Q&A with Eastbourne Borough manager Jamie Howell
Pre-season: We have come a long way in a short time. The first pre-season game at Tunbridge Wells seems a long time ago now! We learned with every game, with players taking on new ideas, and that was naturally more important than simple results. There were spells in every match where we played really well and we want to string that together.
The Jamie Way: Yes, I suppose there is a particular way. We want our teams to play with high tempo and high intensity. Each player has responsibilities and has to implement them.
Signings: We already had a very good nucleus of players from Tommy’s squad. Those I have added were all specific targets. Sergio is probably our key signing, unmatched experience, outstanding calibre. The two full-backs (Redwood and Hendon) are really quick and confident on the ball. Matt Drage I already had in mind as he can play both centre-back and midfield. And then Yemi! There may be a couple more signings before long.
A local team: Well, Yemi (Odubade) is a prime example – he is a terrific signing, he could easily have gone elsewhere but he’s here because his roots are here. Of my squad to start the season, we have Pinney, Khinda-John and Drage – the South London Three! And every other player is Sussex based. That isn’t an article of faith – if there was a player we wanted from Kent or Hampshire, we wouldn’t turn him down! Supporters should identify with their team and that’s easier if they are local.
The Board and the budget: The Board have been superb. They are doing all they can and giving me all the backing I could need. What I won’t do is spend other people’s money unwisely or rashly. I have to give, and get, value for our money. The Board know this is a long process – all managers tend to plead for time at first, but I don’t need to plead because we know it is a building process and not a quick fix. I’m at the helm of a very fine club, following another fine manager, and taking on the next phase.
Supporters: All the supporters I have met so far have been brilliant, and above all really encouraging. I really appreciate that. They want us to succeed but they are positive. I’ve not sensed the wrong sort of pressure from them, and I know we can be a partnership in moving the club forward. The supporters will be behind us if we entertain.
The National South: Most people will look at clubs like Chelmsford and Dartford, but there is no club with huge amounts to spend such as Ebbsfleet last season, or such as Billericay in the division below us. Every club starts with nil points. Every opponent is there to be respected but not feared.
Aims and targets: It would be very easy for any manager to say we want to finish ninth, or finish sixth, but it is not that simple, it’s not that statistical. We want to be in the mix and keep the top of the table in sight. I won’t say no to a flying start, but a start is all it is. What we must do is keep improving, keep learning about ourselves.