Monday, 15 June 2015

An Interview with ... Adam Flanagan

It's not long until preparations for the 2015/2016 season start and I grabbed some time with Adam Flanagan, before he begins his first season in charge of Concord Rangers...

What does it mean to you personally to be the manager of Concord Rangers?

Being honest, it still hasn't sunk in yet and I don't think it will until pre-season gets underway.  I feel I have been bestowed with a great honour getting this position (especially with the calibre of the other applicants) and it is one I intend to do well in.

But then, how difficult was it for you to leave Brentwood Town, especially after the successful season you just had?

It was extremely difficult to leave Brentwood as I came into the club when they were second from bottom and through difficult times we managed to get the club promoted.

How was that accomplished?

It was down to a huge collective effort from the management team and players, and a very strong bond was formed.  This ultimately I feel was the reason behind the success and the togetherness we had amongst each other, was very difficult to break away from.
I know the Brentwood players wish me well, as I do them and we all know that in football sometimes opportunities to manage or play for fantastic club don't come along, so when they do you have to take them which is what I have done.

Speaking of successful seasons, Concord have just had the best season in their history.  Is the challenge to replicate that, or would that be asking too much in your 1st season in charge?

No pressure then!! haha
As a manager I am not one to say publicly what I feel my teams may be able to achieve - I keep this between the management team and the players.  I feel this helps to grow the togetherness within the camp which we then take out on the pitch together.  I'm a strong believer that if you put targets in place then you can sometimes get lost becoming too focused on achieving them.  The ultimate aim is to put a strong squad together (which I feel we are doing) and then focus each week on the matches we are due to play with the aim to be prepared and in a position to win every game.  This way there are no limits to what we can or can't achieve and come the end of the season we will ultimately be where we deserve to be.  Tasting success last year was great and is something I definitely want to happen again.

How do you like your sides to play?

I think the style of play is ultimately dictated by the players you have, so myself and Jody will look at the players and come up with a style that best suits the squad and places us in the best position to win.  Characteristics of my teams will be team togetherness, hard work and a never say die attitude which have to be in place if we want to be successful.

Under Danny Cowley, Concord were a very hardworking side and a lot of the players talk about adding that 1% to the game which the opposition have not considered.  Is that something you're looking to maintain, or maybe you're willing to let the players be more creative?

Hard work is a must for me, and there is no truer saying than - Hard work will always beat talent, if talent doesn't work hard.  We will have talented players in our squad so we must make sure our levels of effort on the pitch are to a very high level. In truth I will be looking to put my own thoughts and beliefs into the team/squad which will be new, but generally I feel through my time playing that I know what it takes to win things and that a lot of what Danny believed in, I do too.  So there won't be fundamental changes, just little tweaks here and there, which hopefully as an overall will have a noticeable improvement.

You've added to the squad with four new players so far.  What can each of these lads add to the team?

The new players that have come to the club are coming for football reasons, which as a manager is a big plus.  In Conor, Tom and Sam we have young footballers who want to test themselves at the highest level.  With Max we have a more experienced midfielder who has Conference Premier experience and an eye for goal.

So tell me a little bit more about each of new guys, as I'm sure the fans would like to hear more.

Conor Gough - Comes to us as a young player of the year at Grays - He has had a taste of the professional game with contracts at Charlton and Bristol Rovers.  After a successful campaign at Grays he now wants to challenge himself at our level.

Tom Stephen - Tom has been captain of East Thurrock.  Widely respected as one of the best left backs at Ryman Premier level, and similar to Conor wants to test himself at Conference South level.

Sam Bantick - Sam over the last weekend was selected in the team of the year for the Ryman North.  He was also my manager's player of the year at Brentwood, having scored 18 goals and over 30 assists.  Very enthusiastic young player who will give everything for the team.

Max Cornhill - Max is an attacking central midfielder - He comes to the club from East Thurrock having joined them at the latter part of last season from Dartford where he had played over 60 games scoring 8 goals.

How key to Concord's success will be your relationship with Jody Brown?  What was the reasoning behind bringing him to the club?

If you want to be successful at anything it is critical that you have a strong management team, so my relationship with Jody will be very important.  Jody and myself are both young and hungry for success and in Concord we see a club who has the same ambition to match that of our own.
When I took the role I looked at my areas of weakness and I felt these were player knowledge base and level of coaching. I felt confident from speaking to Ryman league teams and that after a season at Conference South Level I would be ok, but I needed someone who would know Conference South and Conference Premier players.  I was aware that Jody was out of football and that he had been interviewed for the managers position along with me.  My dealings with Jody on numerous occasions whilst at Brentwood had always gone well and I felt he fitted the criteria that I was looking for.
He has managed at every level of non-league and so he has good player knowledge. He also gained a reputation as being an extremely good coach so he was a prime candidate for me.  Jody is coming to Concord hungry having not been given the opportunities he was hoping for at Welling - he has good links to several professional clubs, so he met the criteria I had set.
I won't lie, I didn't think he would come so I was really pleased when he accepted my offer of Assistant Manager and First team coach.  As I've said we're both young and hungry, and I feel confident we will learn and develop over the upcoming season.

What are you looking to get from the pre-season games, is it a chance to get your ideas across to the squad?

Pre-season will be about Jody and myself seeing what we have in the squad.  While we know most of the players, it is nothing like being in around them and seeing first hand the attributes they have.  I expect pre-season to highlight areas of strength and weakness which we will review, but more importantly for me as you said it is a time where we can start to get over our ideas to the squad.

What players in the Concord squad are you particularly looking to work with?

In truth the answer is all of them - every player has to play their role - whether they are starting or having to wait to get into the starting shirt.  At this level I do not believe you can have just a strong 11, you need to have a strong 16/17 and this squad only becomes strong if the players on the bench are pushing those that are playing, and those that are playing then push themselves to stay in the starting 11. I wouldn't have a player in our squad if I didn't feel they had something to offer.

Concord have a small following of fans, however they are very loyal.  Do you have any message for them for the upcoming season?

My message to the fans would be to continue supporting the team as they have always done.  As a player I can tell you having a vocal crowd offering support can make such a difference at this level.  As a management team we will be working hard to put together a strong squad which we will hope will enhance further the attributes they have come to expect from a Concord player.  Changes may occur but we will not lose our identity as this is key to Concord and what makes this club very unique.

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