After 5 years out of the UK, 3 different clubs and a stint with the Nigerian Under 23s, I’m heading ‘home’ as it were, for our next job! I’ve left Vanersborgs in quite a strong position having just been promoted, to take over at Berwick Rangers, in the Scottish League Two.
Founded in 1881, Berwick have won League Two and League One once, and are currently 8th in the league of 10 teams, seemingly safe from the threat of relegation, with 6 games remaining in the current season.
Across the next six games, I’ll be looking at the playing staff as it stands, deciding who stays and who goes, and targeting our summer business early, so that we can start to build for a promotion push next season. As it stands i’m not going to change too much tactically, running with the same setup which served me so well in Sweden, and i’ll tweak that as an when I think it’s necessary.
I suppose a change of country is as good a time as any, to reflect on what i’ve learnt in the last five years of the save. Firstly, that i’m pretty bad at saving clubs from relegation! However, what I think I have picked up in the last 5 years is developing my own style of play with clubs, and being able to identify the players I need to make the system work. (I’ll talk more about my tactics in another post), and I think i’ve gained a little bit in terms of knowing how to develop an ‘identity’ with a club; although its generally been one of being a plucky underdog.
We’ve been thrown right into the mixer at the business end of the season, however i’ve identified a couple of players that I think I could build around both now and in the future:
These 3 players are all under the age of 21, and give me some hope for the club’s future. My biggest concern is that we’ve got four players on loan from other clubs this season, and i’d say that all four are key parts of what have been our first team this season. I’ll be looking to keep the two young midfielders at the club, however neither Chris Henry or Luke Lyons have any interest in joining permanently.
We rounded out the season with a difficult run of games to finish 8th (although we did finish with an incredible 6-2 win over eventual runners-up Edinburgh City) and there’s a lot of work to be done in pre-season, especially tactically, as my tactic from Vanersborgs isn’t really working in the Scottish lower leagues. I’ve got a few ideas for where I want to take this team, but it’s largely going to come down to finances and how many players we lose over the summer.
We raked in just over £45k for our league position, and I wouldn’t say we’re in a bad position financially, but I do need to be careful going forwards not to overspend and stretch the finances too much!
I’ve not had our aims for next season as yet, but i’m hopeful that we can consolidate and potentially hit a mid-table finish, especially if I can get the tactics to click and work properly