A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in the clubhouse on Tuesday night for our 'Meet the Manager' evening. Chairman Paul Gregory and incoming management staff David Chadwick and James Wightman joined supporters in the clubhouse to discuss our plans for the upcoming season.
Here's a roundup of some of the questions and answers that were given on the night:
DC - David Chadwick
JW - James Wightman
PG - Paul Gregory
Q. What do you know about Colls and our supporters from your time as a player?
DC - I’ve played here many times over the years - my first ever sending off was actually here at this stadium! What I’ve always noticed is the friendly atmosphere amongst you, the fans. It's a real family atmosphere and a really good community club. You’re honest people, there's no airs and graces and I hope I'm a reflection of that.
Q. Can we have an update on the squad and signings?
DC - I can be as honest as I can without naming names. When I came in, I was left with three players. That is what it is and now it’s time to rebuild. Right now, there’s fifteen players coming in. Out of those, seven are trialists but the others I expect to play a big part in next season. I’m currently talking to three more and hope to have agreements in place this week.
The squad’s building, but it’s still very early. A lot of players only become available at the beginning of August, so that's something we have to bear in mind. But we want to get a nucleus of a team together now and then we can build from that.
Q. Are you mostly going to be focused on playing defensive football?
DC - No, but it’s important to have a blend. For me, you need a core of big, strong players. In these leagues teams are very direct and they’re big lads, so you need to compete with that. But you also need pace, skill, you also need to be fit and able to work hard to compete against strong players.
Q. As a smaller club, we get looked down on by a lot of teams we play. How important is team spirit going to be this season?
DC - Togetherness in the dressing room is vital. If we’re not all pulling in the same direction, you’re on a loser straight away. You grow up with that winning mentality in the dressing room, teammates working for each other through thick and thin. When you get beat 1-0 in the rain away from home, the person next to you should be there pulling you along.
JW - When I was with Curzon, we had the lowest budget and were one of the smallest teams in the league. We were laughed at, but we went to Gloucester, Chester, Brackley and got results against players on triple the wages.
That all comes from the training ground, grafting and having players buy in. They’ve got to take part, understand what goes on and where it comes from. We know what we want and where we want to go. It might take us a bit longer to get there, but there’ll be no one laughing at us when we do.
Q. We’ve had a link in previous seasons with Bolton Wanderers and players coming here on loan. Is that something you’re looking to continue?
DC - Certainly, as long as they're good enough. I’m in contact with Matty Craddock, the Wanderers B Team Manager. We’ve got a player Bolton have released coming here and that’s because of those connections. Bolton are coming here in pre-season and that’s because there's a really good link here and they know the club will look after them.
Q. When will you be announcing the new players joining?
DC - When you announce players, it puts them in the spotlight and that’s when other teams come in and poach them. I’ve seen it happen to other clubs so we've got to be careful. Realistically, we can’t offer contracts for all of these players, but if they’ve given me their word they’re coming, they’re coming. We’ll wait until July, when the players come in and that's when you’ll see them.
Q. You know what we expect of you as a manager but what do you expect from us as fans?
DC - All I want from you is honesty and to get behind the lads. What I’ve seen here in the past is that win, lose or draw, you applaud the players off and in the bar after the game, the players aren’t afraid of coming in, saying hello, having a drink. That’s the way it should be. I just want you to be yourselves, and back the players like I've seen you do.
Q. Other managers have had complaints about the pitch here in the past, is that something you’re concerned about?
JW - When you’re punching above your weight, teams are always going to look down at you. That’s motivation for us, players, fans, everyone. If people talk about the pitch, so what? We want to make this place our fortress. If no-one else likes coming here, so be it. We don’t want people to enjoy coming here. We want our players and fans to enjoy it, play football and put smiles on people’s faces.
DC - There's eight teams who play on 4G pitches in our division. They've got to come here and try and replicate the way they play on our pitch. You can pass a ball on any pitch, you can run on any pitch. A lot of volunteers work hard on the pitch and give a lot of time and players and management should appreciate that.
Q. You’ve worked with academies in the past, is the youth setup something you’re going to be using here?
DC - Definitely. I think we have to. There’s got to be progression. The players have got to be good enough, but you’ve got to give them that chance. If someone’s playing well for the u18s, we’ll bring them to training, take a look at them and test them. If they’re not quite ready yet we might loan them out to other teams. If a player's good enough, age doesn't matter.
Q. In the past we’ve concentrated more on the league and not placed much importance on cup runs, is that something you’re likely to do?
DC - I want to win everything. I’ll never go into a game and not want to win. We know we’re not going to win every game, but every game I’m going to go out confident that we’ve got a chance of winning it. We want to go as far as we can in cups because that breeds confidence. At the end of the day, we’re here to win.
Q. Previously we’ve operated with a small playing squad, do you have an ideal squad size in mind for this season?
DC - In my mind, I’d like a core of 16 players with a few younger lads who are maybe going out on loan, picking up games that you can pull in when needed. With our budget, we're not in the position to have people sat in the stands picking up wages, but we have got some really good young players coming in already and we're hoping to keep hold of them.
Q. In the last couple of seasons the club has narrowly avoided relegation. Is the ambition to stay up this season?
DC - We've got to aim high, we can't be satisfied with fifth-from-bottom. I want to aim for mid-table and safety so we can enjoy ourselves.
PG - We want to finish as high as we can. Last season we should have finished higher but for whatever reason, we tailed off towards the end. We're ambitious, we want to go as far as we can in every cup competition, we want to stay in this league as an established team, not a team that's struggling every season.
Q. Our away following has grown massively in recent years. Is there any plans to increase our home following?
JW - It's the responsibility of the staff and the players to get people excited about coming here on a Saturday to watch them. We might not win every game but we want the players to work hard, and create a bit of buzz and excitement. It's the players stage and that's where they shine. It's up them to show you and then people will come.
Q. Finally, what are you both looking forward to ahead of the season?
DC - San Miguel behind the bar! I'll have to try a pint of Skuna as well, of course.
JW - Away days. You can't beat a good win on the road. I'm looking forward to them, all of them!