York City unveiled its new management team today – and they immediately pledged to turn the club’s fortunes round.
Manager Martin Gray, who joins after five years as boss at fellow National League North team Darlington, and new sporting director Dave Penney, vowed to take the team back up.
At their first press conference on Monday (October 2) they said ex-England boss Stephen McClaren was also ready to help revive the team’s fortunes.
So what words of hope did they offer long-suffering City fans?
1. They have one ambition
[arve url=”https://www.facebook.com/theyorkmix/videos/1345700635556685/” mode=”normal” title=”Martin Gray and Dave Penney at their first York City press conference” /]
“It’s a Football League club, this. Our job is to take this club back to the Football League. We’ve got one thing in mind this season and it’s to get promotion,” Martin said.
Dave added: “This football club can get up to the next level – and the next level again.”
2. They’re not planning to hang about
By Christmas City should be firmly established “in the play-offs, challenging for promotion,” Martin says.
“We’ve got to get promotion, there’s no alternative. There’s no point in saying, ‘Give me four months to get this place sorted out’ – it’s got to be sorted out now.”
They have to “get some belief back in the building. It’s all about confidence. And results breed confidence. So we’ve got to get results straight away.”
3. Automatic promotion is still an aim
Only one team gets automatic promotion from National League North.
With City already 11 points adrift of Harrogate Town in the top spot, is being crowned champions still a realistic ambition?
“It depends how well we start,” said Dave. “We’ve got to hit the ground running.”
Martin said: “There’s 90 points to play for. There’s a lot of points to go at.
“We’ve got to make sure that we have milestones throughtout the season of where we want to be.”
4. Expect new signings
They will be bringing in new players “straight away”, said Martin. “We’ve identified certain positions that we’re looking to strengthen.
“We’ll be working very hard this week to get in one, two or three new players in for the weekend.”
5. Meanwhile the current squad must improve
– Martin Gray
6. There’s a fresh start for transfer-listed players
Aidan Connolly and Ben Clappison, both on the transfer list, have a fresh start under the new regime.
“It’s a fresh start for everybody at the football club today. And the players have been told that this morning,” said Martin.
“You will be judged by what you do on the training ground. If you work hard – you get a chance. If you don’t work hard, then you’ll be moved on.”
He said Aidan Connolly, who previously said he no longer wanted to play for City, was ready to play again “100 per cent”.
7. They have a simple message for City fans
“We’ve got to bring the good times back, it’s as simple as that,” Martin said.
“You can fluff around everything, but it’s about getting results, winning championships, getting promotions – and that’s what we need to be judged on.”
8. And the fans are a huge plus
“We have got 3,000-plus fans here. That’s a massive piece of armour for any manager to have in your locker,” Martin said.
9. They aim for an attacking team
“I think people know that at Darlington it was very much an attacking team,” said Martin. “I build the club on trying to keep clean sheets.
“But we’ve always done well on the 4-4-2 formation. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go that way – if we’ve got the right personnel to play other formations, we’ll look at that.
“But we’ve got to get some energy back in the team. To do that we have got to be on the front foot and take our game to other teams.”
10. Fitness is an issue
Fitness levels at the club needed to be worked on “100 per cent”.
“Straight away today we’ve done a bit of work,” Martin said. “And there were some players blowing, and they shouldn’t have been blowing in that type of session.
“That’s got to be identified straight away. It’s our job to get those players in a better shape.”
He added: “I’ll get every bit of energy out of every player – because that’s how I work.”
11. Players need to build up their mental strength
“As a professional you’ve got to cope with the pressures. That’s your job, and you’re judged on that,” Martin said.
“Equally, some players are a little bit more sensitive than others. Between the two of us we’ll quickly identify who needs a cuddle and who needs a bit of a nudge.”
12. Youth team players will get their chance
Players in the youth squad have a great opportunity under Martin. “Youth is a big thing for me. We’ve got to invest in our own kids,” he said.
“We’ll introduce two or three on a weekly basis, on a Monday morning, and get them into that environment of training with the first team.”
13. The chief exec will not interfere
Former York City manager turned club chief exec, Jackie McNamara, will not interfere on playing matters, Dave said
“Jackie looks after the football club – 100%, as chief exec, that’s his job. Every football club has got a chief exec. I’ve come in to run the football side of it.”
14. Better scouting is an ambition
Dave said City didn’t have a lot of scouting at the moment, and he was looking to change that.
“There’s two parts to it. Scouting in terms of going watching your opposition and getting a report back on them so you’re not turning up blind – you know their strengths, weaknesses, formations.
“And then there’s the other side of it, recruitment. If you get the wrong recruitment, then you ain’t going to progress as a club.”
15. Steve McClaren is ready to help
Martin was recommended to club chair Jason McGill by York-born former England manager Steve McClaren.
They first got to know one another at Oxford United many years ago.
“Steve would come into Darlington and do training sessions. My lads would go from being good to being so nervous they couldn’t keep the football because they were overawed at him being around.
“He’s been a good mentor. He’s a top, top coach and a York boy – it means so much to him.
“When I spoke to him on Saturday night, when I first got the nod that this could potentially come, he said this was an amazing opportunity.”
He said Steve “is hopefully going to come in at the back end of this week” and could host some training sessions at York City.
Martin and Dave’s first match in charge will be against third placed Brackley, at home on Saturday (October 7).