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MANAGER: I want good people at the club

Paul Simpson on Paul Gerrard, Mark Howard, Geoff Haugh and Keiren Westwood

11 May 2022

A hugely positive part of what has been a ‘whirlwind of information’ start to this week was confirmation that keeper coach Paul Gerrard was staying with the club, with boss Paul Simpson clearly delighted that a swift agreement had been reached.

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“Gez is good at what he does, and that’s why I wanted him here,” he said. “I want good people with me.

“He’s shown us he has good knowledge of his job, and he’s actually now got a big job on because we need a keeper to add to the three – and I include Magnus in that, because I hope he stays, along with Gabe and Scott – who will help all of them to push to a level where they’re competing to start, or they become a saleable asset which helps the club to move on.

“As a coach and a professional he’s got a great way of working and I’m pleased we’ve got that one sorted. The changes we’ve made, I’ve made a change on the sports science and fitness side, I do think we’ve got a good group of staff that helps take us forward. 

“I want good people who’ve got the club at heart and who want to do things properly. Geoff Haugh will be coming in as a rehab assistant, to make sure we tick all those boxes and get things done properly.

“It’s another member of staff who I believe will help us maximise the player availability and do everything that will help us to take the team further forward than we were this season.”

Getting the Gerrard business over the line wasn’t without complications, with interest in his services from elsewhere always in play.

“I think him coming in, he’s realised what a good opportunity this could be,” the gaffer told us. “He has had some enquiries about other clubs, but I think to be honest with you, I’ve bent his ear for the last couple of weeks about wanting him to stay.

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“We got to a point where I felt we made a really good offer for him to come up here. I can’t really claim the credit, I know the chairman had a chat to him on Sunday night.

“Gez came to me and said look, I’ve just listened to what the chairman’s got to say, I’m in. I said let’s have a chat again tomorrow morning when neither of us have got any red wine in our system and we’ll go again.

“Thankfully on Monday morning the conversation carried on, we got it all finalised in the afternoon, he’s here.

“We’re going to need his expertise, so I’m delighted that we’re done and dusted.”

Right at the top of the list of priorities will be adding that new face between the sticks, with the departure of Mark Howard also confirmed at the start of the week.

“I am confident that we will find somebody, and that’s the challenge we’ve now got,” he told us. “Mark had a really good season, but every decision that’s made in a football club, whether that be a team selection, a signing or a release, there will be people who will have a different opinion on it.

“I just have to accept that I’m not going to please everybody all the time, so there’s no point in losing sleep over that. One thing I will do is continue to make decisions that I think are for the long-term betterment of the club.

“I can’t guarantee I’ll get them all right, but what I have to do is get more right than wrong because that’s what keeps me in a job and pushes this club forward.

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“The truth is we’re in a position where I’m looking to make everything better at the club. Mark Howard in my 15 games has been excellent in terms of his shot-stopping and personality around the club.

“I’ve got no problem about that. What I want to do is build something and I’ve said this so many times - I’m trying to build with a long-term view in mind for the football club.

“I’m also fully aware I need to have a short-term answer to make sure I stay in the job to have that longer-termvision. I’m building for the future. I think this is the opportunity to start it now.

“I’m not going to go into any individual situation, all of my decisions have been made with the future of the club in mind. That’s the same for every one of the players who’ve been released.

“They’ve all done well, I can’t thank them enough for the work they’ve done. Sadly in football a time at a club comes to an end at some point.

“For those players out of contract it’s given us the opportunity to move players on and start with a group we think will help to improve us on and off the grass.”

“I don’t have a specific name in mind to replace Mark as yet,” he added. “I’m not set as to who is going to come in.

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9 May 2022

“I’ve spoken about the fact we’ve been looking at players but I would never make an approach for another player because it’s not right, it’s against the rules, it’s not respectful to another club.

“I have had conversations about possibility of loan goalkeepers coming in, and finding out who’s available. There’s been lots of conversations but I don’t have anybody in mind.

“With Mark sweeping up the awards on Sunday I know people will see what I’ve done as a strange decision. It doesn’t change my mind on where we need to go.

“Every decision, whether I’ve retained or released them, there will be a group of people who say yeah, that’s the right decision, and also a group who’ll say that’s a rubbish decision.

“I’m in a position where I can’t please everybody. I’ve got to a point in my life where I’ve realised that and don’t worry about it. I do what I believe is the right thing for the club and that’s why I’ve done it.”

Rumours surfaced this week about a possible link with yet another familiar face.

“What I would say is I’ve got massive amount of respect for Keiren Westwood in what he’s done in his career,” he said. “But if I was going to be thinking of Keiren Westwood I’d have kept Mark Howard. Simple as that, really.”

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