This week, we spoke to NW London, a club that currently plays at Step 11 within English football. We took the time to speak to the manager of the club Wasim Khan.
The club was formed 7 years ago, what was the reason behind the club forming?
Initially it started out as a Sunday team with myself & close friend (Samir Naji) who wanted the enjoyment of playing together with friends as we both had played at different clubs on Saturdays. As we knew the non league system quite well, we managed to put together a very strong team which became very successful very quickly on a Sunday.The rest you could say is history, as we’re now a Step 7 club within a short amount of time.I moved from being a player manager, to being a full time manager in 2018 once we entered the non league system.
What attracted you to NW London FC?
It started out being something we enjoyed as we were 2 young owners of a club, myself being the manager & Samir who dealt with the admin side. We noticed the freedom we had in terms of how we wanted to develop the club & make important decisions in terms of the values of a football club.
We were 2 players who had played at various clubs in London & being in our early thirties we had many refreshing ideas on how to move forward as a football club in this day & age.
What is the aim for the club in the short/medium/long term?
In the short term, we are still in 3 competitions and our ambition is to win all 3. We feel we have put together a fantastic squad & there is no reason why we can’t achieve our objectives.
Medium term, we’d like to reach Step 5 in the next couple of seasons. Since we entered Saturday football in 2017, we’ve played numerous times against teams from Step 4-7 & always given good accounts of ourselves to show that we are progressing as a football club & know how good we can be.
Long term, I never like to set limits, the highest you can go from the non league system, is eventually arriving into professional football. Of course that would become a huge project but i always feel if you have high objectives, then your work starts to reflect a high standard & naturally you begin to progress.
You sit in 6th so far this season, do you want to improve on that as the season progresses and what is your target?
After Saturday, we’ve now moved to 5th in the League & as mentioned previously, our goal is to win the League which was the target from the start of the season. We have a number of games in hand along with having beaten the current top 2 away from home. Our goal ratio is fantastic, so we’ve shown our level, there is no reason that we can not win the League.
How important are players such as Kaue Da Silva for you to achieve your targets?
Kaue is a special talent, he’s a very decisive player who we feel is getting even stronger given the fact he’s been able to have a full season for the 1st time in a couple of years. He played professionally in Brazil as a youngster & now he plays in a more advanced role for us which is why I think there is more to come.Outside of tactics, sometimes football is about the 1 on 1 & he can be devastating in this mode which he has shown in many games this season.
Where do you see the side developing during your time with the club?
We’ve always received plaudits for our style & quality of play which in non-league can be something hard to come across. Sometimes you get the best view of your team from opposition managers & we’ve always been rated highly in terms of how we play.
We appreciate the compliments but I’ve always had the belief that playing in a technical way gives you the best chance to be the strongest team, so we’ve always played with an objective of being the best team at our level which we will always continue to do.
Who do you think will be the hardest team to take on in the division?
Given that teams in the Middlesex League have the luxury of recruiting players from a core part of a city where over 9 million people live, it means that every team has quality players that have made it a very competitive League. The way the League table looks is evidence of that.
If i were to single out a team, i’d say the toughest game can potentially be Clapton away, given the amount of support which sometimes to players who are less experienced at this level, it can be easy to start playing the occasion as opposed to the game.
What are the plans on and off the field for the club?
We’re very forward thinking, we know that the way people consume football is changing & being younger owners than you would see normally, we’re proactive in terms of how we market the club, the charity initiatives & just the general way of looking after our players.
We introduced the first part of the youth structure this season with an U-21 & we’d like to have a full youth section within the next couple of seasons.
We’ll always look to be innovative & that hopefully means more success on and off the pitch.
What makes NW London unique with many local clubs around?
I think first & foremost our quality of technical play is now starting to be well respected for those who know teams at our level.
The progressive thinking in terms of the values that we have, for instance, selling 100+ shirts worldwide which carried the ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan allowed us to get alot of publicity for a club which is at the bottom of the ladder.
Also the values in our professionalism which have created a good reputation. We’re forward thinking in our training & try to give the players the best conditions physically even though we only train twice a week.
Do you think covid will bring more people into watching non league games?
I think you’ve started to see evidence of that, people beginning to reassess how important local clubs are. Also the fact now, with the online world, clubs at non-league level can connect with fans just as much as a professional club can which should in turn bring more following hopefully.
If you could change one thing about non league football what would it be?
I’d say, support from the government & the Premier League would have a massive impact. Current training facility costs are especially high & clubs are already under strains financially. If the government or premier league were to help clubs in the lower end of the non league system, you would reap the benefits as you’d improve the quality of young players, coaches & eventually increase the standard of the national game.
It’s now to find out a bit more about the man himself, what club do you support?
I used to be a huge Arsenal fan, however once I started managing, my love has gone more into understanding how the beautiful game works.
What was your best moment as a player
Many moments at different teams but i’d say toward the back end of my playing time, taking NW London to play and win a tournament at the Emirates stadium & playing in a stadium that i always dreamt of playing at, was something to always remember.
What was the best team you played in?
Even though i had some good success at different Saturday clubs, nothing was better than playing for the club you formed & managed in our 1st season, regardless if it was on a Sunday initially. So NW London again!
What Coach did you learn the most from?
I’ve always been heavily influenced by Arsene Wenger, so much to the point in my recent years, i’ve studied many of his philosophies about football. Other managers I admire alot include Guardiola, Pellegrini & Tele Santana who coached Brazil in 82.
What are your aims in management?
Management is a huge role with big responsibility especially at this level where you make more decisions that affect the club. All I do is try to take it every season by season & assess at the end of it. I don’t like to set limits, so my goal is to give absolutely everything to achieve the objectives for the season.