Gloucester City first team manager Marc Richards is hoping to implement his style and vision into his sides’ pre-season training schedule, his first as manager of the National League South side.
Richards, who has been involved in multiple pre-seasons down the years with City, has looked to utilise his and the club’s relationship with Hartpury College in order to get his side ready for another gruelling season in the sixth tier of English football.
Severn Sport’s Ryan Butler caught up with Richards to see how his preparation for pre-season has gone and Richards was quick to let us know his plans for the new season.
“I’m really enjoying pre-season so far. It’s been really good. Obviously with everyone coming back from holidays it has been a bit of a learning curve for me in some respects. But now we have had a chance to start taking advantage of having professional sessions thanks to the great facilities at Hartpury and the summer programmes.
“We gave the boys summer programmes to do to keep themselves ticking and its allowed us to individualise training programmes for pre-season and beyond, again adding a professional dynamic to how we are running.”
Following the departure of then manager Tim Harris in November, Richards took the reigns for the remainder of the season and steered the Tigers clear of the relegation zone after some testing times.
This is the first summer Richards has had a chance to mould a squad together and it hasn’t gone without a hitch, with the departures of Keiran Thomas & Lewis Hall to Hereford, Ed Williams to Kidderminster and Kieran Parselle to Chippenham amongst others, but Richards praised the departing players for their honest and service to the club.
“It is always hard when moves are rumoured, but especially at this level it isn’t unexpected for there to be departures. Really it’s just a typical summer. But I do have to say that we have had a great group of players the last couple of seasons and they have been quite honest and open with me about any moves and I do thank them for that.
“These players have dedicated a number of years to the club and we have to be thankful for that regardless of what happens. Take Ed Williams for example, he has been with the club for years throughout his time at Hartpury and could have left before. He stayed loyal to us and now the time was right for him we weren’t going to stand in his way.
“We have never and would never stand in any player’s way, if they are looking to progress. Take Lids [Mat Liddiard] for example, a current Newport player recommended him so now he will have his trial period with them. It actually works out great for us as we have an agreement with Newport that he is still available for us. So he trained Monday night and will be available for us on Saturday [against Evesham] and Tuesday [against Slimbridge].”
In the wake of first team departures Richards has looked to strengthen his City side, with the re-signing of Jack Deaman, Adam Page & Mat Liddiard as well as the signing of striker Jake Jackson from Chippenham. Ryan asked Richards just how close he felt he was to having his squad ready for the new season.
“We’re not a million miles off to be fair. We have a few lads training with us that we invited along and they have really impressed us. Now we are all just looking forward to the games, you know for all the training you do and go through there is nothing like getting minutes on the pitch under your belt and we have some friendlies coming up that will give us a chance to do that.
“We have always had a team with players that are 100% willing to die for this club and would scrap and fight for this club and this season is no different. And I’m looking for the boys to be well disciplined and look to replicate the form we showed at the end of last season and in particular the great February/March that we had.
“Obviously we could sign more players if we had a bigger budget but we have limits, as do most clubs at this level. We are fortunate in that we have been able to replace quality with quality and the boys are raring to go.”
With so many departures and the success of the Gloucester City u18s last season, we were eager to ask Richards about some of the youngsters coming through and whether any of them could be fighting for a first team place over the course of the new season.
“Oh yeah, 100%. Last year when the lads came in they did really well and they did really well for the under 18s as well as the loan moves some of them had. This year along with Will [Tunnicliff], Isaac Kelly and Noah [Smerdon] we have Danny King from the under 18s training with us. We did offer and invite Iredia [Ochiago] to come to train with the first team and he had to right to not take that up, but no I spoke to Kenny and Muzzy [former Gloucester City u18s manager Neil Mustoe] about who might be ready or on the cusp so we will be looking to bring them through into the first team.”
Gloucester City play Evesham United in their opening pre-season game at the Jubilee Stadium on Saturday, before heading to Thornhill Park for their Severn Sport Shield semi final match against Slimbridge on Tuesday evening. Ahead of the tournament we asked Richards about Gloucester’s intentions and whether they were in it, to win it.
“The tournament is a wonderful opportunity for the boys to implement what we have installed during the early sessions and for us to see what they boys can do in a competitive fixtures. It’s wonderful to have that during pre-season.
“Being honest, we aren’t going into the tournament desperate to win although any game we play in we want to win. But one thing I’m excited for is that it is a chance for me to see what the talent is like around the county. It is a great chance to take a look at Slimbridge, Longlevens & Tuffley’s players and see who potentially could be worth a look at in the future.”
Gloucester City play Evesham United on Saturday at the Jubilee Stadium, the game kicks off at midday after England made the World Cup quarter finals and the original kick off time was moved.