READ | Manager’s Pre-Season Blog: Final Instalment
Across pre-season, Blues Manager Calum McIntyre has updated supporters as we build to the new season. He wraps up with an important message to you – our fantastic supporters…
Pre-season has come to an end and it is now time to officially turn our attentions to the National League North campaign that lies ahead and our opening fixture of the season at Alfreton Town.
The final week of pre-season saw two fixtures, both against sides just one division below ourselves. I was pleased on Tuesday night with how we dominated the ball but felt we didn’t quite make the right decisions when we got in and around the opposition box. We had sustained pressure but probably didn’t make the goalkeeper make enough saves. Similarly, it was another deserved clean sheet which is important for the players’ confidence to see some reward for their defensive work.
The Hyde game was typical of a final pre-season game and we used the opportunity to get minutes into some players who have missed games recently but it made for a slightly disjointed performance. It was really pleasing to get minutes into Kevin Roberts, Adam Thomas and see Lewis Earl return after missing the last two games.
Since taking over in May, everyone at the club has worked tirelessly to get us where we want to be come the start of the season. The players’ work on the training ground has been excellent and they have bought in massively to what we are trying to create. Equally, so much work has been done off the pitch from a commercial point of view, particularly led by our new General Manager Georgina Slawinski alongside Albert Davies. Improvements have been made to the Deva Stadium, a new lick of paint for every stand as well as redecorating the Legends Lounge. The board continue to work as hard as they can off the field to ensure that the club is in the best possible position to compete and the season ticket sales reflect the job they have done.
It is that togetherness in every single area of this football club that is vital in us succeeding this year.
Togetherness isn’t agreeing with everything. You don’t have to agree with every decision I make to support the team. You don’t have to be an advocate of the ownership model to want the team to win and feel like you can support come matchday. No matter what your beliefs around the club are, your support is massive and can ALWAYS be channeled towards what is out there on the pitch.
Our fans are incredible. They always have been. They have seen so many challenges over the years and constantly return to back the team in so many ways. The season ticket sales this summer have been enormous and the Boost the Budget contributions are reflective of how truly special our fans are in their passion for the club.
This team cannot achieve what they want to achieve without the backing of those fans and we will need their support at home and away. It can make a huge difference for the players and I know they want to deliver for the club and its supporters.
Our changing room has a very genuine group of people. They are real people that want to be at Chester Football Club. They want to win games, they want to be a part of the club. You will see them in the Blues Bar after games. You will see them recognising the support they receive. They have started doing that this summer and it is real. I am really proud to lead this group of people into the season ahead.
For my part, it has been an incredibly demanding 10 weeks or so. I took over a football club with two players and had to get to work immediately to retain our best players. We had no recruitment targets and I’m so pleased with what we have been able to attract to the club in a short space of time. We have targets this season but I know I cannot guarantee anything other than a team that will work as hard as it can to get success for Chester Football Club.
It’s important to recognise it’s a fresh start, whether that’s for players remaining with the club or our new additions. This is a new team. When they succeed, they haven’t continued the achievements of the 2003/04 team that won promotion to the Football League. When they win games, they aren’t the same team that drew away at Barnsley in front of 2,000 away fans and they aren’t the team that did so well to reach the play-offs or be third when the season was cancelled during the Covid pandemic. This team will need to record their own achievements and successes and be judged on that. They will need to earn their own place in the club’s history. In the same way, this team didn’t get relegated from the National League in 2018, nor was it the team that had Cup disappointments at Royston or Marske. It is a clean slate for everyone and they deserve the chance to be judged on what they do together rather than what has gone before. When we lose games, we will have lost a game and the frustration of whatever has gone before surely cannot be channeled at this group of players the way that it may have done in the past.
We will need everyone all season. We will need our supporters right behind us whether they are in the stands, following at home or using their presence on social media. No-one here wants to lose games of football and it will never be through a lack of effort.
It isn’t what is different between our support that matters but that shared desire for the team out there on the pitch to win games. Whether your pre match is spent having a few beers on Northgate Street and Garden Lane or simply travelling with the kids in the car for some Loaded Fries or a Pie, everyone wants Chester to win. Whether you buy your 50/50 ticket, attend alone or the meet the same faces in the same seats, everyone in that ground needs to play their part in supporting this team. Whether you stand or sit, East or West. We are all there and want the right result for the team on the pitch. Unity isn’t about agreeing on everything, it is about finding something that everyone can get behind. For us, that’s our football team.
The real stuff starts Saturday. We are Chester Football Club. I can guarantee our players and staff will truly understand what that means.
They want what our supporters want and they can’t achieve it without them. When we fall short, it will never be through a lack of effort and will hurt us just as much as it hurts those in the stands.
There will be highs and lows during the season that is just six days away. When it’s tough, stick with us and when it’s brilliant, enjoy those moments and be proud to play your part.
Thank you for all your support during the close season period. It’s time to get to work.
I am a Chester fan and I am a Cestrian. Up the Seals.