That 4-0 win was a great way to end the season. What were your thoughts on the game today?
I thought for an hour we were poor and especially in the first half. I’ve not seen us that bad for a long time really. I said throughout the season that our team is based on intensity and desire and that was woefully missing in the first half. It was not a team that I wanted to associate myself with. Macca and I got stuck into them at half time and got rid of any excuses. People may say it’s the last game of the season but there is always something to play for – personal pride and the badge on the shirt. I’m pleased the boys responded in the second half and after we went 1-0 up we were clinical with our chances. I thought Travis was excellent and it’s good way to round off the season. We’ve finished eighth and you would’ve taken that at the beginning of the season. It’s now my job to keep these boys together and start next season well.
The game sparked into life for us when you made the double substitution and switched the formation. Was that something that was pre-planned?
We started as a 4-4-1-1 and they were more of a 3-5-2, I felt that sometimes if you’re not at the races it’s good to match them up and give each player the responsibility to win their individual battles. The change switched us on and every one knew their role in the team and we won the battle to get the three points.
It was another clean sheet today as well, is our solid defensive form something that we can carry through to next season?
Defensively we have been sound this season and we finished with the second best defensive record in the league – that’s a huge achievement. We have a good defensive unit here and it’s my job to keep them together. Sometimes you watch and feel that our boys are caught out but our fullbacks are quick and hungry to get back in. We have a real determination in defence and we need to try and maintain that. Going into pre-season with a group of players who know how I work is really important and will be completely different to this season.
The determination of the team is something that really stood out in that second half. We saw some excellent recovery runs and willingness to not give up. Are these the qualities you’ll be looking for when bringing in new players?
The minimum requirements are that the boy’s work hard and want to play in a team that I manage. At the start of the season people thought I was moody and they thought I was never happy in my interviews but at the end of the day I’m the manager and I set the standards. If my standards are sloppy then I can’t expect the players to go on the pitch and have good standards. All season I’ve been criticised by opposition dugouts and fans because I look smart. I feel that if you look smart, you feel smart and then play smart. I’m front of house and if I look a mess then my team is going to be a mess. These are the little things that I look to. It might be the case that some people in the non-league game may not have been professionals, but I have and I know what standards that I want to have. If players want to come into an environment that is geared towards success then those are the standards I expect.
That was the last game of the season and what’s next for you now? Do you have some time off or do preparations for next season start now?
Preparations for next season start now. I’ll meet with the chairman over the next few days and have a debrief with him looking at what’s gone well, what hasn’t and what we need to improve on. I have to say that this club has had to navigate some really stormy waters this year, in terms of what happened last year, the FA fine, changing room improvements – a lot of money had to be found this year to make the club sustainable. We’ve done that on a budget that has put the club under no financial pressure this season. The club is now debt free and is in a place to move forward. We have to credit the Chairman and the board for this especially as we don’t have someone pumping money in. I said when I took the job that I wanted to do it the right way and build something that is sustainable. This hasn’t changed for me and I’m here for the long term so hopefully we get some of the boys to re-sign and continue to build on and off the pitch.
Two goals for yourself and all round great performance today. What are your thoughts on today’s game?
On the goals, it was great to get two today especially as I’m a winger, but on today’s performance, the first half wasn’t quite on the mark. We were on the back foot a bit and didn’t start at 100% and that’s something we pride ourselves on. At half time we had a dressing down and a kick up the behind, we came out for the second half and put our foot down on the pedal and took the game to them. A 4-0 win is a good way to end the season and I think we did the fans proud.
Throughout the game, you switched positions a number of times. Whether it was as winger, forward or wing back and do you think your versatility is an asset to the team?
Yeah, most definitely. I would say I’m winger but I can play as a striker too. When it comes to doing a job for the team, I know Nikki can put trust in me to play those kinds of positions and I’ll be able to do a job.
The first switch of position came just after half time and was that something that was discussed during the break?
We didn’t know at half time but the manager saw something and made the tactical switch. He noticed that they were playing three at the back and over running us in midfield so I think he made the choice to match them. Once he did that we got the better of them and I got my two goals as well.
We’ve seen through out the season that you’re a real fans favourite here at The Tanners, does the supporters cheering and songs have an impact on your performance at all?
They definitely do and, as I’ve said before, I love the fans here; I love the energy that they bring. As a player, sometimes you think you’re not doing well throughout a game but they will give you an extra boost with their support. It’s a real help and they’ve been great throughout the season.
It’s been a long and hard season and do you have any standout moments?
Today could have been one and maybe I saved my best for last. The Enfield game at Fetcham Grove and Haringey away were great performances but the real stand out for me has been playing with these players. This is a family club and I said to the boys in the changing room that this really feels like a second home.