FC Halifax Town: “I’m excited about the future of the club” - Wild on his squad, recruitment and pre-season

Town boss Pete Wild says he wants to keep 95 per cent of his current squad, with the club set to announce their retained list by the end of the week.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 10:29 am
Football - FC Halifax Town v Chesterfield FC. Halifax manager Pete Wild.

The Courier understands that goalkeepers Sam Johnson and Harrison Davison-Hale, defenders Jack Senior, Tom Bradbury and Nathan Clarke, and midfielders Jeff King, Danny Williams, Dom Tear, Kieran Green, Luke Summerfield, Martin Woods, Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Jack Earing are all out of contract this summer.

But Wild is keen to retain the vast majority of those.

“We want to keep 95 per cent of the squad, but that is down to 95 per cent of the squad want to stay,” he said.

“We know 50 per cent will stay because they’ve got more than one year on their deal.

“But the rest of them have to make a decision and hopefully it’s a footballing decision they make.

“This week we’re going to try and get retain and release sorted out, we want that out by the end of the week.

“One of the things we tried to do last year was get some of our better assets on two-year deals and that will be the fight again this summer, to try and do that again, so it isn’t this circle of recruit, recruit, recruit.

“We understand that players will think they want to take their chances elsewhere, whether that’s for more money or footballing opportunities, we understand that’ll happen every year because of where we are in the food chain.

“We’ve identified targets we want to bring in to try and make us better again, and we’ve identified targets that, if certain people say no to us, we have a back-up target.

“They’ve all been identified through me, Milly (Chris Millington) and Gareth (McClelland).”After this week, it’ll be actively going and meeting the potential new recruits, getting in-front of them and getting a feel for them and them getting a feel for us. The sales pitch starts again really.”

Wild and assistant boss Millington had a four-month window after the enforced end of the 2019-20 season in which to plan in detail for the current campaign.

But recruitment for the season to come will need to be done in a much sorted time-frame this time round.

“Because we’ve now been in the job two years, we’re a bit more fortunate that we have a structure in place and we know what we want and who we want, we know who fits how we want to play,” said Wild.

“It’ll be mixed in as well with sitting down with Chris (Millington) and Joe (Sargison) and talking about our style, talking about our performance model - does it fit the purpose, what needs to be different for next season?

“You can’t stand still in this league, you look at some of the teams who have maybe stood still this year and it’s cost them, so we can’t stand still, we’ve got to try and become better, try and learn from the mistakes.

“So our analysis department are now looking at statistics of where we score goals, how we score goals, how we conceded goals, when we’re scoring. All that will inform our performance model and how we do things.

“Our strength and conditioning department are already looking at what some of the lessons are from last pre-season, did we push them too hard, is that why we got some injuries at that time etc.

“So they’re reporting back to us on our GPS data looks like, and that informs our pre-season model.

“So every department’s busy, they know what we need from them, and it’s about them reporting back to me and me trusting what they say and putting into place.”

Wild says he is working from an in-depth database of players from which signings will be made.

“One of the things I pride myself on is knowing most footballers in the league below this level, and the league above, and if I don’t know somebody, it’ll annoy me,” he said.

“So I know exactly the people who are coming out (of clubs), I have a spreadsheet that’s 200 lines long in terms of players at all levels.

“So I know exactly the type of player I want, I know exactly the type of player that we’re recruiting.

“Gareth had a massive push, when all the other leagues were off, of watching a lot of under 23s football, so Gareth’s massively au fait in that area.

“We had success with Billy Chadwick last season, we need to have more than one success in the under 23s market, so we still need to get better in that area.

“But having Gareth on board and him concentrating his efforts on the under 23s means that we know more under 23 players than we’ve ever known, so that can only be good for us.

“Last year I probably had 50 names on the list, and we went to meet 30 of them.

“We probably only want to be meeting 10, 15, but that depends on who wants to engage with us.”

The Town boss believes Halifax will be an attractive proposition for potential new faces.

