Vanarama National League South
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In the latest instalment of this website series, club reporter Liam Drury sat down with Marc McGregor to gather his thoughts on how pre season went for the first team, as well as looking ahead to the opening month.

How do you think pre season has gone? It’s been slightly disjointed, just in regard to trying to get players in at the right time. But if we look at the fixtures and the way the lads have reacted to it, I think it shows that this is the strongest squad we’ve ever had in regards to the depth we have in certain positions. Although I would have liked the players in earlier so that we could work with them more, it’s been okay, and I can’t complain.

You’ve scored 25 goals but conceded 13 in pre-season. What do you think when you look at that? Well, we’ve scored more than we’ve conceded. I’m really disappointed with the goals that we’ve conceded. Obviously I’ve been away for a couple, but I’ve seen all the goals, it’s something that concerns us, and it’s something that we’ll work on throughout the early part of the season. It’s no surprise to us, but what has really pleased me is the way that we’ve attacked, as a team, and likewise, we don’t defend as a back four, we defend as a unit, we don’t attack as a front three, so I’ve been really pleased with the way that we’ve moved the ball forward, but we need to work harder as a team to stop goals from going in, which we will do and that’s part of what we’re going to do over the next six weeks.

Image: Will. T. Photography

You touched upon yourself missing the last few pre-season games. Can you just clarify where you were? Yep, I had to go away. Unfortunately, I’ve got a property in a different country which needed sorting out before I lose a load of money, so I had to go and do that. I used it as a bit of a break, and it allows the players also, which is a good thing, to see how they react when I’m not about because anything could happen and what I’ve heard back from not just other staff members but also people around the ground that they performed really well. The Cheltenham game was outstanding and I managed to watch that, and I’ve seen part of the Bristol City game so I’ve been really pleased with their attitude while I weren’t there.

Are you happy with your squad at the moment, or is there still more to do? There’s still more to do, but we’re just waiting for the right ones to come in. There will be loans, the right loans. There’s ones that we’ve come in for which we can’t have, which is really disappointing but that’s the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with a club who obviously have first dibs on them. It gives us an opportunity to look at other players though, in some cases you may be a bit disappointed but then it may turn out that some of our younger lads get an opportunity early on and then we have to say, that ship has sailed.

Will you be naming a vice-captain for the season? I haven’t as yet. It’s not something that I’m worried about. I’m just worried about getting the players fit and making sure that they understand the pattern of play. It’s something that emerges out of the changing room and I like to give a bit of player ownership. I talk about this quite a bit with the players, and the club, that it’s not my team to dictate, I’m not a dictator, I’m a manager, I want us to go out and play nice, attractive football, attacking football, and that’s my remit. If we don’t do that, then I wouldn’t be here. Other than that, then they have to take a bit of responsibility and look at leaders within because I can’t hold their hand all the time.

Jacob Cane ©Will.T.Photography

Do you think it’s a tough start for you? Well, it’s Wealdstone first up, who are expected to do well this year. We’ve then got Truro, who were outstanding last year. For me, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish and we’ve got to play all these teams twice anyway so I don’t seem to worry about it. We worry internally about ourselves, we always respect the opposition because there are some tough sides in the league this year and not one game is a gimme. We’re looking forward to the challenge, and last year we were probably better against Wealdstone and the better sides. Although we weren’t successful against Truro, I thought we played well in both games, we just didn’t defend very well from set plays.

Have you set a target for the season yet? Yep, just to go unbeaten like Arsenal did, and I think we’ve probably got the invincibles mentality! It’s always difficult to judge because you look at the sides in the league this year, it’s a lot harder than last year. We’ve got three teams who are really investing to come up, and you’ve got two big teams that have come down. Our aim will be to try and get into the National League. After that, it will be Playoffs and a minimum requirement is to be in the league.

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