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Justin's end of season review

Justin's end of season review

Colin Munford17 May 2013 - 07:30
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Millers boss Justin Gardner took time out to discuss his thoughts on the season and his aims for the 2013-14 campaign.

How have you found it at the club in your first full season in charge and did you go above or below your own expectations?

I have had time to think about it now and on reflection it has been a good season for the club. We got to the play-offs which is what I always targeted. I’ll always want to do better, that’s just me though. It was my first year as well in the Ryman One North so I can’t be too disappointed. When I first came to the club there was a lack of confidence and I think that is completely different now. The club has been lifted and now we just have to go one better on the pitch next season.

What did you find as the main difference between Ryman One North football and Essex Senior League where you had been with Bethnal Green?

It’s a much more professional league with better teams. The preparation has to be there as well and you have to watch the other teams you are playing because it is a step up.

In terms of the squad, it stayed fairly similar throughout and that proved to be an important part.

Most players did stay and some of those that did leave came back. A couple of the players turned down moves from teams at a higher level where they wouldn’t have been playing regularly.
One made a sideways move in Jack Stevenson to Tilbury for a month or two but he returned and it was great to have him back. The team spirit we had was great and that played a massive part in what we built.

In terms of the season what was your highlights and lowlights?

We hadn’t had the greatest of starts but I knew we had arrived when we came back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 at Harlow Town early in the season. That gave us the belief that we could do well in the division and proved the springboard.
For the lowlights two games spring to mind – the 4-1 loss at Royston Town in the FA Trophy and the 4-2 defeat at Cheshunt in the league.
It was a crazy couple of minutes which saw us lose out to Royston but the Cheshunt game was unforgiveable where we had three players sent off, I was disgusted by it and those three players didn’t play too much more and that proved a point.

There was a number of games to play late on in the season, do you feel that played a part because there were a lot of players carrying injuries in the final few games?

Everyone went out in the final few weeks and gave it their all. In the play-off semi-final I couldn’t fault anyone of the boys. I can’t blame that, other teams were in a worse position then us. We are a momentum side, there is no question about that. We went on runs of six or seven games unbeaten and then there was a break due to weather or other reasons and that proved to be frustrating.

As you’ve touched upon already the team spirit was great and you felt it played a big part in the season

The team spirit never dropped throughout the season. My assistant Victor Renner played a massive role and Gary Nisbet did fantastic to get the boys in ship shape condition from pre-season. Most of the team stayed the whole season as well but there were never any bad vibes around and that played a part. Everyone had the same goal and we just fell at the final hurdle.

Do you feel you have learnt a lot from this season? Are you looking to change much for the next campaign?

I don’t ever switch off, even during the off season. You have got to keep your eye on the ball and be one step ahead of the rest as a manager at this level. Even when I am on holiday I’ll still be sending emails, text messages and the phone will always be on.
I felt we maybe lacked a bit of experience in the team and I don’t feel the squad needs a massive overhaul. If we can get three or four in on to what we have got then I feel will be up there again. But it will be hard to keep this squad together but I’ll do my best to keep as many as possible.

Next year will obviously be tough but what do you make of the teams coming up and who do you think will be challenging next season at the top?

Burnham Ramblers have a nice little set up and I can see them enjoying a good first year. Of the teams in the division I feel Wroxham will be strong. They have had a good season where they have experienced what this league is all about. Sudbury I can see being strong and the likes of Maldon & Tiptree will be up there again. Teams like Harlow as well could be good as well.

And one final word to the supporters?

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their support they have given us throughout the season, it has been fantastic and all the players appreciate it as well. I will give my utmost to the club to get us challenging at the top once again and it would be nice to do well in an at least one of the cups as well. You fans deserve that and I aim to deliver. Let’s hope we can all be celebrating come the end of the season!

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