As part of our series of pre season managerial interviews, we caught up with returning Wokingham & Emmbrook manager Dan Bateman who talks at length about his year out of the game and how the planning is coming together for the 2017/18 season in Hellenic League Division 1 East.
Hey Dan, welcome back to Wokingham. What have you been up to in your season out of management?
Having a well earned break! Football management takes its toll at any level and I just felt after 20 years at the club I just felt that taking some time away from the pressures and commitment to recharge my batteries was needed. I couldn’t have a year off football though and so spent my year watching as many live games as possible at many different levels (Championship down to Step 7) to try and pick up some new ideas and broaden my football knowledge. Whenever I go to games I like to sit / stand right behind the dugouts and just listen to different managers opinions and instructions and think what would I do!
Who of the managers you observed impressed you the most? What was a real standout fixture?
I would say Terry Brown at Basingstoke is one I always enjoy watching. He has so much experience in the game that you cannot help to learn from him. I also watched quite a few Slough Town and Maidenhead games and have a lot of time for the job both there management teams are doing. Both good local clubs enjoying success in the non-league pyramid. I’ve watched so many games its difficult to pinpoint one to be honest.
And what did you make of the Wokingham games you saw last season? We caught the Woodley win and Finch and Bracknell defeats and it struck us that with 11 on the pitch the Sumas are far better than the final table suggested.
I agree. Knowing most of the lads who played last year they are better then there league position suggested and had Clive managed to get his best XI out every week I’m sure they would of finished a lot higher up the league. To be honest I think there was a little bit of a hang over from the lads who got beaten up the year before and my first job this year is to Turn that mentality around. We want to start winning games regularly again and then everything will start to improve.
You said in your Wokingham Paper interview there were no targets yet, but are you looking at the longer term with Wokingham this time? Especially with the ground improvements we understand expected in 2018.
When we won the league and got promoted a couple of years ago we did not have the infrastructure to go up so we decided to share with Henley. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it made a difficult job almost impossible. Therefore the ground development is essential for us as a club and then we can look further ahead. As I said to the Wokingham Paper I have not set any targets but I expect us to be at fighting at the right end of the league this year!
Are you looking at any particular areas of improvement in the team?
As I said earlier we need to get that winning mentality back. I have no doubt in the ability of the players that we have at the club, the majority of them were part of the side that won this league previously, we just need to forget the last couple of seasons and start enjoying our football again and I am sure the positive results will follow.
Final question, any particular player have high hopes for next season?
The squad is coming together nicely and I am pleased with the progress we are making but I don’t want to single anyone out. We have some exciting young lads coming through who I think can make a real impact this year.
Want to catch up with all the interviews so far? Visit our ‘interview’ page for chats with former Bracknell Town striker TJ Bohane, Woodley United manager Michael Herbert and AFC Aldermaston’s Kieran Jennings.