Interview with Academy Manager – Lee Collier
- Q) Now we are approaching the end of pre-season, how have you found the warm up to this year’s campaigns?
Lee: “It’s been an enjoyable pre-season, we have had quite a change of players, basically starting from scratch. We’ve been back in for 6 weeks now and the progress we have made over those 6 weeks has been very pleasing.”
- Q) You’ve had plenty of friendlies and chances to see the boys now in action
Lee: “They’ve been very good, from where we started in pre-season to where we are in this present day, the development and progress that they have made and the way I have asked them to play has been very pleasing, they’ve taken it on board, worked hard and I have now started to see the rewards. There’s still a lot of hard work to do, and hard work with the squads, but I’m very pleased with the progress they’ve made and where we are at this point.”
- Q) A lot of young first years coming in this year, and a tough physical test against Ash United’s first team – how did you think the game went?
Lee: “I was interested to see how they would stand up to the test. I did state to them that there will be a good physical test throughout the game and how you’d look to handle it. During the game they stood up to it well. There was good passing and movement throughout which was pleasing to see. At times they tried to disrupt our play but we stood up to it. It shows we have a different side to us if we need it.
- Q) First full season here for yourself was last season, so you’ve had plenty of time for recruitment this year – what can we expect from the new faces?
Lee: “I think you’ll see a little more technical ability. We need to get boys in to help bridge the gap from the Academy into the first team. Gary wants players who can handle the football and play, and I’d like to think we have that this season. It’s now just the other side where we need more physical development, but we’re looking good.”
- Q) With plenty new first years this year, can we look to see these boys staying on for the full 2 years of the programme?
Lee: “Yes that’s the long term plan and what I wanted to bring into this role. I inherited the squad from last year, we had some very good players in there and we had a very successful season. Lots of them have now moved on to different things which is great. It’s now a fresh start. We hope that when they hit the end of the second year, we may at that time have a third year option which will aid their development. It’s up to them how hard they work, and to show their commitment to the academy. There will be plenty of ups and downs over the season and it’s up to them to deal with it in the right manner and hopefully in a year’s time we will see a great progress.”
- Q) How has the work rate been on the training pitch?
Lee: “Fantastic. Every day they come in and work hard. They’ve come in and we’ve worked a lot on shape and how we want to play in different games and different scenarios. We’re going to need this throughout the season in the different leagues. The boys have taken the ideas on, they look fit and ready for the season ahead.”
- Q) Last season you built a good relationship with Barry Smith, he’s now moved on and Gary has returned, There’s a huge buzz around the place, but what is your relationship with him like so far?
Lee: “It’s been great from day 1. He relayed what he was looking for, and his ideas are exactly what we want. We’ve already had boys train with the first team over pre-season and it proves that the pathway is there. They have to be good enough for the level of football, but it shows that he will look at them if their good enough. He’s been fantastic with me, and fantastic with the Academy lads and long may that continue.”
- Q) We talk a lot about the football, but it is a college based programme, just how important is the college side for the lads?
Lee: “Its hugely important. It builds a foundation for them for a life outside of football. The education is hugely important, sometimes even more so than the football. We will work hard with them this year to make sure they get the grades to assist them with future pathways for any industry or higher education.”
- Q) For anyone reading this today, is there space left in the Aldershot Town Academy?
Lee: “We’re nearly there. We’re on the lookout for one or two more. If someone’s good enough that can benefit the group then there is space within the academy, but they have to be a right fit for the academy and to fit for what we are looking for. We are looking to build a good team spirit which is exactly what we have so far and if they come in they have to not disturb that.”