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Interviews

INTERVIEW: We want to embrace the community

More from David Holdsworth at the United for Business meeting

24 August 2018

In the second part of the coverage of guest speaker David Holdsworth’s introduction to the United for Business members on Tuesday night, he spoke more about his aims having recently taken up his new role.

What’s your target and how long do you think it will take you to realise that?

I want us to have a structured club from the bottom to the top. We’re dealing with a legacy, if you like, and we have to continue to deal with that for one more year. That’s things like contracts, but they will change. Contracts need to be offered which are relevant to player profiling. In a year’s time we’ll be in a better position. John inherited players who were on contracts, and it’s up to the fans to decide if they were good enough or not. All I’m dealing with is the structure going forward and how that’s relevant to what the club has in terms of its budget. That’s governed by a number of things, obviously.

The overall target has to be to create a structure, which includes a platform for the youngsters to come through, and also to get value for money for any player who represents our football club. We want to compete, but we all know the next year is going to be demanding. Hopefully we’ll be in a good position by Christmas, we’ll have had a go in the cup and we can benefit from that. Likewise, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, we need you on board. There’s no denying that we need you to help us, and we need you to ask your friends to help us.

We want to embrace the community, and I know there have been factions here and there over the years. That’s not relevant to me, but I will deal with it. I’m delighted I’m at this club, but the fact is we need the business community and we need the fans to be on board with us. Yes, we want to give you value for money, and hopefully we’ll do that on the pitch. From the game we’ve seen so far, we now know we get honest performances, which is what any fan wants from their team.

Going forward we need to look at all aspects of the football club. We’re doing that and it’s a full-on job at the moment. Trust me, we will work our socks off to achieve it, and we’ll give it everything we can.

Every club needs its hardcore of businesses to be supportive and I’ll gladly come and meet every one of you one-to-one. If you have something to say, talk to me, or talk to the club. My phone is always on and if there’s anything I can do to get you to embrace what we’re trying to do then, like I say, I will do it.

I think you’re preaching to the converted here, it’s the ones that are staying away for whatever reason that we need to get back?

Please echo the message if you can. I’m going to speak to the press as well to get our messages out. We need people on board. I like winning, but a win isn’t always shouting and screaming, sometimes it’s a handshake or a gesture of goodwill. I want the club to do that for you. If you’ve got friends, bring them along next time, I’ll talk to people, visit people and put the work into the club. It’s about taking the time and having the respect to do it.

Are there similarities between us and Mansfield and Lincoln in terms of lack of cash?

When I went into both of those clubs we needed snookers. It was awful, Lincoln was a really tough job. At Mansfield, at the end of the season when we’d stayed up, they thought they were going to go bust and I was telling players not to sign because they had families. It was difficult to tell them not to sign when they were telling me that they liked playing for me. I had to be honest and tell them we had no money. They had children and I wanted them to be looked after, but what it got down to was real human thoughts. I said that to five or six players, and that’s really tough.

When the new chairman came in at Mansfield, we didn’t get on. We’d just beaten York 5-0 and he said he wanted to bring a taller midfield player in. I said wow, we’ve just won 5-0. But I got the gist of what he wanted to do. I was quite annoyed at him, and about four years later I bumped into him at a cricket match. He came up to me and said he was really sorry, and if he’d have known what he knew then, we wouldn’t have fallen out.

Going back to the question, this club needs to be stable and solid without giving out ridiculous contracts. The fans also need value for money on the pitch so they have something to shout about. That’s what we aim to do.

Assuming you can sort that out, what do you think the potential is for the club?

I think it’s got great potential. It’s a great city with great people in it, we just need to bring people together. I think that’s something the whole club has got to look at, certainly the influential side of it. I’ll be doing it, John [Sheridan] will always attend what he’s asked to attend as our manager. He’ll tell you himself, all he wants to concentrate on is the football, he’s a football person.

The potential is huge, we can get 6 to 7,000 people here, maybe more. We’ve got to start again, and sometimes change has to happen.

Are you hoping for any additional players before the loan window closes?

We can’t have any more loan players in the squad, we’re only allowed 5, so that’s all done. We’re hoping everybody stays fit, but there are one or two players out there at the moment who are free agents that I’m aware of. But that’s down to John, he picks the players, and if there are one or two that he likes, we might ask you guys to give us a bit of help! In all seriousness, our finger is on the pulse, you’d never say never because you can end up finding some hidden gems.

Do you think fans’ expectations run away with themselves?

Going into the Port Vale game there will be fans who have seen that we’ve beaten Cheltenham and think we should be going into two home games and getting six points, if only it was that easy. As fans, everyone wants to dream, and everyone wants to believe in their football club, and why not?

You mentioned before about commitment, you were committed to Watford for 15 years or so and we’ve had players in the past who have turned down big moves because they’ve been committed to us, do you think that’s lacking in football these days? They all seem to have the ambition to play for Man Utd.

I go back to an earlier comment, is it the ambition of the lad to play for Man Utd or is it the ambition of their parents? An ethos of a football club is to try and bring people through and for the kids to feel wanted. I stayed at Watford for so long because I knew there was an opportunity to play. I could have signed for West Ham, Tottenham or Coventry, but I wanted to play. Not one West Ham player from their youth team played in their first team. I think there was one at Tottenham, but I played over 350 games for Watford and I was very proud of that. The dream now is to play at the highest level, but we want to bring kids through. Isn’t it nice when you get a local lad come through for your team?

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