Dean Brennan's Pre-Match Thoughts
Wealdstone’s Bank Holiday double-header starts with the visit of Hungerford Town to The Vale on Saturday afternoon, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Dean Brennan to gather the manager’s thoughts before the big weekend ahead.
“We’ll know more about Connor [Smith] on Thursday [at training]. He didn’t do anything [on] Tuesday and he said it doesn’t feel too bad. We’ll see on Thursday once it settles down and then see if he’s ready for the weekend.
“We’re still not sure how long [Ryan] Sellers will be. Billy Clifford also has a little niggle in his groin so we’ll see how that is on Thursday as well.”
“They [Hungerford] have a lot of youthfulness within their group. They have got a poacher of a goal scorer [Liam] Ferdinand and [James] Constable as well, he’s a strong and experienced player. Hungerford also have a lot of athleticism in their group, ability and are well organised to be fair to Watto [Kevin Watson] and Ian [Herring]. They are both ex-players and know what they’re doing.
“They may not have the biggest budget in the division [National League South], but they come with basically a free game for them, we’ll have to be aware of that. What’s important for us is that we create the intensity that we’ve been doing and we stick to the standards we set ourselves. It will be tough as there are no easy games in this division.
“You look at Braintree. We beat them four-nil, then they’ve beaten St. Albans three-nil and Eastbourne five-nil since, so there are no easy games. That shows how tough the division is, Chelmsford drew nil-nil at Havant [& Waterlooville] and then Havant beat Dorking six-nil.”
On being top of the league…
“I think as a football club, we can’t get carried away with ourselves. When we’re top of the division it’s fantastic for our supporters and everyone behind the scenes. Within the changing room, within the management; within the staff [we know] we can only affect today, not tomorrow and you can only learn from yesterday.
“We look to learn from yesterday, affect today and keep striving to improve tomorrow. I still can’t believe I managed three clubs last season, football can all change very quickly so I think it’s very important that we go one game at a time.
“Confidence is high and I think all the players are looking forward to the next game, but we are cautious of Hungerford and what levels they can reach.”
On the successful friendly against Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday…
“Yeah [it was successful]. Phil [Roberts] needed the minutes and scored a fantastic goal. It’s typical Phil, he’s a classy finisher. Sanchez [Watt] also needed minutes, he started [the season] and come out because of a dead leg so it was good for him.
“Everyone who needed minutes played in that game so it was beneficial for everyone. We had one or two trialists play, we might take a longer look at them. The lads that have been playing [this season] had a light forty-five minute session which they deserved because there have been so many games in a hectic schedule.
“We have two games in 48 hours, and with the mad schedule that we have we’ll need the whole squad ready. I was happy with the performance last night [Tuesday], although it’s hard because only one of our defenders [Afolabi Coker] was in the back four. People like [Matty] Saunders and Jake Sheppard needed the minutes so the game done its job.”
Will the return of Jonathan North cause a goalkeeper selection headache?
“No headache at all. I think it’s brilliant, healthy competition. It’s better to have two good goalies than one good goalie, even Joe Ringer who backs them up had a good pre-season. We want a high-level of player at the football club. As I always say I don’t pick the team, the players pick the team.
“At the minute, the team is picking itself. They’ll be tests during the season where I’ll have to dissect, chop and change people who’ve been out of form and with a loss of confidence. That will happen over a forty-two game season. When Northy [Jonathan North] gets his opportunity, he’s got to be better than Aston [Oxborough]. That’s how teams keep improving.”
On having two games on Bank Holiday weekend…
“I think this weekend will be a major challenge for us; it will be a challenge for everybody because you could lose two and others could win two, then suddenly you’re mid-table. We’re not looking at the division, we’re looking at the points per game and the point’s total. Our points per game average is very strong at the moment so we want to maintain that.
“What we have to concentrate on is one game at a time. The players will have to keep raising the bar and setting the standards. The appetite and the application of the players has been excellent, if we maintain that then we’ll keep winning games at this level.
“All we can do is focus on Hungerford. In my mind as the manager, I do have a little bit of an eye on Weymouth but not the players. Its two games in quick succession, it’s important that the players focus on the one game which is Hungerford. Then on Sunday, they start focusing on Weymouth.
“August Bank Holiday is one of the best weekends in football, the weather is usually really nice. You’ll have players who have family days on Sunday, hopefully our players make them sacrifices this weekend.
“I’ve managed seven [August] Bank Holidays and I’ve been really successful. This will be my eighth [August Bank Holiday], in the last seven I’ve won both games [on the same weekend] four times. It’s important that we go back to that.”
On the possibility of Under-18s appearing across the season…
“We’ll have to watch them [the Under-18s] play, their season doesn’t start until September so we will watch them play. If they are good enough then they are old enough, it’s always been my motto. We’ll see what happens as time goes by. Joe Ringer has done a great job for us, we know he can do a job for us at this level, if we have to rely on him then we know that we can.”