St Albans City season preview

James Gray and Graham Golds

James Gray and Graham Golds - Credit: Archant

JAMES GRAY and Graham Golds head into their first full season as joint managers of St Albans City and they have their eyes on the biggest prize, the league title.

The duo took over in October last year after David Howell left the club, sparking a mass exodus of players. With a small squad, Gray and Golds almost pulled off the impossible by getting City into the play-offs, but a disappointing April saw them fall away and finish 11th overall.

Now, with an extended pre-season under their belts, both managers admitted they are itching to get the new campaign underway.

“We’re all buzzing to get going,” Gray told the Herts Ad.

“Pre-season is pre-season and a lot of hard work has gone into getting the players to a certain level of fitness. The lads can’t wait.”

He added: “We worked hard to get the players in that we wanted; we missed out on a couple but some have come through that we didn’t expect.

“The majority of players Graham and I wanted we got so we’re in a situation that if they’re not doing it then it’s our fault.

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“We want to be in and around the top of the league all year, starting at Poole, who are an unknown entity to me; they got promoted so will be on a high but if we click like we did today [against Hemel Hempstead] then teams will have problems with us.”

It has been 112 days since City were last in league action and Golds explain what type of team fans can expect to see this year.

“We want to entertain and win games. If we can get that right, everyone will be happy: the fans and the players, which is important,” he said.

“The boys are getting there; it may take a little bit of time, but they are already showing us that they can do it.”

Golds pointed to the 3-0 pre-season loss to Concord Rangers as the game where he, Gray and the players learned the most.

“Concord played the way we want our boys to play: get the ball down when we have it, and chase it and regain possession as early and as high up the pitch as possible when we haven’t.

“Concord did that to us and the boys have really taken it on board having played against it.

“We’re ready to go now; friendlies are good and we have enjoyed them when we’ve played good football, but we want to be playing for points and so do the players.”

City boast a much larger squad than last year, and Gray believes it will be the side’s main strength this year.

“We haven’t got outstanding individuals; our strength is squad depth. You can’t win the league with 11, or even 16, players so it’s going to be bigger squad.

“We might have to rotate, especially with games coming thick and fast, so everyone will get game time. The players, owners and fans need to trust in us.”

City begin the season away at Poole on Saturday before welcoming Hungerford Town to Clarence Park on Monday evening, 7.45pm kick-off.