The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier
Published 7th August 2012
....about the pre-season preparation games as well as his development of the squad.
Less than a fortnight to go before the start of the league season, Sullivan reflects on a tough pre-season rota and his desire to see the team play positively on the pitch and for the club to do the right thing off it.
“Being brutally honest last Saturday’s pre-season against Coalville Town was as tough a pre-season game as any. We started well but the game became a physical battle and there were a few questionable things going out on the park.
“I was very conscious of the fact that our league season starts a week on Saturday and it’s when games like this become physical where you fear injuries and I was just happy to get all of our lads through the game. In hindsight it was possibly a blessing in disguise as there will be times in this campaign where players will need to remain disciplined mentally, not just in a footballing or tactical way.
“Our disciplinary record over the last couple of seasons was not great, and I myself when I was a player used to get frustrated on the park and let things get to me and this is something I want my players to benefit from my experience and that was put to the test in the last game.
“I wouldn’t do an referees job but I am a full advocate of the respect campaign and as much as I’ve been perplexed by some decisions this summer I think we have learned in so many ways in these games how to step back and take decisions on board and just get on with the game.”
“Looking at the bigger picture, we have progressed as a squad this summer. Yes, we have made changes and shed a few players along the way but we are starting to play the way I believe will make us progress in the league and win us some friends by the way we play the game.
“We played at Bootle, a very strong North West Counties League side last week, a team who I and many others believe will do well, but we managed to play good football for long periods of the game and pass the ball and score goals in the process. That’s what we’re looking to do this season. We want eleven men out there who are going to work hard for each other, work hard for the team and play busy and bright.
“We have brought in players that have given our team a lift and this is down to a lot of hard work by the clubs committee and my coaching staff.
“The committee took a lot of stick last season because of things off the park restricting what we could do on it. Money at any level is hard to come by and it has been difficult to get players in who want to play for very little of it.
“We’ve retained a good core of players and the committee have upped the budget and enabled me to bring in players who I believe will make us much more competitive this season.
“It couldn’t be much worse than last season, but I expect us to make an impact this campaign as we are looking to bring the pride back to the shirt.
“A massive player for us this season will be the likes of Aaron Bowen. He will be looking to step up to the plate this season and really make himself stand out as a potent striker at this level.
“Joe Gibiliru - what a signing he can be! He’s flying in training and hungry to play, while the likes of Lee Atherton, who is an experienced Lairds icon, will be invaluable and our captain John Riley, who is honest as the day is long and gives his all.
“Then, of course, are the players we have let go, our club president Arthur Parker once told me that if I wanted a friend in football to go and buy a dog. As a manager my remit is to let players go who I don’t believe will make a difference for us this season and whilst that’s been hard, I have let a number of players go but all in all, as we approach our final pre-season game at Flint Town on Saturday I’m happy with the way our squad is taking shape.”