‘Meet the Manager’ Grandstand Bar. 7-30pm Thursday, 18th March 2010.
Around 45 supporters were present to ask questions to Liam Watson.
The meeting was chaired by Rob Urwin who started by thanking Liam very much for giving up his time to come to meet supporters.
1. Ciaran Kilheeney
It was commented that as last season Ciaran had started the season in excellent form but his goal scoring had fallen away.
Liam said that last season he had suffered from injury and this year he felt he had been affected by the postponements and so lack of regular matches.
He had no doubt he would come through and there was NO truth in the rumour that there would be a swap deal with Droylsden for Ciaran and Tony Gray.
He had always admired Tony as a player and looking back it was unfortunate that he had left last season
2. Reserve Team.
Liam said that the reserve team had been very important this year in helping the development of the youth players. He had used it sporadically for the first team but he preferred to work with a small first team squad who all would be involved in first team matches.
There were great benefits of developing youth team players with Michael Powell being an excellent example.
Next season he would like the reserve team to continue to help the Youth players but not if that was to mean a reduction in the first team budget.
3. Players for next season if we gain promotion.
He had already identified which players would cope with the demands of Conference National and unlike last time we gained promotion would probably bring in 5 or 6 new players.
4. New signings this season.
Liam said he would probably make one more signing before the transfer deadline.
Getting Kevin Lee and Alan Moogan back fit was a major boost.
He had signed Fola Onibuje because he offered a different threat to the other three strikers.
Fola had spent much of his career with Peter Taylor and would be likely to spend preseason with him at Bradford City.
In answer to a question about wingers he said that although it would be nice to have a right winger like Mark Duffy in fact many attractive and successful teams did not have out and out wingers. In any case Paul Barrett and Robbie Booth had done very well for example at Stalybridge.
5. Farsley Celtic.
It was very disappointing that Farsley had folded
He did not agree with clubs who spent large sums of money on players but did not pay their taxes which meant that we all suffered.
He felt that the Conference had no serious alternative to expunging their record.
Perhaps the complaints coming from Fleetwood were the first signs that they were ‘cracking’ under the pressure.
6. Points to win the title.
‘One more than Fleetwood’! Probably about 86.
This season was very unusual in as much as one team, Fleetwood, had a wage bill several times bigger than ours. There was at least one League One club with a lower wage bill than Fleetwood!
7. Quality of football.
It was commented that the quality of our play had fallen recently compared with some of the excellent performances earlier in the season.
Liam said there were several reasons for this. The postponements had brought a lack of continuity, many teams were trying to prevent us playing football and the quality of some pitches was poor. As an illustration of that he mentioned the games at Stalybridge (good pitch) and Redditch (very poor).
8. Tony McMillan.
It was commented that after a shaky start last season he was playing outstandingly.
Liam said that he was the best goalkeeper in the league.
9. Losing players.
Liam was asked if he thought there was any chance that players like Matty McGinn would be signed by other clubs.
He said that there was excellent team spirit at the club and they were a tight knit team of players which meant it less likely that players would leave.
However, if we were promoted to the Conference National that would probably increase the chances of players coming to the attention of bigger clubs.
He would never stand in the way of them bettering themselves in a football way.
10. Bradley Barnes
In answer to a question about Bradley, Liam said that this season was a learning curve for him. In several matches it had been shown that we needed more a physical presence. However, Bradley had a great deal of ability and in fact might be better at Conference National level. He had now gone out on a three match loan to Halifax Town to gain fitness.
11.What if we don’t get promoted?
We had a young squad and were building for the future.
We would get promoted!
12. Staying up.
He didn’t think that the Conference National was as strong as when were in it last. Altrincham were doing well but he felt our squad was as good as theirs.
We would not be going full time.
He had already begun discussions with the Chairman about next season and given him a list of players he would like if we got promoted
In the long term he felt it was realistic that we could get into the Football League. He gave examples of teams like Aldershot, Morecambe, Burton, Accrington and Dagenham as similar sized clubs who had reached the Football League
To be successful, stability in a club was very important.
13. Lancashire Cup Final.
In the Final at the Reebok he would be playing the players who had featured in earlier rounds like Sean Lake, Robbie Booth, Paul Barrett, Bradley Barnes etc;
We were very keen to win the Cup but it obviously was not as important as doing well in League Matches.
14. Transfer Fees
In answer to a question Liam said that we had been very successful in selling players in the past couple of years like Carl Baker, Craig Noone, Mark Duffy and Zak Aley. This meant that after many years of losing money the club would now be in a better position financially.
15. Youth scheme.
The youth players were now training mainly at Litherland Sports Centre. A big advantage of the scheme was the opportunity it gave to players like Alan Moogan, Matty McGinn, Michael Powell and Kevin Lee to work full time at the club.
The gates were still very disappointing considering the success of the team.
The meeting thanked Liam for all his work for the club and for giving up his evening to speak to supporters.