every day. I spent time trying to convince players to stay and players to come.
My missus, Rachel, headed across the Irish Sea with coach Matt Hamshaw and wife, Kerry, and it was brilliant because it was literally football-free. Even Hammy and I didn’t talk footy.
I love a city bus tour and we did that. And I hit the Guinness big time.
There is so much iron in a pint of it that I consider it a health drink. And it’s so thick that it’s almost like a meal.
As usual, I was wearing black and it struck me just how much my favourite tipple and I have in common: both dark, cool and appetising with smooth, handsome heads.
IT’S a time for looking forward not back but this is my first column since last season and there is a certain player I want to mention.
I didn’t realise how much I missed Joe Mattock until we played his new team, Harrogate Town, in a pre-season friendly and I filled up a bit when I gave him a hug.
Joe gave us brilliant service in his seven years at New York. The parting of the ways came at the right time but it was still a horrendous decision to have to make in not offering him a new deal.
Joe always performed excellently, plus he was a great trainer and brilliant in the dressing room. I find it even harder to let players like him go because I know their worth to the team is greater than what fans see on a Saturday afternoon.
He was like a mini-lieutenant for me. He kept the standards good in training and he was never any problem to me. Any manager will tell you players like that are great. If you can have 22 players of ‘no problems’ it’s a much easier group to manage!
When he didn’t play, he wasn’t bouncing around dancing with joy but he was never disrespectful of my decisions.
He always tried to take information on, and he and Richard Wood played a massive part in Ben Wiles’ development as a young man and a footballer.
The three of them always ‘palled’ around together. Wilesy is, like, the world’s oldest 23-year-old.
What I didn’t want to do was give Joe a ‘charity’ contract where I thought: ‘Look, I’m going to let you have this but I just don’t think you’re going to play.’ 1) He didn’t deserve to be treated like that and 2) he deserved to continue playing somewhere.
Sometimes it comes to a stage where you want to improve the team and tough decisions have to be made. Joe left at a time when the fans could still really appreciate his contribution.
He’d just played a part in another promotion and a cup win at Wembley and it’s always better to go out on a high than it is on a low.
I’ll always stay in contact with him.