The North West Counties Football League
Published 15th August 2012
....prospects for the season, despite last night`s FA Cup exit, after a busy summer rebuilding his squad and appointing a new coaching team.
Coates has had to undertake a major recruitment exercise over the past few months, and while he expected some turnover, he was taken aback by the scale of player departures.
“We lost eleven players over the summer so we have had a massive rebuilding exercise. We lost five to Padiham, two to Barnoldswick Town, one to Nelson, two out for the season injured and Sam Hayes retired, so that has made it difficult.
“It was a desperately disappointing two weeks after the season finished, when I had players all telling me they were going here and going there. So we had to rebuild, and while it’s not the first time I’ve had to do that over the years it doesn’t get any easier.”
Sharing the burden with Coates have been two new members of his coaching team, both of whom will be familiar to many around the league.
Andy Payton, the former Celtic, Hull City and Burnley striker, has joined as his assistant and man of many clubs, Paul Fildes, has taken on a player-coach role.
Coates explained that each of them has a specific role in the training and preparation of the squad. “Andy and Fildesey have done all the pre-season work and they have done a really good job.
“Andy helped a local side out towards the end of last season and got the bug back, so we had a chat pre-season and he agreed to come on board. He’s got the lads fit and obviously when he tells them to do something, he’s got the respect of the players.
“Fildesey has come as player-coach and put some sessions on, and he looks after the warm up on match days, and I do the one-on-ones with the players.”
Having done the work in recruiting all the new faces, Coates is generally happy with the start his side has made.
“Our start has been somewhere around where I had hoped we would be. We have been competitive, the problem at the moment is scoring goals. During pre-season there was only one game when we scored less than three goals in a game, and in that one we scored two. The goals were flying in from all angles.
“Then against St Helens in the first game we had plenty of chances and didn’t take them. We played some decent stuff at Ashton Athletic where we won 3-1, and we drew 0-0 at home to Congleton in the FA Cup before losing the replay last night.
“We only have about five or six left from last season now.
“It’ll take time to get the team to gel, especially when you have lads who are playing at this standard for the first time. I’ve brought some in from East Lancashire League level who look like they should be good enough to cope with the step up, one or two out of the reserves who have shown potential.
“They have a lot to learn, but they all have a decent attitude and that always gives you a chance.”