Jim Bentley and his players have now had a few days training, after a long summer away from the pitch.
The Coasters’ manager, who has his own health battle as well as a football battle to deal with, is really pleased with how things have progressed at the club in recent weeks and is aiming to bring that positivity into the coming season.
First and foremost though, at the forefront of everyone’s minds is Jim’s health. On that topic, he told afcfylde.co.uk: “I’m alright! I feel fit and I’m doing a lot of walking. There is no real difference to how I was before, but I just know I have the issue so I need to keep an eye on myself. It needs sorting, but I am still waiting on a date.
“The big thing for me is that I thought it would be instant and I would be a write off for a bit without having my backroom staff and squad in place. Obviously I have to take things easy and make sure I manage myself right, so it’s great that I have good people around me. Jonty and I have discussed different things, we’ve ran them past the Chairman and he has backed us where he can. I am now really, really pleased with what we have in the building in terms of coaching staff and we have some good players that have come in to add to the group we already had.
“We’re identifying players all the time that can make us even better so I am pleased that’s coming along nicely and I have full trust in everyone here. When the time comes for me to dip out and have the operation, so be it. I can then come back into a good setup that we are building here. For now though, I am just waiting on a date and going about my business as normal.”
With a new backroom team in place as his side aim for a successful season in the National League North, Jim feels that each of the new appointments have individual qualities to offer in their own respective areas. Running through his team, Jim gave the following comments on each member of the coaching staff.
On assistant manager Nick Chadwick, Jim said: “We’ve known each other for quite a few years and have also been on some coaching courses together. We’ve always got along well and when Nick was at Wigan and I was at Morecambe, a good friend of mine who was there in Paul Cook used to let us use their training facilities from time to time so on the times we were there we would see even more of each other.
“He’s very knowledgable, a good coach and again a good person which is important for us. Nick is someone who is determined to do well and I am happy to have him on board.”
On Andy Taylor, who stepped up from player to coach this summer, Jim told us: “He’s doing great. He’s really eager, loves the game and wants to learn so he can do well with us. You can see his organisational skills are very good, he’s learning as he goes and will be covering a couple of different departments which is good for us but also good for him as he can dip his toes into different areas.
“One big barrier that he’s crossed is that the players know him and respect him already so that’s important for us, he’s doing superbly well. We’ve all been in the bit where you come out of playing and step into the management office, there is always a worry how you’ll be perceived when you’ve got a different kit on and I am sure there will be some good banter but Tayls has adapted well so far and will only get better and better at it.”
Next up, a more recent appointment in the form of Head of Medical, Gareth Thomas. Jim said: “Gareth is obviously someone I know from Morecambe. He’s very highly qualified and is a fantastic person as well. He’s got a great understanding of everything medical that is needed here, he’s done all that for years as he began at youth level with Morecambe but we asked him to step up to help with the first team over the last few years there.
“He knows exactly what he’s doing with assessing and treating players, whilst also having a full understanding on sports science which is great for what we need. Since coming in he’s shown how hard working he is and that is already showing and having a big impact on the players.”
In a part-time fitness role during the pre-season schedule, Dave Norris has formed another vital part of the staff as our strength and conditioning coach. As a former player himself and with huge experience across the football league as a player, and now working privately high-profile sports professionals, Dave becomes another key member of Jim’s team.
On Norris, Jim said: “Dave is a friend of Nick’s and is very highly qualified in the sports science and fitness areas that we need. He’s been a player so gets the football environment and has worked with a number of elite sportsmen and women in his own private practice as well. This also helps him having big connections both inside and outside the game to gain further knowledge. He’s leaned on this expertise to bring on some top processes to us and hopefully make us the fittest team in the league.”
Now the players are back in and on the training ground, Jim told us what his style is. This will be the manager’s first pre-season with the Coasters having joined midway through the 2019/20 campaign.
“I’m from a background and Chaddy is certainly from that as well, that it can’t all be about running and flogging them.” Bentley explained. “From day one we’ve had the balls out and the lads have been individually just getting used to having that back on their feet.
“The first couple of weeks is of course about fitness, so between all staff we’ve put a plan in place, we’ve had numerous meetings about what we need to do. We’ve taken into consideration everyone’s thoughts and got plans in place to make sure we are ready when the big kick-off arrives and be fit enough to sustain it throughout the season.”