FURIOUS Woking boss Garry Hill has dismissed speculation that he could be set to leave the club after overseeing Saturday’s abject departure from the FA Cup.
Facing questions about his Kingfield future straight after the 3-0 reverse at Maidenhead United, Hill admitted that this latest loss is perhaps the worst of his spell in charge, having taken over the hotseat from previous manager Graham Baker in 2011.
However, ever the optimist, the former Dagenham & Redbridge chief’s message for concerned Cards supporters is that he is up for the fight to try and turn things around; his current contract running until the end the 2016/17 season. He said: “I feel very disappointed; not low. I’ve had four-and-a-half wonderful years at the club with [assistant manager] Steve Thompson.
“[We’ve got a] great relationship with the supporters; they’ve backed us, [and] love us. I’m at the football club until May
2017: I’m not going anywhere as far as I’m concerned.
“But we are in a period where we, as a management team, and me as a manager, will have to take a lot of responsibility for the players who are going out on the park. They need to do a lot better because today is not acceptable.”
Currently sitting in 16th place in the Vanarama National League standings, a run of two league wins in the last two months (ahead of this Saturday’s visit to bottom side Kidderminster Harriers) has come as something of a bump back down to earth for fans after last year’s play-off push ended with a seventh-place finish.
Having recently turned 56-years-old, experienced operator Hill may feel like a victim of his own success, having competed and bested former Football League sides with Woking’s modest part-time budget.
With just playmaker John Goddard signed on contract terms at the close of a successful 2014/15 campaign, Hill has seen his new-look current squad decimated by a spate of injuries, notably losing reliable goal source Scott Rendell and new defensive rock Ismail Yakubu for the entire season.
It has certainly proved an uphill task so far this term for Woking; relying more than ever on the loan market, with regulars like captain Mark Ricketts and his midfield partner Joey Jones also just returning from injury.
In the intervening weeks, the Woking boss has opted to blood young talent like Kadell Daniel and Bruno Andrade – no longer being able to call upon the services of battle-hardened pros such as defender John Nutter and forward Kevin Betsy; the pair
having hung up their boots over the summer.
That reliance in youth has unsurprisingly resulted in inconsistent form this season: with highs of a 2-1 win over (then unbeaten) Forest Green Rovers marred by displays like the cup shock at the hands of lower league opponents Maidenhead – despite the Cards’ boss warning against complacency.
“It was a tricky tie on paper but [I’m] very, very, very disappointed. We’ve lost our way. We’ve got players who are low on confidence in some ways; some players are lacking consistency; we’re not doing enough.”
The Woking board will have happily banked the £12,500 prize money afforded the winners of last weekend’s Fourth Qualifying Round tie – perhaps to splash in the January transfer window – but Hill has told the playing staff already on the books that they need to start earning their money.
“It’s going to be a long winter and we’ve got a long six months in front of us at the present time to turn round and put things right so that the football club stay in this division and start building again.
“On the 25th of each month ever since I’ve been at Woking Football Club, direct debit payments of wages of football players get paid in their bank accounts. In the four-and-a-half years since I’ve been at that football club, the club have been superb in every way.
“[It’s] very tough out there for football clubs; us even more so being a part-time club… but the supporters, the sponsors, the board of directors have worked ever so hard throughout to make sure that they deliver for the players and for me, and I’m afraid today there’s no excuses.
“All players have got plenty of excuses after the game but they have to take a look at themselves, and I have to take a look at myself. The supporters of Woking Football Club ask for one thing: that’s called honesty. The supporters have been short-changed in a big way; I’m not happy about it.”
Hill followed up the defeat by listing his entire squad for loan.