After the 5-2 victory over Eastbourne Borough in the National League South, I spoke to Chelmsford City assistant manager Nick Haycock.
Hi Nick, good result in the end wasn’t it?
Yeah, I did an interview on Thursday night with BBC Essex because Rod was poorly. And I think it showed today everything that I said in that interview that no game’s a given, there’s no outstanding favourite in the league. You’ve got to turn up and be accountable for your performances. It’s going to sound a bit silly what I’m about to say but I don’t think it was that bad first half but there weren’t enough intensity, I think we controlled the game but got done on the counter attack and I think the referee didn’t really help us and we lost a lot of ground because of the referee’s decisions but that being said, we gave two sloppy goals away and we were right to be booed off. You know, me and Rod are honest people and I think, when it’s not right we will change it and I think at half time between us and the whole management team, we stuck together, we changed the shape slightly and just asked for more intensity and I think you could see second half what this team is capable of doing.
This season, goal scoring has been the main problem with us and this is the first time we have scored more than 2 goals in the league this season. It must be satisfying to finally break that duck and score a few goals as a team?
We know it’s in there, we haven’t signed bad players. I’m not saying everyone has played to the level that we expected and sometimes you get that. Like I said in midweek, when you lose eight players to a higher league, that should be a pat on the back for the club, we worked hard with the players last year and they’ve gone on to higher levels. Then we bring twelve new ones in and it doesn’t gel overnight and now they realise there is a fight for the shirt, there’s a lot of competition for starting positions. I think the goals going in today epitomised the performance, take nothing away from it. I know Lee Barnard didn’t score today but he was outstanding. I think that is what we’ve been missing: someone to take the hits off the centre backs, hold the ball up and give our attacking players a bit more time in the final third and I think when we do that, we look a good team.
Looking ahead to next week, we travel to Bath in the FA Cup. We’ve already been successful there this season. How confident are you we can get through the tie?
I’m confident going into every game, what it is with football teams is what I’ve just said in there. Pep Guardiola done an interview in the week about why he is such a fantastic coach and he said “I’m not a fantastic coach.” What happens is the players come in, we sign them for a reason we know what they’re capable of and we work with them in training and they put it into practice at the weekend. When the players do that we look a great coach, when they don’t do that we don’t look a good coach. The second half performance today is what I saw on Thursday night. What I saw in the first half wasn’t quite what I saw on Thursday night. I think it will always come down to the players, we’ll create the culture on and off the pitch, create the right environment for them to learn and challenge. Lee Barnard still wants to learn at 32 years of age. We can go anywhere and win if we perform like we did second half. That is what the DNA is and the players now know the DNA of Rod Stringer and Nick Haycock team is and we’ve got to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it again and not fall below that standard.
A couple of weeks ago, you brought in Chris Smith from Ipswich Town. How do you think he has fitted in with the squad?
Yeah, I’ve known Bryan Klug at Ipswich Town for a long time. He is a great developer of young players, played many games against him as a coach. Mick McCarthy has been fantastic with Rod in letting Chris come to us and I think he is growing each game. He is keen, young and enthusiastic and I think he looks composed and a good defender. He can’t do any more than he is at the moment but we’ve got eyes and ears out there at the moment to replace Chris Bush permanently but if Chris keeps performing like that, he’ll do himself no harm to get that shirt on for a longer term on loan. That’s something me and Rod talk about and won’t make hasty decisions. We’ve already talked to a few centre backs that we are looking at at the minute. Rod’s been out the last 3 weeks and leaving the training to me and looking for players that will help us improve and that’s what any good management team do when they work together well.
You said about replacing Chris Bush and a few supporters were saying that we have been missing a player like him. Is that the way you see it?
Yeah I think so. One thing about Bushy is he is a great lad, we still speak to him and we can’t stop players going on to higher levels. That is why we need to get this club to the next level. If it happens this year then great. We had a great chat with the owners last week and there’s no pressure on us and I think that is the best thing. They are going to stay with it and will work together on and off the pitch and I think this club can grow and we’re excited about it. Going back to Chris, he was a big part of what we did last year. He had some disciplinary issues with suspensions etc which knows only too well hurt us at times last year. There isn’t many left sided centre backs in the game, let alone at Conference South and I think he gives you a little bit of balance there, bit more experience and a bit more quality dropping the ball into a striker. But Chris has gone, we can’t live in the past and we know where we need to go in the future and we will make the right decisions when we need to.
Have you got any news for the supporters about player injuries such as Jonny Giles and the 12th Man player Shaun Batt?
Yeah, Jonny’s had a knee operation with a week to 10 days post operation and he’s hoping to be back in training in about 6 weeks. With Shaun, he’s been for a scan this weekend, we’re just waiting on the outcome of that. Shaun’s as frustrated as anybody, he’s a great lad, he’s not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes but we need to know how deep the problem is and we can reassess from there. I sympathise with the fans because he is the 12th Man player and I got around to them today to explain it because me and Rod like to work like that with fans. If we had lost today, we wouldn’t have hidden from them, we would speak to them still as we need them onside. Shaun’s as frustrated as anybody, we’re frustrated as we haven’t been able to use him from the bench and maybe in some of the games such as the 0-0s or 1-1s, Shaun may have been the one to come on and score the goals. As much as the fans are frustrated, we’re with you as well. It’s our player that we’ve signed and Rod doesn’t sign bad players. There may be one or two that fall by the wayside during the season but as you saw last year, we try to keep it tight-knit and work work work on the training field and try to put the performances in. But that is the best we have been second half this season without a shadow of a doubt.