Filed under: News
This close season has been a period of considerable change, so here’s a comprehensive update of what’s been going on around FC United this summer.
Brief Summary (as an appetiser or for those who haven’t got time to read it all)
Margy’s got a new job at MANCAT
Phil Power will be taking on extra responsibility for the reserves.
Darren Lyons will be leading our youth development.
Tony Cullen to remain with the first team coaching staff.
New Goalkeeping Coach – Karl Lineghan from Bradford Park Avenue.
New Youth Team Manager – Peter Freakes.
Farewells to Loz Greenhalgh, Garry Vaughan, Chris Simms and Gus Wilson.
News on what’s happening to our youth and reserve set ups.
List of last year’s players who will be staying and goodbye to those who’ve gone.
We have made some changes in the structure of our youth set up which we believe will benefit the club in the long term. Contrary to widespread rumour we will be keeping both our MANCAT and Sunday youth teams next season plus there will be two more teams running out in FC United colours as we extend our MANCAT links to their British Colleges team and their women’s’ team, more information on these developments will follow as the season unfolds.
Each season we review the structure of the club to see if we can do things better and more efficiently; this includes player development and club finances. One of the fundamental differences between FC United and many other clubs is that we are funded by our members and supporters that means, contrary to popular opinion, we are by no means a rich club; although you could argue we have riches far in excess of mere money. Tough financial decisions have to be made and one downside of 3 promotions in 3 seasons is that each new league brings increases in costs. Unfortunately, our income remains fairly static and will stay that way while we’re groundsharing.
Last season’s successful creation of a link with MANCAT saw their youth team become champions playing as FC United in the Football Conference Youth League. This link has now been strengthened as Karl Marginson moves on to the MANCAT staff. Karl’s temporary contract working with FC United’s community programme came to an end this summer, he will continue to do some community coaching for FC but his main focus will now be as Head Coach for the MANCAT academy’s A team, which is the FC United team. “I know it ruined some of the fans’ songs when I gave up my job as a delivery driver, “Margy joked “but I’ve loved doing community work for our club. Now I’m really looking forward to a new challenge at Manchester College” (the new name for MANCAT). He continued, “Manchester has always been a hotbed for football and there’s a wealth of talent yet to be unearthed. I’m hopeful that having a hands on role with the young players at Manchester College can only benefit FC United.”
The College team provides an excellent base for our youngsters, because they get the opportunity to concentrate almost full time on their football and fitness. However, we also wanted to keep our Sunday team who play in the tough North West Youth Alliance League, because we wouldn’t want to restrict access for potential young players to include only those who choose to study at college and are free on Wednesday afternoons, which is when their games are played. The changes we’ve made to the Sunday team mean we say a sad farewell to Chris Simms, who played for the first team in our inaugural season and went on to manage the youth team for the following two seasons and to his assistant manager, Gus Wilson. Their departure is no reflection on the excellent job they’ve done with our youth team, several of whom have graduated to the reserves and even first team.
We’re delighted to welcome Peter Freakes as the new youth team manager. Peter’s playing career was cut short at the age of 27, so he went on to coach and manage the Greater Manchester Fire Service, whilst having a number of coaching and managerial roles with the likes of Castleton Gabriels and Salford City alongside his fire service job. He’s also been at Chadderton, Oldham Town, Chorley and Trafford. In 2002 Peter set up Manchester Youth, which has been very successful, winning the Manchester County Cup and the well-regarded Yorkshire International Cup in 2006. They also represented England in the Copa Catalunya in Barcelona. Peter will be helped by First Team Coach, Darren Lyons, who is taking on a supervisory role looking after our Youth set up.
We look forward to seeing the next batch of youngsters making their way through the ranks, so good luck to our youth teams in the new season.
Despite their second successive Championship, it was with a great deal of regret that we concluded the reserve team wasn’t really working for the club as a whole. This was brought home to us during last season when we had injuries to key players, but it was too much of a step up for some of our reserve players to fill their boots. We knew that was only because they had been playing at too low a level, but as the first team keeps advancing season on season the gap to leagues that will accept reserve teams remains too large. Manager Karl Marginson needed to find a better way to get experience for our reserve players. “We always need to have some reserve players, so I never wanted to break up the team,” Margy said “but we couldn’t keep them playing in a league that wasn’t helping them. We’ve got some talented players in our reserves and we want to give them every chance of breaking into the first team.”
