All going well for the Lions
Wed 1st March 2017 | Stockport Town | By Ian Templeman
Stockport Town manager Dave Wild insists that his side are under no pressure to continue their great run of form.
Dave took over the managerial reins in early January, and had to build a squad from scratch, but although his new side is now unbeaten in eight games, he is not setting any targets and believes that the best is yet to come.
“When we came in we were about 15-16 points off the play offs but we have had a good run of form”, he said.
“We've beaten Sandbach, we've beaten Charnock, and we've drawn at Widnes when we should have beaten them. If we can do that to the big teams in this league, then give us more time and see where that takes us.
“We are going to hit a bumpy patch. When you lose a game you have to then think is it a bumpy patch or is it just a blip, and that's the challenge I am looking forward to”.
It’s a run all the more remarkable given that Dave had to assemble a team at not much more than a day’s notice for his first game at FC Oswestry Town, and then make various adjustments in the weeks since then, as he tapped into his various contacts around the North West.
“I got the job on a Friday before we played at Oswestry on the Saturday, and I was in London on the day. When I flew back up on the Friday night I knew nothing about what we had”, Dave admitted.
“So I brought in three players for that game, and we had 12 players on the day, some were under 18s and under 21s and we had to dig in because of the situation that had occurred, which let's face, happens in football.
“From that team, I think there's only three or four that have stayed with us and have played regularly since then.
“Last year I was at Maine Road, and the year before that I was the opposition scout at Curzon Ashton when we got promoted to Conference North, and this season up until Christmas I was the assistant manager up until Christmas at Northwich Vics.
“So I had a good 18 months of getting to know players at Conference North or Evo-Stik levels, and a lot of the lads have filtered down from that level.
“But I must also mention lads like Aaron Dwyer and Adam Stubbs the captain, who came from Sunday League football. When I was at Maine Road I took time out watching games and building up a database and network of players, and for those two lads it's their first ever time at semi-pro football and they have been great for us”.
As well as the individual performances from players, Dave also believes that the fact the team is unfamiliar to opponents is also a factor in their good run.
“I'd say I don't really know what my first choice eleven is yet, because the squad is so strong. We beat Sandbach on Saturday with quite a few regulars missing,
“We are lucky in that we are an unknown quantity. We have played 32 games now and we are closing the gap on the teams above, but they have got four or five games in hand.
“What that means is that we have got the points and they have got the games, but at some point they are going to be playing three games in a week.
“We will just be playing Saturday to Saturday and no one will come to watch us unless they send a scout. Now, I've been a scout and it's a tough role and people respect you, but there's nothing like seeing a team with your own eyes.
“So the fact that managers aren’t able to see us play has probably helped us with the run that we have been on”.
One of the most curious points to note about the games Town have played since Dave took over is that only one has been played on grass, with the majority having been played on the artificial surface at the Stockport Sports Village.
Now, with six successive away games, Dave is looking forward to a series of away days with his squad.
“We've had five home games and three away games since I took over and two of the three away games (at Oswestry and Widnes) were on 4G as well. So we have actually only played one game on grass.
“But it's just a footie pitch at the end of the day, and if you can't play on grass you might as well pack it in.
“It's going to bring different challenges (the run of away games), but it doesn't worry me having so many games away from home. In fact it will probably bring the group closer together because we'll be out on the road, and if we happen to keep picking up the points, then the momentum comes in.
“I enjoy away games as a manager, it brings different challenges in different surroundings, and in some places crowds are a bit fiercer, so it will be good for the lads”.
As far as the rest of the season is concerned, Dave is looking on the remaining games as being part of the planning process for next season and beyond.
“The hard work and the positivity around this club now, after that period of the players going and the 10-0 game (against City of Liverpool), has changed the club from where it was and we are going in the right direction.
“The good thing for me, and the players and the staff, is that there are no expectations. When we came in, they'd been walloped 10-0 and hadn't won for five games, and the board said to me to plan for next season.
“We've come in and hit the ground running - great, but let's see where it takes us. I think we are just a bit off this season, it has to be an astronomical run and a big fall from grace from everyone else if we were to go up.
“We've got a five to ten year project, it's not a case of “can we sneak into the play offs, can we go up next year”, because that's not realistic. If you start blowing smoke up people you will quickly become unstuck, and to put that pressure on the players is needless.
“I am 29, I am really happy here and I want to take this club as far as I can. I do believe it has got the set up, the facilities, the board, the staff and players to be an Evo-Stik League club.
“It will take time to build a fan base as it's a new club, but it's positive here at the moment, we are going in the right direction, and for me that is enough right now”.