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BOARDROOM UPDATE FROM DAVID WILKINSON

17 January 2016

First notes from the Boardroom following Nathan Jones's appointment

Good afternoon everyone, a very warm welcome to Kenilworth Road, and a belated Happy New Year from your Board.

Today we greet Dave Doggett, Shaun Derry and all the officials, players and supporters from Cambridge United. 

The U’s, like us, are around mid-table at the moment and like us have not come up to early expectations, but there is always a little extra spice when we play each other so let’s all hope for a thrilling afternoon of football.

What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were flirting with the top of the table and John Still was firmly ensconced in the hot seat. Richard Money had just taken Cambridge to Old Trafford and seemed secure in his position. Now they have both gone and the challenge begins again for the new men. 

A New Year, a new manager and a new challenge.

Today we are all delighted to welcome Nathan Jones for his debut as our new manager. We hope he enjoys his time here and we wish him every success.
 
As in previous cases, there was a painstaking selection process. 

When John Still left there were lengthy discussions about the kind of replacement needed and advice was also sought from football contacts both from within and without the Club and it was concluded that we needed to find the right man to realign our football strategy and playing style in order to meet our ambition to rise to higher levels.

135 applications were received for the position, some serious and some not, from a wide variety of people with a wide range of experience. A large number were rejected quite easily and the list was whittled down, eventually, to a long short list of some 10 candidates. Some potential candidates were also considered who hadn’t applied and all were eventually reduced to a shorter short list. 

After Gary had undertaken the initial interviews the whole Board, or at least as many as were available, had the opportunity of presentations from the top candidates and their views were sought before making the final proposal.

Nathan came highly recommended from a broad spectrum of the football community and, having received permission from Brighton, it was arranged that he meet the entire Board and present to them.

He made a lengthy presentation outlining his football philosophy, which matched our own in every respect. He showed us how games and the opposition are analysed. He also talked about his contacts and experience in football and was questioned by us all. All those present were highly impressed by the man and his ideas and felt that he was a natural motivational speaker.

He told us that it was the way David Pleat treated him when he bought him from Merthyr Tydfil and the enjoyment he then had at Luton that started him thinking about coaching and his football philosophy.
He is young, qualified, technically strong, ambitious, focused, driven and dedicated.

He has the reputation of being an excellent coach and we believe he has the potential to be a great manager. Some will say this is a bold move because he hasn’t been part of the managerial merry-go-round, but “it’s only by being bold you get anywhere”.

The Board, as in all previous cases, were unanimous in their approval and support. 

We wait with interest to see who joins the coaching staff and to see the structure and content of the management team.

Changing managers is not something we like doing. We, and you, get to know them well and it is a wrench when they have to go, not only emotionally but also financially. Every time a manager leaves he and his staff receive compensation and when a new one joins he has to recruit new staff and probably make changes to the playing squad, which of course tends to negatively affect the playing budget.

There have been comments about the number of managers we have had since we took control of the Club. We have released five and appointed five in the last eight years, which sounds a lot. However, the average tenure of a manager in the professional game in England is 1.23 years whereas our average is 1.6 years, and this despite the abnormal pressure to get out of the Conference. 

When we employ a manager we believe and expect that his and our ambitions match and that we can succeed together in the longer term. Let’s hope that Nathan can reverse the trend and help us climb the divisions. 

Our thanks to Andy Awford for standing in after John’s departure and congratulations to him, Paul Driver and our Under-18s for winning the Youth Alliance League last Tuesday. What a fantastic achievement with only one defeat in all competitions this season.

As mentioned in my last notes a considerable number of the Board and vice presidents went to Meadow Lane to see them play Notts County in the FA Youth Cup third round. We were full of optimism after their unbeaten record to that date and they did not disappoint. They played a style of football we hadn’t seen for some time and even though they were reduced to 10 men early in the game came out comfortable winners. Their next opponents are Oldham away and I’m sure that a number of us will make the trip wherever it ends up being. 

I had a Christmas gift of a book entitled “Winners and how they succeed” and thought I would share one of the quotes with you: “the interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.”  -  R Charlesworth Australian coach and athlete. 

Enjoy the game. 

COYH

David

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