Charlie Griffin, player-manager of Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division club Cirencester Town, wants to hit the ground running ahead of the 2017/18 season – whatever division his team finds itself in.
Two emphatic wins against a pair of the better teams in the league – fourth-placed Slough Town and the always formidable Weymouth – have seen the Centurions extend their season to the final game after all had looked lost.
The simple scenario now is that they have to beat fellow relegation scrappers Kings Langley away on Saturday and hope St Neots Town, who are safe from the drop, can do Griffin’s side a huge favour by getting three points at Cambridge City in a local derby.
If the results play out like that on the final day the Centurions survive for another season in the Southern Premier, by which time they will be playing on an FA-funded artificial pitch.
Griffin began planning for the new season last week and has already booked two pre-season friendlies.
“I want to do my main squad business at the start rather than the end of the close season,” he said. I know the players who are not coming back and I want eight to eleven of my sixteen-man squad in place two to three weeks after the season has ended. I’d like a bit more experience than I had for the majority of this season.
“We are already booked to play Bradford-on-Avon and Malmesbury Vics in warm-up games and will be back in training in the middle of July and have four training sessions before the first of those matches. I may take the odd weekend away in the summer but I won’t be taking a holiday – there is too much to do.
“The current squad showed me what they could achieve on the artificial pitch at Slough on Friday, so there won’t be any changes in style or personnel simply because we will be playing our home games on a 3G surface.”
Griffin was delighted with the character shown by his squad in their last two must-win games.
“They knew there had to be a reaction after the defeat by Cambridge City and they have come back to beat two really good teams without conceding a goal. I asked them not to leave anything in the changing room and that is just what happened. It goes to show what we have in this squad.
“Players carrying injuries have been going through the pain barrier for me and Matt Liddiard missing a game on Friday seemed to freshen him up because he was outstanding against Weymouth. He’s not the kind of player like Matt Coupe who is a massive talker but he does lead by example.
“We needed a lot of 9 out of 10s and that’s what we got. We were doing the right things in front of the back four as well, stopping teams playing out from the back.
“Kerry Morgan not only gives you real quality but he worked tremendously hard closing people down and Danny Gudger has grabbed his chance with both hands. He brings something I have been looking for, playing off a target man with a bit of pace”.