New Holwell Sports manager Andy Gray sets out long-term vision

Holwell Sports chairman Graham Lewin (left) welcomes new manager Andy Gray
Holwell Sports chairman Graham Lewin (left) welcomes new manager Andy Gray
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New Holwell Sports boss Andy Gray admits that bad memories of visits to Welby Road as player and manager helped persuade him to take the job.

Sports announced the appointment late on Tuesday night, ending a long search for a permanent successor to John Webster who resigned in November.

Gray, who enjoyed plenty of success at a higher step with Heather St John’s, agreed to discuss the vacant role after a trip to Holwell to watch his former side Ashby Ivanhoe last month.

He explained: “I have been managing for 18 years and not had a job since the end of last season so I thought it was time for a new project.

“We had a chat and I asked them what their plans were, and I told them what my plans were, and we seemed a good fit.

“Holwell is always one of those jobs that you covet; it’s a good old club with a good set-up.

“I never liked playing there or managing there because it was always a difficult place to go.”

After spending a few seasons treading water in the lower reaches of the East Midlands Counties League, Holwell are now in unfamiliar territory, having spent all but a few weeks of this campaign in the relegation places.

They sit third-bottom of the league, but within three points of the side immediately above them.

And Gray insists the concept of relegation does not concern him.

“I’m not even thinking about relegation because there are 20 games to play and plenty of points to play for,” he said. “We will be fine.

“The club doesn’t need a big overhaul, just some re-direction and fresh ideas.

“I have watched them a couple of times and there is talent there to work with.

He added: “I’ve spoken with the players and it’s just a case of getting them on the training ground and getting my methods across.

“There will be additions in time, but not an overhaul. I don’t think it benefits anyone to go to a club and bring a whole new squad in.”

Gray would like to make Welby Road his managerial home for the long-term and replicate his trophy-laden spell with Heather St John’s, but he warns that will only come with time and patience.

He explained: “I’m not here to do a Sam Allardyce and just focus on getting out of trouble, the job I’m here to do is build and take the club forward in the next few years, not months.

“It’s going to take time to get it right, but the long-term ambitions are to lift trophies and win the Premier Division.

“And if we work in the right ways and do the right things, these things can happen.

“At Heather I inherited the bare bones of a squad with limited ability and it took me four years to build that up.”

Gray has perhaps the toughest possible baptism on Saturday when his side travel to in-form Anstey Nomads who have moved onto the shoulders of the leaders thanks to a high-scoring run of five straight wins.

But the new manager’s immediate aim is to remove the fear of failure and encourage the players to focus on their games.

This, he believes, will then bring the right results and precious league points.

“Anstey are flying at the moment, but it’s not a panic to me if we get beat 5-0,” he said.

“I like to play good football, and to do this the players need to be relaxed and have confidence.

“At the moment confidence is low because of the run they have been on and they are worried about making mistakes.

“As long as we start implementing the methods I want that’s what’s important.”