NEW Woking FC manager Anthony Limbrick has been tasked to bring fame and good fortune back to the Surrey town within the next three years, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
The former West Ham United, Southampton and England under-17s youth coach was named as The Cards’ new front man to take over from Garry Hill.
Limbrick’s appointment was published on wokingfc.co.uk last Sunday (7 May), after it was revealed that neither Hill nor his assistant, Steve Thompson, had been offered new deals.
And while some Woking fans may have been hoping for a more instantaneously recognisable name to elevate the National League club back to the glory days, Limbrick’s curriculum vitae certainly packs some punch and shouldn’t be underestimated.
The board’s full-time appointment of the highly thought of Australian A-Licence coach is not only a sure sign that the club is prepared to think more laterally, but it is testament that it wants to invest wisely and move in a different direction; namely upwards.
Limbrick, 34, will now work closely with the club’s director of football Geoff Chapple to help bring about the necessary changes to put Woking’s name back on the footballing map – and for all the right reasons.
He said: “After moving over to England when I was 19, I always knew that I wanted to get into coaching and, thereafter, football management.
“When I met with representatives of Woking FC, we spoke at length about the club’s philosophy and their three-year plan to get into the [English] Football League, which is a vision I share too, so we’re very much on the same page.
“During my time in professional football, I’ve been fortunate to work with some great managers and players at Southampton and West Ham; from the under-14s right up to the under-23s.
“West Ham have been great to me, but when I found out about the opportunity to manage Woking, I didn’t give it a second thought; I knew it was the job for me.
The News and Mail understands that, while Limbrick won’t be given an open cheque-book to recruit at will, he will be given a financial uplift that certainly hampered Hill’s preparations last season.
With fresh new multi-million investment on the table, it’s an exciting time for the Kingfield-based club, who now have a manager in situ to drive public relations and suitably invoke their three-year football development plan.
During his five years at St Mary’s Stadium, Limbrick worked with the likes of former Southampton (now Arsenal) and England defender Calum Chambers, before relocating his affections to West Ham at Upton Park in 2015, and then the London (Olympic) Stadium last season.
In his various coaching roles, he has rubbed shoulders with Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham manager); Ronald Koeman (Everton manager), as well as former Southampton and Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins – to name just a few.
More recently, the Tasmanian-born coach has worked with Hammers’ boss Slaven Bilic, and paid great tribute to the fruitful working relationship he had with United’s academy boss Terry Westley, before he officially departed the east London club on Tuesday.
Woking’s move to appoint Limbrick on a three-year deal and move back to being a full-time operational model is likely to receive the thumbs up from The Cards faithful; many of whom still reminisce in the good of days of 1990s.
“It’s a great time to join Woking; it’s both an honour and a privilege.
“Over the course of the next few months, the club will be woking towards a five-day-a-week operational model, so both the senior and younger players can train full-time.
“I have already looked at the training facility in Tolworth; and while there are some good things about it, there are some things that I feel need changing, so we are going to see what other options might be available to us.
“The playing budget next season will be competitive too; and I believe it’s the right budget for this level of football.
“Recruitment is obviously key, which is something that Geoff Chapple has a lot of experience of at this level of football.
“He’s an experienced guy; we’ve spoken extensively already, and I see Geoff being a big player next season.
“There are some good young players from last season’s (2016-17) squad, such as Charlie Carter and Fabio Saraiva, who I would like to keep for next season.
“There are other players, of course, who won’t fit into what we’re trying to build at Woking, so it’s about getting a feel for which players add value and can be developed further.
“In the coming days and weeks, I will be meeting with players and agents, and speaking with the board about the plans for pre-season.
“It’s obviously still very early days yet, but it’s an exciting time for Woking Football Club.
In response to Limbrick’s appointment, Woking chairman, Rosemary Johnson, said: “Anthony is a young, well-qualified coach with extensive knowledge of football at all levels.
“His enthusiasm, along with the support that he will receive from Geoff Chapple, will provide a good mix of youth and experience to move the club forward next season.”
The new Woking boss is now looking to appoint an assistant manager, which he hopes to confirm later this month.
He is also looking to bring in a full-time analyst to support players’ ongoing development as part of a multi-functional managerial team.
In doing so, it will draw the emphasis away from just one person and hone in on the skills and key competencies of others in a bid to broaden the horizon and increase productivity.
Limbrick is currently studying for his UEFA pro-licence alongside former England internationals Nigel Clough, David James, Nicky Butt and James Beattie to illustrate his own footballing pedigree.