Strong team spirit the key for Rainworth MW, says boss Julian Watts

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Manager Julian Watts says that a strong team spirit will be at the heart of his plans to bring the good times back to NCEL Premier club Rainworth MW.

And Watts’ prediction is borne out by the fact that none of the 16 players signed on so far have asked the question ‘How much?’

Included in the squad so far are several who were members of current assistant manager Ady Smith’s highly successful reserve side of two years ago, and Watts insists that a strong dressing room spirit, so prevalent among the then youngsters in those days, can be worth an extra 10 to 15 points a season.

Speaking after Tuesday’s training session, he said: “Team spirit will certainly play a big part in what we are about.

“The best time of my playing career was at Leicester City. We socialised together much more than I think Premier League players do now. If you’re on a pitch with a team of good friends you go that extra mile to help them out, so Ady and I will encourage the lads to have nights out together and build a strong spirit.

“We are very lucky that the club have just acquired a 17-seat minibus which will enable the lads to travel together to away matches. Travelling together cannot be over-estimated, and it’s sweet to be able to have a few beers together after a win on the road.

“For me, how well people blend together is far more important than any individual talent.”

With the Wrens now midway through their six-game pre-season programme, Watts reflected that it was ‘so far so good’, but the three games so far have helped him identify a couple of areas of concern which will be worked on between now and the big kick off on 8th August.

“We lost 5-1 to a very strong Mansfield Town, which we knew was going to be difficult,” he continued.

“We had done very well in the first half to hold them to 1-1, but they brought on an entirely new team to play the second half against our tiring legs, and once they had gone back in front to a fluke goal it made it extra difficult for us on a very hot day.

“But for a club of our level to have 37 per cent of possession against opposition of that calibre was quite good.

“In the 2-2 draw at Teversal we passed the ball around well in the first half and looked commanding, but we gave away a scruffy goal and then a dubious penalty, but two excellent goals for us were encouraging.

“As at Teversal, we lost our way a little in the second half at Ollerton Town although we held on to our 2-0 lead, so we are working hard on our fitness levels to try to eradicate that, as the opposition level builds up again in the last couple of games following this Saturday’s home match against Clay Cross Town.

“Our final game, against Heanor Town, will be more of a test as they play at our level, albeit in a different league, and will give us an indication of where we are as we go into the season proper.”

The Wrens have been sent on their travels in the draws for both FA competitions.

In the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup they will travel to Scunthorpe to face NCEL Division One outfit Bottesford Town, while their return to the FA Vase after five years in the Trophy will see them pitted against former Evo-Stik League rivals Quorn, now in the Midland League.

Watts says he is looking forward to both games. “Bottesford will have a strong side and will be looking for promotion from Division One,” he predicted.

“Last year with Shirebrook we took six points off them, but they always make it hard, although we should be confident that we are a division higher.

“I lived a mile down the road from Quorn’s ground when I played for Leicester, so I’ll be meeting a few old faces there, but they have a lovely set-up and a fantastic playing surface, which should suit the brand of football we will be striving to serve up.

“I have every confidence in the players we have signed so far, and with a few more to come in before the season starts I’m looking forward to both games.”