Article courtesy of wpl.cymru/news/Bangor-Citys-Nicholson-eager-and-excited-ahead-of-201718-kick-off/108220/
He labelled the job as the biggest challenge of his coaching career so far upon his unveiling as Bangor City’s new manager in May, but Kevin Nicholson has enjoyed every minute of his experience so far at The Bangor University Stadium and is very keen indeed for the domestic campaign to get underway for them on August 11th.
‘It is an exciting start to play the champions of last season in the first game, a very tough test but a great opportunity for the players to compare themselves to an outfit that have a had a lot of success in recent years, but more importantly it is just good to be at home in front of our fantastic support.
‘We’re just really looking forward to getting going, regardless of who we face first, and we’re going to be doing everything we can to make sure that the club has a positive start to the season.
‘We’re all in this together as a club, the players, coaches, supporters, everyone who works at the club too, we’re all doing this and putting as much work as possible into the club to make sure that we do as well as can when the action starts properly on Friday. I’m not going to make predictions, I think all we can ever do is just focus on the next challenge, the most important game is the next one and then we’ll just take it from there.
‘We want to put in the best possible performances, week after week, to try and pick up the points and then see where that takes us.’
’Pre-Season has been very useful … but we just can’t wait for Friday.’
The turnover of personnel at The Bangor University Stadium this summer has been significant, with some of The Citizens’ better players from last term moving on to pastures anew – such as Henry Jones, who secured a big move to AFC Fylde – however Bangor have recruited very well to more than adequately replace their outgoings.
Eight players at the time of writing have joined The Citizens’ ranks, including the club record signing of Accrington Stanley’s Brayden Shaw on a permanent basis, after impressing during a short-term loan to the Gwynedd club last year, as well as AFC Fylde’s Tom Kennedy, York City’s Danny Holmes, Wrexham’s George Harry and many more.
What was a well-equipped and balanced squad last season only appears to have improved this term, and Nicholson pointed to this as a key factor within the group, as well as hailing the work the entire team has done throughout their preparations.
‘The club has brought in a number of good players over the summer, individuals with a lot of experience, as well as some talented younger players who we’re hoping can have an impact throughout the season; we feel that we’ve got a good blend of experience and youth in the squad, which will hopefully allow us to be successful.
‘Any player can be improved, whether they’re experienced or younger, and our more youthful players do have a lot of potential, but it isn’t just up to us as coaches to achieve that – they have to put in the work too, and I think these players will show that desire to want to improve.
‘Pre-Season has been very useful in order to develop this squad; you can win all the games you want and perhaps that brings with it a certain confidence, but for us – although we have won games – our preparations have been about getting everyone fit, trying different concepts and trying to make sure everybody gels and understands each other, and we just can’t wait to get going on Friday.’
’We learnt a lot from both games.’
The Citizens acquitted themselves well against Danish challengers Lyngby BK in their return to The Europa League Qualifying Rounds earlier in the summer, particularly in the away leg of the tie where Bangor were very unlucky not to score what would have been a crucial away goal.
Although eventually falling short against their opponents over two legs, there were positives and lessons for Bangor to take from the experience, as their manager noted:
‘The European games were obviously a great experience for everybody involved, players, staff, supporters, everybody involved with Bangor City FC, and I think you’re always going to learn a lot about yourselves throughout these experiences, as well as what is required to be successful at that level.
‘We came up against a very, very good side in Lyngby, who have since gone on to progress through to The Europa League Third Qualifying Round, so that just shows you the level of opposition we were up against, but we learnt a lot from both games.
‘We did very well out in Denmark, with the only hint of disappointment coming from the lack of an away goal – which I think would have changed everything – but we were still very pleased with how we did away from home and, although the first half in the home leg was disappointing, we felt there were a lot of positives to take from the second half and we felt like we matched Lyngby for large spells of the tie.
‘Those positives have then been taken forward into the rest of our pre-season programme against decent opposition, managing to win those games and spread the minutes out amongst the squad to make sure everybody is ready and fit come the first game of the season.’
’It is going to take a lot of hard work.’
A club the size of Bangor’s, with their pedigree and history, is always going to have a certain level of expectation, and after last season’s successes the optimism has certainly returned to The Bangor University Stadium.
Starting their WPL campaign against The New Saints presents an ideal opportunity for The Citizens to test themselves against what is undoubtedly a very strong team, but there will be 31 other games to play throughout the season and Nicholson detailed how he and his team will approach the season ahead.
‘The league is going to be extremely competitive, every game will be so difficult, so we’ve got to first of all make sure that we improve upon last year – there were 33 points between us and TNS last year, and we will be wanting to close that gap as much as possible, but in order to do that we need to pick up three points on a consistent basis. We understand that there will be a number of teams wanting to challenge, but a club the size of Bangor City has certain expectations, we’ll be doing our absolute best to match those and see where that takes us.
‘If you’re going to achieve anything then you have to believe that you can do it, and there is a lot of belief in the squad that we can have a very good season, but it will be about taking things game by game. We need a good start, like every team will, and then it’ll be about consistency and finding ways to win against very tough teams.
‘It is one thing to win and be up there, but you have to know how to do it, and our aim every week will just be to make sure that our players are as physically, mentally and tactically prepared as possible to go out there and pick up points every week. If we do that then we’re going to give ourselves a very good chance, but it is going to take a lot of hard work.’
Updated 10:08 - 15 Aug 2017 by Kevin Owen