Team must match off-pitch progress, says Cards’ boss

DARREN Sarll has refused to be drawn on where Woking might finish in the Vanarama National League in 2023 – but he says the club should focus on growth on and off the pitch.

“The ambition is just progress,” the Cards’ boss told the News & Mail.

The Cards’ Boss Darren Sarll

“Off the pitch, the club has improved beyond recognition since John [Katz] and Drew [Volpe] have taken ownership.

“What we have to do now is to keep up with that growth.

“Will it grow on both sides, off the pitch and on the pitch, in a year to become a Football League team? Who knows? No-one has got a crystal ball.

“We’ve got to keep growing, and we’ve got to get more competitive.

“It’s the second season of being full-time. And we’ve managed to improve its full-time provision, with added elements to our programme that weren’t here.

“For example, we’re using a gym for the first time in training. Something as basic as that means we can now do our pre-season preparation utilising lifting equipment, strength training and so on.

“We’re hoping that all these little things add to improvements.”

The 39-year-old took some time off during the summer but insisted that he was still working on getting players into the club.

Sarll said: “John and I were speaking three or four times a day, no matter where we were in the world. What we were doing was getting through those conversations.

“That’s why we’ve worked at quite an intense pace when I look at the other business done in the National League.

“That’s happened because we’ve got ourselves ready and prepared ourselves. I knew what I wanted it [the team] to look like – and because of that, I can act when and if those options [players] drop.

“You can’t be any other way. If everyone is willing to work a minute longer, a minute harder, to get one extra point, you have to.

“You know as a football manager that it’s a ruthless industry, and you need to ensure that you try to stay ahead of it.

“There are hundreds of people who would want the manager’s job.”

Sarll believes that character is a crucial component when choosing which players he wants to sign.

“You’ve got to have character –because any confrontation takes character, them going into some duel, some fight. A large amount of determination comes into that moment.

“Everything at this stage of the season comes to recruitment. Concentration, the character, that determination to make sure you see the game through comes from recruitment.

“That’s not a slight on anyone’s coaching, that’s not a slight on anyone’s man-management, that’s not a slight on anyone’s tactics – it comes from players. These things become important if you sign players with character, robustness and resilience.

“A lot of my game is based on intensity – confrontation, aggression, duelling with an opponent, a lot of that sort of stuff.

“You’ve got to have people who can athletically compete with that. You look at the other side of the Scott Cuthbert/Luke Wilkinson players, and towards the athleticism of Dan Moss, James Daly, Reece Grego-Cox, Tyreke Johnson, Jack Roles and Rohan Ince, they have very good athleticism.

“Mentality comes from recruitment and who you sign. I don’t have to tell Scott about the importance of work ethic. Scott has made 478 (English and Scottish) League appearances in 17 years.

“He hasn’t done that through cutting corners. He’s done that because he’s a very good professional.

“He had a good upbringing at Celtic, and they naturally bring that mentality.

“If you sign losers, you get a losing team. If you sign born-and-bred winners, you get a winning team.”

Woking began pre-season training on Thursday 23 June, and Sarll made clear from the start what he expected from his players.

He said: “Pre-seasons should be tough. Why wouldn’t they be tough if you’re preparing for 10 months of competition?

“We get that into them by repeating that way of playing all the time.

“We’re not the biggest-spending team in the division, and we’re not going to have the biggest squad. We’ll have to utilise the strategies accordingly with our resources.”

For the full interview, get the 30 June edition of the News & Mail

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