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INTERVIEW: We have fingers in a lot of pies

David Holdsworth on the ongoing work to recruit players

10 June 2019

With the United squad due to return for pre-season training at the end of June director of football David Holdsworth confirmed this week that there is no sense of panic as his work to bolster the squad with manager Steven Pressley continues.

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“We’ve already secured a few defenders, which Steven was keen to do quickly,” he explained. “They were all players we’d been looking at prior to the end of last season because we knew it was quite possible there would be changes to our squad.

“That was a good start, and we’ve been patient with the players who have been offered deals. Steven has recognised that those players can’t be on the same deals they were on last season, and they certainly can’t be on the same bonus scheme – a scheme which has crippled the club for the last couple of years.

“We’ve got fingers in a lot of different pies and Steven has a blueprint in terms of the type of recruitment he wants to do. He knows what he needs to try and get us out of this division, and we’re doing a lot of hard work at the moment in terms of getting the type of profile of player that he wants. We’ve done well so far, but we’re also not going to panic even though we know there’s still much to be done.”

Speaking more about the groundwork done over the last few months, he explained: “When we decided to give Steven his contract extension it was imperative we found out what his plans were for the upcoming season, whether we went up via the play-offs or not.

“We also needed to establish that Steven recognised that there needed to be sufficient changes in the playing department going forward. One decision was made easy for us with Danny Grainger retiring, and we obviously wish him well, but contracts were then offered to players Steven felt he wanted to have here going forward.

“We’re still hopeful that one or two of the offered players will come back to us, and we wish Tom Parkes all the best at Exeter. There are still players within those we’re waiting to hear back from who we think might find the grass isn’t always greener.”

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And chief executive Nigel Clibbens confirmed that the scale of the task ahead isn’t a concern for anyone as the hard work continues.

“It’s been clear since this time last year that there was going to be a heck of a lot of work to do on recruitment,” he said. “We could see that from the number of players who were coming out of contract.

“We’ve only retained one of the players we recruited permanently in last summer’s window – Adam Collin – so we didn’t get the continuity, but we knew that could be the case.

“Sitting here now we know there’s a lot of work to do, but I think we’re in a better position to do that because we have a manager in place who has been in the job for six months now. We also have the support we didn’t necessarily have last year with David Holdsworth having been here for almost a year, so we have more ability to get our recruitment right.

“They’re working very hard, obviously having known the players who were coming out of contract and the loan deals which were coming to a close. They’ve been looking at targets and doing their homework, so we have more to go at and it gives you a better chance of getting what you want.

“It’s an exciting time because there are a lot of deals to be done but, as we’ve seen through early May, they can be done very quickly. In those periods where there isn’t any news, it doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening.”

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