Having completed his third week in the role, Manager Calum McIntyre has provided an update for supporters as he spoke to ChesterFC.com about recruitment and preparations for 2022/23…
I think it’s vitally important the manager of this football club engages with the supporters; particularly given our model and the direct involvement you as fans have in the team’s success on and off the pitch. I feel the most effective way to do this is through the Club’s official channels and will endeavour to update as much as is possible and practical over the close season.
The nature of recruitment and retention has been quite unique for us this season. Given the timing of my appointment, in contrast with many clubs, we had just two contracted players at the end of the 2021/22 season, both Academy graduates. With this in mind, there was no steady flow of contract renewals or options being activated at the back end of the season, and nor was there a list of recruitment targets that had assembled during March and April as happened at other clubs.
My first task was to speak to each member of last season’s squad and begin working through a retained list. As a consequence, much of the ‘business’ we have conducted and therefore announced is the retention of players as none of this was in place prior to the end of the season.
I do think it’s important to highlight that of the 25 players who made up the first team squad that ended the season, only 12 have been offered terms for 2022/23. Of those, three are Academy graduates under the age of 19 who are still in the early stages of their senior development, two are young centre forwards who spent significant portions of last season out on loan, one was injured for a large part of the season after missing key parts of pre-season, and another of those offered terms only featured for the club over the final three months of the season.
It was really pleasing to get the initial retentions done with George Glendon, Declan Weeks, Darren Stephenson and Kevin Roberts among them. These are desirable players for any team in this division and I was really pleased that they wanted to be a part of the journey we are about to undertake at Chester.
As well as retaining senior players, it is also important the Club acts to offer terms to those younger players who we are keen to develop further. Our club has a real track record of developing and selling young talent, both produced through our own Academy and external recruitment. Re-engagement had been offered to Matty Williams within an appropriate deadline to protect the club with regards to training compensation and further offers were made to players aged 21 or under in Wyll Stanway, Zack Clarke, Lloyd Marsh-Hughes and Sam Turner. This is an important part of the club’s identity and this was an important process.
Further to this, I am really pleased to have been able to retain Anthony Dudley. I am very much looking forward to working with Duds in a daytime environment, looking to really establish the best parts of his game and work on those areas that no doubt he will want to improve. His goal contributions are immense and I really believe he can be a huge asset to our forward line for the coming season.
Adam Thomas was our first signing of the summer and it was a brilliant one to get done as the opportunity arose. He has won this league, has real consistency in contributing in the final third and has the athletic profile we were keen to recruit. This was followed by the signing of Kole Hall. Kole came on to my radar while at Radcliffe, he is a powerful centre forward who is a real presence at the top end of the pitch. He is young and hungry and ticks a lot of the boxes that we wanted to recruit in those areas. It was clear we needed a level of height in the front line and Kole offers this as well as possessing real technical ability.
Our third new signing is Joe Lynch who follows me from Runcorn Linnets. I genuinely believe that without the Covid-19 pandemic, Joe wouldn’t have found himself playing at step four in non-league. A graduate of Crewe’s Academy, a professional contract there was followed by a move to Morecambe. Joe is part of a cohort of players who are unfortunate that the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions this placed on clubs, seriously limited the opportunities available to them. Joe ended up at Runcorn as a means of playing senior games consistently and at 21 is a young player that I am pleased to now have on our books. I understand people may see Joe stepping up leagues but in truth his background lends itself to a level above where he has plied his trade for the last 12 months.
The enthusiasm from our supporters for new signings is amazing, and it is this enthusiasm that has seen a strong start to season ticket sales, Boost the Budget pledges flying in to the club and the new shirt being pre-ordered left, right and centre. The players are excited about what this season will bring and it’s great to see this being shared by our supporters.
I am so clear as to what we need to bring to our football club. It does not take Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher to work out that we need to add a physical presence in midfield as well as a central defender with an appropriate level of experience. The statistics from last season do not lie. We had a team that were comfortable in front of goal without reliance on a single individual but the goals against column wasn’t where we wanted it to be. I recognise the importance of improving the defensive unit and recruiting the right players to do that is imperative. There are obviously other positions where we clearly need to add to or reinforce and we will do so as when the right individuals become available.
One thing that I will stress is that we will not rush this process, it is very early days in the recruitment window ahead of pre-season and we won’t be given any points this season for handling our recruitment earlier than others. We know exactly how many players we want to have in certain areas and we are equally clear on the profile of team we want to be. We have some magnificent, technical footballers and we will play an exciting brand of winning football, however, we equally must ensure we have the right defensive unit and that we are appropriately equipped athletically across the pitch as well as being able to defend set pieces effectively. We have an extensive list of targets in the areas we wish to recruit in and we will work through this at the right speed, I am very clear on how I want to recruit and that the make-up of the group fits with our identity and that the profiles of the individuals within that have the right attributes on the pitch but equally are the right characters off it.
Many thanks to all those who have pledged and contributed to Boost the Budget, that is an enormous part of what we can do in recruitment which in turn will be an even bigger part of what we can achieve on the pitch this season. Get behind these players, old, new or on loan. They are playing for our football club.
See you in pre-season,