Next up in our series of our interviews is Max Howell, manager of Southall currently playing the combined counties premier division. We spoke about changes at Southall and the hope to take the club back to it’s home of Southall in the future.
How much are you looking forward to the season ahead?
Personally I’m looking forward to getting back into the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday routine of it all. It’s been a long wait to get back training and playing for everyone, I think all football people at all levels are looking forward to this season ahead more than any other.
How was your pre-season?
It was good to get the boys back in together and playing again, gave us a chance to look at a few things aswell, results wise was pleasing we held our own against higher opposition which I feels important going into the season.
Any new signing/outgoing since last season?
Lockdown claimed a couple, one of the lads is now a red wine connoisseur so I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again, with the age of the group aswell some have had kids work commitments priorities change etc so we’ve adapted to that with some new faces and we’ll look to add more.
How important has it been to keep hold of high performing players from the past seasons?
To be fair to our boys they’re an honest bunch most have been with the club 3-4 years now, we know they had calls/interest over the summer like most years but we’re fortunate enough they’re happy here which gives us the core group to build from.
Have you made any changes to your coaching team for this season?
One of the lads left to take up a management position, so we promoted from within to balance things out. Other than that no changes.
This season is the 150th in the club’s history, are you looking to make it a memorable one?
150 years is special for any club, The board have done so well off the pitch raising the profile of the club especially the last couple of seasons, As players and staff we’ll do all we can to win games and we’ll see where we are
You now have been at the club since 2016, are you looking to guide the club to promotion this year?
Like I said before as a group we’ll be doing our best to win as many games as we can then if that’s enough at the end of the season it would be great, but it’s not something we mention to the lads or something that’s really spoke about around the dressing room.
Is the club’s ultimate aim off the pitch to return to Southall in the next few years?What will this mean to the club if it can achieve it?
Getting a ground of our own and ‘coming home’ will mean the world to everyone connected to the club, The chairman and board have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for years now they deserve it. From a footballing perspective It will give us a base to build from and an opportunity to grow the football club ie youth teams, kids teams community schemes etc.
What is the club’s target for this season?
Secure a ground with Ealing council and continue to grow and develop both on and off the pitch. You can sign up here to help the club https://view.flodesk.com/pages/6107c3f717e156317f9834a5
Do you think/hope the season will be completed this time? What do you make of the league front loading fixtures?
To be honest it’s been difficult balancing real life with football we kicked off on 31st July, my center half spent opening day of the season in Ibiza having selfies with wayno and firing into love island rejects we’ve had lads isolating, working weddings etc, we took 12 players to reading city and got beat. But after the last couple of years for everyone I think perspective is important, pre covid that wouldn’t have happened. I’m guessing it’s been disjointed for most clubs unless they’re contracted or full time so we’ll get on with what we have.
Who do you think will be the hardest team to take on in the division given the sideways moves?
Honestly until we’re 15-20 games in and things settle down I think everyone will be beating each other, Theres been no footy for the best part of 18 months I don’t think anyone is going to hit the ground running, there’s a lot of good well runs sides in this league so momentum will be important.
Who is the player we should be looking out for in your squad?
Boring answer I know but I wouldn’t single any of them out as it’s probably the strongest group we’ve had in the time I’ve been here so we’ll see how we get on.Although I will say we held positive talks with a LB the other night – his words he’s a cross between ‘Stuart Pearce and Ashley Cole’ so watch this space.
What are the biggest issues facing non league and your respective club?
Apart from wine connoisseurs and a hungry centre half, I think adjusting to life after covid the early fixture pile up, standard of officiating could be improved, we had 4 red cards in our first 4 games back 1 stone wall lack of discipline – others questionable. But I guess/hope that will all improve with games and playing again.
Do you think covid will bring more people into watching non league games?
I hope so it will be good to see people out and enjoying themselves at games making up for lost time supporting their team.