“Football’s a small industry and players talk, and the good thing is I’ve already had players and agents ring me saying that they’ve heard really good things about what we’re doing, and they want to come and play for us,” he said.

“So that helps. When you do a good job, good news travels fast. But if we don’t get it right, all your hard work can be undone quickly, so yes, I think we’ve got a real big selling point as a football club, I think we are a real big selling point, we do things right, we do things to the best of our ability in the constraints we’ve got.

“If you want big money, you ain’t coming to Halifax, but if you want to be coached in the right way, have an environment that’s good to turn up to every morning, and people that put a lot of trust in you, then for me, that’s more than money will ever be.
“The grass isn’t always greener. The longer you’re in a place, the more structure you can put in place.

“Like I said when we signed our new deals, the foundations are in place at this football club now, and the future’s bright on and off the field at Halifax.

“I’m excited about the future of the club.”

When asked what he will be looking for from any new signing, Wild said: “First and foremost, they’ve got to be good people. Forget what good footballers they are, they’ve got to be good people.

“I spend more time with them than I do with my family, and one bad egg can ruin the harmony of the group.

“That was the biggest tick this year, we’ve got 25 good lads.

“Number two is are they a good footballer. If they can be athletic and a good footballer, even better, but we want athleticism where we can make them a better footballer or we want good, experienced footballers who can keep hold of the ball and dictate.

“You look at some of the older recruits in Martin Woods, Luke Summerfield and Jake Hyde, they might not be the quickest players, but they’re certainly excellent on the football, so there has to be a blend.

“We need some athleticism and we need some good footballers who, in the crucial games, can get on the ball and give it a calmness that it needs.”So good lads, good footballers and athleticism.”

Wild is happy with last season’s recruitment strategy, which focused on three different tiers of younger players with first-team experience, players in or around their prime and older heads to set and maintain standards on and off the pitch.

“That structure will stay,” Wild said. “That might be where some decisions go our way in terms of people staying and going, in terms of whether they like where they are in that structure.

“The finances dictate that but it allows everyone to know at what structure in the pay grade they’re at.

“I know a lot more clubs have taken on that model over the last 12 months. Speaking to Blackpool, they do the same, and it’s gone alright for them hasn’t it!

“When everybody walks through the door, there’s no ‘he’s on £50 more than me etc’, there’s three pay structures, that’s where we are and that’s how we get the best out of our budget, and that’s why, when we had to take the loan out, and cut some of the budget this year, that it didn’t leave us as short as it could have done.”

Wild wants to work with a squad of around 20 players.

“I like the figure of 20, because you’re always nearly in the squad and you’re always nearly out of it. I don’t want a soccer school because it causes me problems in the stands,” he said.

“And it has the room that, if you need to go out and get a loan or you feel like you need to bring a Neil Danns in like we did last season, that we have a bit of wriggle room to do so.”

Town will return for pre-season on July 19 but the players are expected to be back in the week before for initial testing.

Wild says work is ongoing regarding their pre-season fixture schedule.

“We’ve spoken to quite a few clubs and hopefully we can get some information on friendlies out pretty quickly,” he said.

“The issue is that the Football League start on August 7 and we’re coming back for pre-season nearly at the end of their pre-season.

“The Conference North and South start on August 14, so again you’re limited to the types of friendly that you’d like to have.

“So that’s another hard process to go through in terms of getting some friendlies in the bag.

“We’ve got a few confirmed, we’ll hopefully get them out in the next couple of weeks.

“We’re looking for a couple more that will probably end up having to be under 23s games against Prem or Championship under 23s, we’ll try and get them sorted in the next week or so.”

The Town boss wants half-a-dozen warm-up games before the campaign begins on August 21.

“We’re looking at six, that would be ideal, and build the minutes up across the weeks,” he said.

“But I don’t want friendlies for the sake of it, they all need to be against the right type of opposition, so if it means having less friendlies because the opposition’s not right, then we have to then host in-house games and do it that way if I don’t think they’re right.”