Maidstone United F.C. Pre Season 2015/2016 Report
Maidstone find themselves in a new division after winning the Isthmian Premier League last year. Changes have been made around the club, including the introduction of a new manager. These are the events of my first month in charge.
Initially I thought we needed to strengthen at the back and upfront, but knowing what players are like at this level, we needed a bit more depth to cover any injury crisis. I didn't want to make too many signings because I believe in the current squad, but it's important to have a good squad of around 25 players going in to the new season.
Adam Tann - somewhat of a Championship Manager legend, Tann is my first signing this season. With only club captain Steve Watt and Manny Parry as our starting centre backs, we needed to bring in some new blood as Watt will not be able to play every game. Tann is an experienced defender who can easily rotate with Watt, and has great mental stats for this level. Perhaps he is lacking in a bit of pace though...
Marvin Ekpiteta - ...which can be made up for by this man. Marvin Ekpiteta was not on a full time contract at Chelmsford, so I opted to sign him as our fourth central defeder. Being only 19 years old, he has some decent physical attributes for the National League. The coaching staff think he might only be suitable for the Isthmian League, but I believe he has the ability to do well att his level
Shae Yates - The other area we needed new blood was in our striking options. Whilst Frannie Collin will undoubtedly start the campaign as our main striker, I'm not convinced that Jay May, Adam Birchall and Alex Akrofi will all fit in to the system I want to play. I would like my striker to be mobile, run in to the channels and be able to beat defenders with their pace. I believe Shae Yates has the ability to do this. In his first pre season game he did net a hat trick which is pleasing to see, but is currently out injured for 4-5 weeks.
Junior Konadu - Konadu joins us as another rotation option in midfield. Joe Healy is easily the best midfielder in the squad, but given the number of games we'll play we need more depth. Konadu started relatively late in his life (his first season was 2009/10), and can list the likes of Boston United and Macclesfield on his playing career.
Brazilian flair comes to the Gallagher - Vieira signs.
Magno Vieira - maybe the best signing I make this summer, Brazilian midfielder Vieira will occupy the "no 10" role in behind Collin on the opening day of the season. Remarkably, Maidstone is Vieira's 11th club in his career, and he's somewhat of a Conference journeyman. He also brings some League experience with him, having played for Wycombe and Barnet in League 2. I think this lad is going to be crucial if we're to have a good season.
Pa Saikou Kujabi - this is a somewhat of an odd transfer. We don't have too many fullbacks at the moment, with our only left back being Tom Mills. Kujabi was signed to try and bring some competition to Mills, but he does not have a work permit. We have still signed the player and are trying to get him a work permit. It's a shame because I think Kujabi could do very well in the side, and he's also an international player for Gambia.
Sergio Sanchez - Sanchez signs as a utility player for us this season. Not too much else to say about him other than he's a product of the West Ham youth academy. He's been without a club for 5 seasons now - will he adjust in to life at the Gallagher Stadium?
Donovan Simmonds - we also needed a new right sided winger to provide some competition for Matt Bodkin. Simmonds has electrifying pace for this level, but he could use some improvement in his delivery from wide areas. Bodkin will likely be first choice to begin with, but it will be interesting to see who ends up first choice during the course of the season as I feel they are both as good as each other. Like Vieira, he is also a Conference journeyman, having played for Dover, Chelmsford and Bishop's Stortford, along with a spell in Scotland with Kilmarnock.
We're now pretty set for the season that lies ahead. It is a bit of a large squad, and I expect to lose a couple of players through to injury, and also just leaving the club due to not getting any game time. That's just how it is at this level, as in real life the likes of Frannie Collin have gone out on loan to other clubs to get game time.
Pre Season Friendlies
We had a pretty good pre season, winning 5 games from 5. The win against Bromley was particularly pleasing given they are a division above us (despite both goals coming from penalties). Our 6-0 demolition of Chatham shows how far the club has come in the part 4 years. We now go in to the season with confidence and on the back of a good winning streak. Let's just hope we can keep it up.
Tactically, I'm not playing anything too crazy. A simple 4-2-3-1 with wide players looking to deliver the ball in to the box. The overlap will also be used as Driver and Mills are good at getting forward. I believe in our wingers to get goals this season, and you can see that Flisher, Taylor and Simmonds all scored during pre season. I'm trying to get the players to play a simple short passing gaming. Ball retention is key for a new team and I don't want the squad to get tired chasing the ball around for 80 minutes. We'll look to control the game everywhere we go, and I think the lads are capable of upsetting the odds this season.
Speaking of the odds, the bookmakers have us at 80-1 to win the league this season, which suggests that they expect us to go back down. I've told the board we'll finish comfortably mid table. In past games with Maidstone, I have raced through the leagues to the Premier Division which results in over-expansion and not having the finances to back it up. Slow and steady progress would be ideal as we (hopefully) adjust to League football in time.
We start off the league season with "El Plastico" - an away match at fellow 3G pitch users Sutton United. The Stones won this game 2-0 in real life. I hope we can better this result. See you all at the halfway point.