Hello all, this is a brief message of thanks to all our fantastic supporters for the way you have got behind the team, especially in recent weeks, which have seen us achieve our top two attendances of the season.
In addition I want to give you an update on how we see the team is progressing and performing.
As you can imagine it has been a challenging season for all of us at the club. On the field especially it has been tough with the upwards move to Step Five (of the NLS) proving to be demanding in terms of the quality of opposition. This has been made harder still due to the unavailability of key players from last season, most of which have included a variety of long term absentees. Unfortunately, over the last 10 games, player availability due to injury and illness has only worsened, which underlines just how well our younger and (currently) less experienced players have done to adapt and perform in challenging circumstances.
Working through adversity and challenge is providing us all with a great opportunity. Opportunity to learn, grow, develop and build important qualities that will provide a great foundation for the team and club in the seasons ahead if we handle it well. The young players who have stepped into the breach, in particular, have made extremely positive contributions to the team. While this might not always have manifested itself in terms of our results, the experiences they will have gained this season will be invaluable to both their own individual football development but also the club’s. We believe these experiences, gained through this tough period have the potential to stand the club in very good stead in the weeks, months and years ahead with us all having a share in the responsibility to ensure a positive outcome is the end result.
As well as the positivity around our young players it’s pleasing to see a few of the players who were the backbone of the team last season starting to return. Ryan Burns made his first appearance of the season last week against Vauxhall Motors, and with a fair wind we hope to have Lee Gale, Sean Doyle and Luke Murray back in the fold very soon.
With our inspirational skipper, Frank Jones having some vital minutes back on the field in recent weeks and the likes of Michael Williams and Chris Cannell now back training it is pleasing to know that we will soon have more valuable experience coming back into the squad in the near future. This will help to compliment our exciting young players while also increasing competition for places, which will in turn raise standards further.
We would, however, be wise to have patience with our returning players, like we have to date with the younger ones, because it might take them a little while to find their feet at this level of football after being out for so long. Managing both the group and individual training & game loads to get the best out of them, without risking recurrent or new injuries, will be a key challenge over the weeks ahead for all concerned.
This weekend’s fixture against Squires Gate will be my tenth game in charge of the team, and while results haven’t always been what we have wanted (and I am sure you feel the same) I am happy with how the players are adapting to a new formation, training structure, coaching group and working practices with everyone beginning to understand their roles within that framework.
Last week against the league leaders I was particularly encouraged by the shape of the side for large parts of the game and we limited a very good team to only a small number of chances, although the ones we did give up to Vauxhall were dispatched ruthlessly. This is something we are addressing as a group. The players, coaches and I firmly believe that once we are performing to the required levels consistently out of possession things will start to improve greatly when we have the ball. We’re not a million miles away, we’re really not.
In closing I just want to say again a big thank you to everyone who attends the Bowl every week to support the team. Please don’t underestimate how much your support and encouragement lifts the players.
We all established this club to give our fantastic Manx community something to be proud of and I sincerely hope you maintain your support through these last vital weeks of the season. Everyone at the club really appreciate your support and it will make a big difference to the players on the pitch each game if the Bowl is bouncing.
So let’s work together to finish the season on a high and make the atmosphere at the Bowl our 12th Man!
All the best.