“It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but I can’t wait to get started. It is a new challenge and a great platform to work on.”
Jamie Howell - EBFC Manager
Excited! That was Jamie Howell’s first message to Eastbourne Borough club workers and staff on Tuesday, when he met them for the first time. And within half an hour, that excitement was clearly contagious as the new Sports boss outlined his hopes and plans.
“It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but I can’t wait to get started. It is a new challenge and a great platform to work on. I go back with fond memories to the teams of Tuck and Smart and Crabby – a sense of strength between players and supporters. This feels the right place and time for another chapter.”
What is your initial aim, Jamie? “Progress! I’d be foolish to come in and say we will do this or achieve that – you just set yourself up for a fall. I do want to get to the Conference National and I don’t want to be mid table for ever, but we measure our progress one win at a time, not with grand statements.
“In the short term, we want simply to play attractive football and win games. In the medium and longer term, I envisage a team built on predominantly local players – not just Eastbourne of course, but Sussex players. Then people identify with them and want to come and watch them.
“And I don’t want people who come just for top money. As a manager you must get the best out of what you’ve got, and supporters, just like me, want to see players giving 100% effort for the club – we try to make it happen financially too of course, but I need players who want to play for Eastbourne Borough and want to play for me.
And your back-up staff? “My key assistants are Danny Bloor and Ian Simpemba, whose exact roles will evolve as the close season proceeds. It is not just about job titles. I’ve brought in Danny to be a sounding board, for his extensive knowledge of Sussex football, and to identify the right players for us. Ian is a club legend, massively respected in the dressing room as well as by the fans. He will still be part of the playing squad as well as taking a major coaching role.
New faces in the squad? “I’m inheriting the core of a squad and I’ve a fair idea of what players can do. It won’t be a case of wholesale changes. Getting Ian on board gives us the continuity and he’s already been really helpful and very insightful for me. But I won’t make too many judgements until I’ve seen them on the training pitch and producing what I want. Some players are on contract already, we might lose one or two others, but the team that starts the season will be fully focused.”
And any change to the daytime training regime? “I have no final view yet. Daytime does marginalise the type of player we can bring in, and there may be a case for reverting to evenings. But let’s not rush to judgement on that.”
What’s the Jamie Howell brand? “I have a clear system that I want my teams to play. You can put in all the effort you want, but unless you understand the system and your role, you might not succeed. Right from the start of my own football education, I steadily realised that the successful teams we were coming up against – Ajax or Barcelona – were instilling and playing a set system. Now then, I can’t believe God decided that all the best ball-playing footballers had to be born in Catalonia or Holland!
“You have to create a path-way , including through youth and academy. You have to breed players who, first and foremost, have mastered technique and are comfortable with the ball at their feet. Then the tactics become relatively easy.”
Style or substance? “If you ask me the balance between playing the beautiful game and getting results, I have to say results are paramount – if your style of football means you’re losing every week, that isn’t going to go down too well! Borough should always be known for playing winning football, and if that is attractive as well, then that’s brilliant.”
A busy old time coming up, then? “If I was looking to a quiet summer with the family, I don’t somehow think that’s going to happen! But yes, I’m really excited to get going and grateful for this opportunity. Supporters want to see us winning and enjoying our game, and that is a two way process. I will be around the place an awful lot and I hope I’m always accessible – come and talk to me! We want Borough to be both a club and a community. We will be working with you and playing for you.”
A video of the interview is available here
Updated 07:52 - 12 May 2017 by Lee Peskett