03 Aug 2018 by John Edwards

Phil's thoughts on the big kick-off!

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With another new season almost upon us, manager Phil Parkinson casts an eye over the challenge ahead for his Altrincham players as they prepare to face Leamington in their opening Vanarama National League North fixture at The J.Davidson Stadium. Phil provides an insight into the mentality he and his assistant Neil Sorvel have instilled in their players and has a message for Alty supporters in an interview with Press and Media Officer John Edwards that took place after last Saturday’s final pre-season friendly against Salford City.

Q: Is there a sense of excitement, now the first league game is so near?

A: Yes, definitely. It’s just a case of managing it, really. Not that I ever want to lose a game, but it’s probably good from one point of view that we’ve lost today against Salford, because it perhaps tempers expectations a bit. You beat Salford and everyone gets a bit carried away. It’s we beat Macclesfield, we beat Salford, and so on. As I said previously, we have won the games that, on paper, we should have won, so that is a bonus, and, of course, we took the scalp of Macc. We performed well in those other games, and we’ve come through it all without any fresh injuries, so for me, it has been a successful pre-season.

Q: At this stage of proceedings, you hear some managers making bold predictions, and others being ultra-cautious. Where do you stand on the prospects for the season?

A: I think we’ve got to be real about it - we are in a season of transition. I have said all the way through we are not here to make the numbers up. We have got a good enough squad to take anyone on, but we have got to be real about the fact there are some really big clubs in this division. Football League clubs, full-time clubs. We are historically a big club, but we are finding our feet back at Conference level. If you look at the last three seasons, we’ve had one that was successful. The other two were in the Conference National and North, and whether I was here or not or these players were here or not, the fact is we have struggled. So we need to make sure we are doing the right things and finding our feet, then come January, we can reassess our goals and say ‘do you know what? We’ve got half a chance here’ or we need to consolidate and look at whether we need to strengthen. I’m really interested to see how it pans out. I really do believe in this group of players, but I don’t want to come in like I did last season and say we are going to do this or that, because I couldn’t, hand on heart, know that. Historically, if you get promotion, the next season you go on and do fairly well. But that means nothing if you don’t go out on the pitch and do what is required of you. So, for me, it will be a season of transition, where we find our feet. Whatever comes in terms of success, whether it be a good cup run or high league finish, will count as a reasonable season for us. Anything else is a bonus.

Q: What is the mood among the players – do you sense they are up for the challenge?

A: Without a doubt. These players are like that. It wouldn’t matter if they were playing Manchester United, they would think they should win, and I would like to think that is mine and Neil’s mentality coming through on them, because we are winners. But we want to make sure we are doing things our way, not by luck or changing what we do. We want to make sure we are playing our way, and we believe our way will get us results, as I think we showed last season.

Q: Finally, what about the role our supporters can play? You have stressed how important that is before, so what are you hoping for on Saturday – 1,000-plus and a vibrant atmosphere?
A: I hope so, I really hope so. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I came to this club, the big gates and fervent support. We had a few last season, and they made such a difference. Everyone keeps telling me it gets better and better here, so bring it on! Let’s get these Alty fans down here. Now we’ve got a team to shout about, let’s show this league what we’re all about. I’m really looking forward to hearing us in full voice and to having a successful season.

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