As we approach the half-way point of the Jewish football season, Division One managers reflect back on the first four months of the season, and tell us what they’re hoping for from the second half of the season.
Woodford Wanderers’ joint-manager Daryl Kay believes his side are the best team in the Division – and says his side can win the title.
Entering the second half of the season in second spot, a point behind the leaders, he says: “Our aim is simple – to secure promotion by being champions! I keep telling the boys that we’re the best team in this Division and I like to think I’m right. It’s been so far so good for us so far. We’ve lost only one game in 10, and as we said we would be pre-season, we’re much tougher and more clinical that last season. The only negatives I can offer are that we’ve found it difficult to play 90 minutes at high intensity, and instead only seem to “turn it on” for 45/50 mins per game – luckily that’s done the trick so far!”
But delighted overall, he says: “Our positives massively outweigh the negatives. We’ve found ourselves in some tricky situations in some games, but have had the resilience, strength and charisma to bring it back our way. We’re looking forward to two very interesting games against [leaders] Brady, they’ll be very exciting and we’re very much looking forward to them.”
Oakwood B manager Jason Stein is another boss who thinks his side can lift the title in May. He says: “We’re looking to win the league. We’re in a nice position – four points off the top with a game in hand so saying anything other than we’re targeting the title would be a lie. I’d also love to see us reach the Peter Morrison quarter-final which I believe we are more than capable of doing. Our aim at the beginning of the season was simply to stay up, but that goal changed very quickly when I saw what a committed, passionate and capable squad we had assembled.
“I’m not going to sit here and say “we will win the league”, but I am confident that if we apply ourselves, boost our performance level in the really big games and get a little of luck with injuries then of course we can. We’re taking it game-by-game so let’s see.”
SPEC player-manager Ricky Lawrence says his side are looking to finish in the top half of the table. He says: “Our season so far can be very easily broken down. We started very poorly not winning a game until October and then went on a six-game winning streak. Unfortunately, we lost our last game of the year but we’ve taken huge strides since the beginning of the season.”
Saying his aims for the side are the same as at the start of the season, he says: “We hoped to achieve a decent finish in the table and avoid scrapping for relegation, and while we look for good for escaping the drop, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. I’m very confident we can still achieve that, we’ve more than enough quality to be looking towards the top half of the table rather than the bottom end.”
Los Blancos’ joint-manager Jonathan Ison concedes it’s too late for his side to mount a title challenge, but isn’t ruling out a top-four finish. He said: “The first half of the season has been disappointing. We have quality in abundance, but unfortunately a lack of commitment amongst various squad members has let us down. We have had too many draws, and the reason is often because we’ve needed some fresh legs in the last 20 minutes or so but have not had the substitutes to bring on.
“But so long as the commitment gets better, I’m very confident. We also have had a few long term injuries who may return in the second half of the season, so I’m pretty sure things will only improve as the season continues.”
Real Sosobad jumped up two divisions in the summer, and their current sixth placing in the table is a satisfactory one for manager Daniel Shafron. He said: “That was always going to be very challenging, but I always said we had to embrace it and just enjoy each and every game. I feel that our very positive start, being top of the league for a while actually had a negative effect on us. We all felt that maybe our ambitions of a mid-table finish could have been well exceeded and suddenly our approach to games became more fearful of losing rather than the enjoyment of just playing to enjoy ourselves. We won’t win the league now, but must revert to our initial ambitions and most importantly play fear free which will allow the boys to express themselves positively.
Brixton are slowly edging their way up the table, and manager Robert Silverman is hoping for a further improvement over the second half of the season. He said: “Having been at the wrong end of the table for most of the season so far we are clearly disappointed. However, with several new signings, we are gradually shaping in to a decent side.
“Provided we get the expected commitment from the players, our results will improve and we should enjoy the second half of the season.”
Redbridge B are a place below them in the table, with Sam Rank saying: “The first half of the season has been challenging, which is due to having a complete new squad. I’m very pleased about spirit, commitment and desire from the squad, with the most disappointing thing about the season so far being that when we have been in winning or drawing positions, we’ve conceded late on. The positives are spirit and commitment, the negatives being conceding last minutes goals.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, he said: “The squad are hoping to consolidate with a mid-table finish. This season our aim for the RJC B was consolidation with a brand new team, and then to look at pushing forward for the following season. And with the spirit, desire and commitment we have in this squad and club, I believe very strongly we can achieve the goals of a consolidated mid table finish.