A couple of ideas were investigated, but we felt the best option was to send our reserve players on loan to clubs that can give them a more testing time. Margy explained, “We must be careful not to stand in the way of players moving on to do the best they can for themselves and it wouldn’t be fair to keep them in our reserve team if they can achieve more somewhere else. It’s always tough to let players go, but sometimes I have to be cruel to be kind.” Players are allowed to be registered with two clubs if they’re in different leagues, so we offered the players from last year’s reserve squad the chance to sign on for us in the UniBond as well as helping them to find a place to play on loan in other teams, particularly in the North West Counties Football League. Responsibility for overseeing this process has been given to Assistant Manager, Phil Power, who will keep an eye on our loan players while carrying out his normal scouting duties. That way we can keep most of our reserves in the family, while also giving them more freedom to grow outside.
Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to last season’s reserve team manager, Loz Greenhalgh who has been appointed as Assistant Manager at Bacup Borough and his assistant, Garry Vaughan, who is now Assistant Manager for the reserve team at Trafford. Loz has linked up at Bacup with FC United’s former goalkeeping player-coach, Phil Melville. This has given us the opportunity to loan players to Bacup Borough, knowing that they will be in good hands with Bacup’s well respected manager Brent Peters and our two old boys. Quite a few of our reserve players will be registered with us for the UniBond League and with Bacup in the NWCFL Premier Division (that’s Div 1 in old money, but they’ve renamed the NWCFL divisions since we were in it). Those who’ve already agreed to this deal include the following who you might have seen in and around the first team: goalkeeper, TonyTompos; midfielders Warren Collier, Matty Hampson and Jamie Rother and forwards Lee Ellis and Martin Cosgrave and they’ll be joined by a few others from last year’s reserve squad.
Some other reserve players are spending pre-season looking at alternative clubs, but they could also be offered the same opportunity to sign on UniBond forms for us, so long as they’re not at other UniBond clubs. Others have moved on for various reasons including forward Gary Edwards who left towards the end of last season, plus defenders Dominic Stockdale, who has moved to America on a scholarship and Mike Sacks, who has relocated and therefore signed for North London based team, Wingate & Finchley, in Division 1 North of Ryman League, equivalent to our league last season. On a positive note, Margy is delighted to announce that reserve players defender Adam Turner, midfielder Kyle Harrop and forward Danny Allen will step up to join the first team squad full time next season, showing that the progression route is still there for players to make it all the way.
We wish all our reserves and former reserves every success next season.
When we started this journey with FC United in non-league football, we were advised by AFC Wimbledon fans not to get too attached to our players as they come and go. This close season seems to have been particularly tough in that respect as we’ve said farewell to some of the fans’ favourites. Josh Howard opted not to re-sign and we understand he’s now joined NWCFL Premier Division club, New Mills, while Stuart Rudd has gone to Bradford Park Avenue after being released by Karl Marginson who said, “It’s one of the hardest things in football to have to release a player, but I know that it’s my job to make these tough decisions for the good of our club.” Rory Patterson not surprisingly chose to accept the greatly increased money on offer from Bradford Park Avenue and Nicky Platt decided to try his hand at a higher level after getting an offer from high flying Conference North club Stalybridge Celtic. Dave Swarbrick is currently training with Lancaster City and we believe James Holden is training with Barrow.
Following the changes to the reserve and youth team set up, Margy has decided to reshuffle his coaching staff. Margy explained “During last season we brought Tony Cullen in to help us with coaching the first team squad, which proved very successful, so that’s freed up my senior coaches to take on some additional responsibilities. Phil Power will be keeping an eye on our reserve players who are loaned out to other clubs and Darren Lyons will be taking on responsibility for all the youth development. I’ve also brought in Karl Lineghan as a goalkeeping coach, because we could see our keepers needed a bit more individual coaching.” What Margy didn’t say, was that Karl’s acquisition was a real coup, because he’s an experienced general coach as well as a specialist goalkeeping coach and with a footballing career that included League level, he’ll be a valuable addition to our backroom team. Bradford Park Avenue must have been sorry to lose him.
After pre-season training when Margy has had a chance to look at the players in some friendlies, we’ll be able to announce the full squad for next season. However, unlike many non-league teams, we have, as in previous seasons, retained most of our first team squad. The following players from last season have already agreed to sign on for next season:
Micah Bleau and Rob Howarth are back in training and Dave Swarbrick is currently training with Lancaster City. Along with these old hands there are the new additions of Carlos Roca, Kyle Wilson and James Brackenridge, everything looks set for an exciting new season in yet another new league. Come along and enjoy the ride.
09-07-2008 at 18:23
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