Rocks will have a new manager after player talks

James Fraser, pictured with Ian Guppy, picked up goal-of-the-season and leading goalscorer awards at the presentation evening / Picture by Tommy McMillan
James Fraser, pictured with Ian Guppy, picked up goal-of-the-season and leading goalscorer awards at the presentation evening / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor aim to have their new manager in place within a month – but talks with the current players are coming first.

General manager Jack Pearce and coach Darin Killpartrick are starting to talk to the promotion-winning squad about their futures and are hopeful the vast majority will stay.

Once the club know how many of the squad are remaining and in which positions they will need to strengthen, they will decide on their preferred choice as Jamie Howell’s replacement as team boss.

It’s a week since Howell ended eight years in the Rocks dugout to take the reins at Eastbourne Borough, and club chief Pearce says the Rocks are clear about the road ahead.

“Darin and I will be speaking to the players and making offers we consider appropriate. At the end of that process we will have a better idea of the type of manager we require,” said Pearce.

“Some managers are good at coming in and managing a group of players who are already in place at a club – others are good at using their contacts to get their own players in. So we’ll see what we need.

We might take the odd gamble financially and push things to the limit but we will not spend money we haven’t got. That’s always been our way and will continue to be so.

Jack Pearce

“We’re not inviting applications but we have three or four names on our radar and if they’re people already in employment with a club, we’ll go through the correct channels to make our approach.

“I’d expect it to take three or four weeks to get a new manager in place but we would certainly hope to have everything sorted before pre-season. It’s got to be someone who buys into the club’s philosophy.”

Pearce estimates Bognor’s wage bill for 2017-18 will be around 60 per cent of the average for National League South, the level the Rocks are returning to after eight seasons away. And that means they will have to use their talent for spotting young players who are not on bigger clubs’ radars and developing them.

“We might take the odd gamble financially and push things to the limit but we will not spend money we haven’t got. That’s always been our way and will continue to be so.

“Even in the league we’re going into it, a lot of clubs have benefactors – and we don’t. People coming through the turnstiles will continue to be our main source of income and that’s why I was very encouraged that more than 2,000 local people came to the play-off final.

“We need to keep many of them on board and we also need more volunteers to help do jobs at the club that will save us money – and more sponsors to enter our sponsors’ draw. It all helps.”

All the Rocks backroom staff were quick to confirm they were staying at Nyewood Lane following Howell’s exit. Howell has recruited Danny Bloor and Ian Simpemba as his right-hand men at Priory Lane.

The Rocks players were in jubilant mood at the club’s end-of-season awards evening last Friday.

Keeper Dan Lincoln – one of the stars Rocks fans fear will move to a higher-league club this summer – scooped the fans’ player of the year award, while other player gongs went to Sami El-Abd, Gary Charman, James Fraser, Jimmy Wild and Doug Tuck.

STEVE BONE

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