Bobby, it’s obviously a shame to have Tuesday’s game called off. I can imagine, following Saturday’s result, that you’re desperate to keep that momentum going into Saturday.
It was disappointing not to play on Tuesday, but it allowed us to get back on the training pitch, and work on fitness and tactics. So, it was pleasing that we still had the chance to work hard as a group, even on a cold night in a venue given to us at late notice.
How important was it for them to keep the fitness levels up for the weekend?
It’s important to keep that up, but it’s crucial that other things, like team spirit, are maintained as well. We spent a lot of time on Tuesday trying to find a place to train, and that paid off with the hard work that we were able to do.
Also, the training itself from the lads has gone up a notch over the last couple of sessions. Not just the fitness and sharpness levels, but the way they’re playing too.
With that session and the video analysis on Monday, it seems like the level of preparation has gone even higher recently.
Higher isn’t a word I’d use, but we’re heading towards the business end of the season, so, even with things like fitness, our targets aren’t reached overnight. It’s something that we will build towards over the season. We’ve got something to look forward to, that’s for sure.
Building for the future happens everywhere, including training. Everyone knows my standards now, and it just seems at his precise moment that it’s paying off a little bit.
As I’ve said before, my teams normally push now when other teams may get complacent.
Harry said that on the pitch you encourage him to express himself. Is that something you try to get across to all of your players?
As a manager, people see the disciplined side of my teams, but they don’t see the other side where I coach the boys to express themselves. They don’t see how I am on the training pitch, where I encourage the players to keep and move the ball. I’m quite happy about that. I prefer only my players seeing that side.
We unfortunately had to say goodbye to Alfie Rutherford this week. Beyond his excellent performances, how brilliant was he to manage.
It was an absolute pleasure to manage him. A really good lad and a quality player.
He trained with us on Tuesday night, even though he’d already gone back to Dorking and he didn’t have to. That showed just how much he loves playing for us. We’ve promised to work together again in the future. This is one way you build a solid team, by forming close relationships with players. You will always bump into them on some level later on.
It seems to me like those bonds formed with players are crucial for future success.
That’s what I’ve had to do as a manager. Not just with players, but establishing good relationships with managers and board members of other clubs. This is how I have been able to bring in some really good players. Compared to other clubs’ finances, it’s not easy to buy lots of players, so I have to find ways to set up a good squad.
Behind the scenes, a few players are still suffering setbacks. How have they been getting on recently?
Ben Thomson is still a bit of a way off at the moment, but he’s working extremely hard. Max Hemmings is spending a lot of time in the gym now, and I invited Josh McQuoid to Saturday’s game. I’ve stayed in constant dialogue with all of them, which is important, as, being a manager, I’ve got to make sure that all my players are being looked after.
The Slough game felt like a perfect performance. Even a top side, like St Albans City, would take notice of that before facing us.
We played well at both ends last Saturday. People spoke a lot about our second half performance, which frustrated me as we also played well in the first half by keeping shape and not conceding. But then, we were dominant after the break, and we could have won by five or six. We also delivered 15 crosses in the second half. That was the most pleasing part, as anyone who knows me is aware that I keep saying that to win games, we need to put the ball in the box and create chances.
St Albans are absolutely flying at the moment, but what I will say is that we’re scoring lots of goals, and we’ve only lost one game in six. That’s not a bad run!
Harry said that we haven’t lost a lot of games recently, so when we do, like at Tonbridge, it feels like a kick in the teeth.
That’s why we are so down after that result. We played extremely well that game, so to be disappointed that we didn’t win shows that we must be doing something right. That proves just how well we’re moving forward as a group.
One word you’ve been saying a lot is ‘confidence’. St Albans will certainly be facing a very confident side tomorrow.
We’re a confident unit. Even after we lost at Tonbridge, we were confident. There’s still a lot of work to do, but right now I couldn’t be more pleased with what we’re doing. Tomorrow, we will make sure it won’t be an easy game.
But we also need to acknowledge that St Albans are not just in excellent form, they’re one of the league’s highest goalscorers, in joint-sixth place. Keeping them at bay won’t be easy.
Exactly. The league doesn’t lie. They’re doing really well. We’re playing against one of the top teams, so I think, on paper, we’ll be seen as the underdogs. We don’t mind that, but we need to make our ground a fortress. We need the fans to come out in numbers and make some noise. Back-to-back wins at home could put us in a really good position when we face Taunton Town on Tuesday.
We’re certainly not underestimating how good St Albans are. They’ve just beaten Eastbourne Borough, and they are flying. We know it will be a difficult game.
As always, what has been the key message going into tomorrow’s game?
Match the opposition, on and off the ball. We’ve got to stick together and make it really awkward for them. We’re looking forward to this game, but we know it will be difficult, so we need to do what we did last weekend and create lots of chances.