"Glad to be back!" says Frank
12:00am, Wed 11th Jul 2007
I caught up with Frank Gray and Gerry Murphy in the dressing rooms at Kingfield earlier this afternoon after everyone had come back from training at Merrist Wood.
I began by asking Frank how he?d found his time at Woking so far. ?It?s been very enjoyable and everyone has made us welcome?, he said. ?Of course, the first month or so was very tied up with signing players and letting players go. It?s really nice now to be back in training and preparing for the new season.?
Frank confirmed that training had started properly on Monday and that everyone was back from their holidays. ?We?re training every day this week?, he explained, ?and probably next week too. It?s a mixture of fitness and ball work. Both Gerry and I are involved in the training sessions.?
I asked Frank how happy he was with his squad. With only 16 on the books so far, wouldn?t he need a few more signings? ?I?m very happy with the players I?ve signed. I got the players that I wanted. We?ll need a bit more cover, including another keeper, of course. We?ve got four or five Academy lads training with us and I?ve been impressed with what I?ve seen of them so far. It?s possible that one or more of them might be added to the squad. But we?ve also got one or two players on trial with us.? I pressed him on the size of the squad: did he have a figure in mind and, more to the point, what could he afford, but Frank wouldn?t be drawn on a precise figure. ?I intend to keep it fairly tight?, he replied, ?using a relatively small squad.? He confirmed that he has no more transfer targets at present. He also did not want to be drawn at present on the names of trialists.
I commented that, while fans seemed generally positive about the signings Frank had made, some had expressed concern about a lack of experience. Frank was sceptical about experience if it simply meant age: ?You can have older players who haven?t got as much experience as some younger players. Look at Matt Gray, for example. He?s still young but has bags of experience. And experience doesn?t necessarily mean that you?re a better player. All the players I?ve brought in, though young, have a decent amount of experience at a senior enough level. I?m pleased that I?ve got young, hungry players with good engines and with lots of potential.?
I also questioned Frank on the fact that he?d awarded two-year contracts to many of the players. Didn?t this buck what seemed to be the trend of giving only one-year contracts to new signings? ?I think you have to back your judgment in these matters?, Frank countered. ?These are all young players who we think are going to develop further. What?s the point of developing them and then finding that they leave at the end of the season without any benefit to the Club??
I then asked Frank about his approach to the pre-season games. ?I see the pre-season games simply as part of the preparations for 11 August. I?m not that bothered about the results, although of course it?s good for confidence to win some games. I want to concentrate on team work and getting some shape.? Frank confirmed that, as of today, everyone was fit and available for selection for the first pre-season friendly at Basingstoke on Saturday.
I asked Frank if he had any reactions to the fixture list, including the relative novelty for Woking of having our first game at home. ?To be honest, I don?t take a lot of notice of the fixture list?, he said. ?We?ve got to play every team twice at some stage. Of course it?s quite nice to have your first game at home, though.?
I turned to prospects for the season but I wasn?t surprised to find that Frank wasn?t making predictions: ?I don?t go in for predictions. I don?t believe in that. My aim is simply to win as many games, and to get as many points, as possible?. He said that he hadn?t been set a particular target by the Board ? not so far at least!
I asked Frank, finally, if he had any messages for Woking fans at this early stage in the pre-season preparations. ?I?d ask fans to be patient?, he responded. ?It?s a new squad with a lot of young players. I hope we?ll be playing football in a rather different style to that in the last few seasons here and that the fans will like what they see. I hope fans will encourage the team but we will also be aiming to give them something to cheer about.?
I thanked Frank and Gerry for sparing the time for the interview and wished them a warm welcome on behalf of all Woking fans.
11 July 2007