Interest in the retained and released list grows almost as soon as the last ball is kicked in anger each season and it was no different at Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon when questions thrown at manager Chris Beech very quickly turned from match analysis to queries about contract negotiations and ins and outs.
“The retained and released lists haven’t been finalised but we’ve got good players here who I want to reengage with,” he said. “David [Holdsworth] did a great job last summer and hopefully he can do the same again to help support the difficulties we have to try and hold on to good players who will be wanted players.
“We’ve got to make sure we try our best with that and make sure the players who are here have a good rest, and are then ready for a good pre-season, which is hopefully normal.
“The aim for us to be to try to make things better. That’s individual players, the way we play, and everybody who is in a position to make it better. As staff we have to get better to improve the players, and the players have to strive to want to improve.
“We’ve got a few fights on our hands now in terms of retaining some really good players, and we’ll go into the open market with that because there are more suitors who will pay more money.
“The buy-in for these lads is me, us, how we play, what we do and the great club that we are. We obviously want to represent our supporters in that. The football has stopped and now we go into lots of phone calls and negotiations.”
“I’ve said in previous interviews that I want to retain 99 per cent of us,” he continued. “We’ve done well, and there’s a chance of doing better by sticking together.
“As we’ve said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that some of them will have other choices, but they’ll probably choose football in front of finance. They know what they get from me, the environment we create on the training pitch, and they know how we want to play.
“I do want to upskill the way we play and some individuals in basic elements of football, and the more complex parts. But there’s lots of energy out there, at times a lot of quality, but of course we are losing Joshua Kayode to Rotherham and Ethan Walker’s going back to Preston.
“It will be difficult to hold on to some but if they stay, they’re staying for the right reasons. I want them to stay, of course I do, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
And if the majority of the players who will enter talks can be tied down, he spoke about the solid foundation that can be built on the lessons learned from the season just gone.
“I want the lads to understand the lessons they’ve learned individually,” he commented. “They’ve worked hard and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but the football immune system, they have to build that up.
“But when you think about it, we’ve played half a season in 11 weeks. That’s commendable that the boys have gone and done that. They’ve done great in their efforts within that and in becoming hard to beat.
“Obviously we wanted to win more but then you rely on mini-difference – the width of a post, bar, a shot, a decision in the last third. We’ve been very close to winning many of those games.
“And many of the games we lost in that poor period we were winning most of them, but of course we’d been punched in the belly and I don’t think the boys could do 12 rounds at that point, really.
“When we talk about all of this we have to remember that people have lost their lives through all of this period. We have to be mindful of that. I think this season has been a bit of everything but there’s a lot of learning going on from everybody.”
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