First Division

‘Promotion is the minimum for Croydon’ says Liam Giles

There has been no rest through Lockdown for Croydon FC Manager Liam Giles.

Not only has he worked on his own fitness, but he has worked on a plan that he hopes will see Croydon return to the SCEFL Premier Division.

Speaking to Andrew Sinclair at ‘InsideCroydon’ Giles spoke about his aims for the 2020/21 Campaign while also reflecting on the previous one, which finished early.

Giles looks back in frustration at what might have been. “I think we put massive expectations on ourselves following the relegation. We built the squad from scratch. We were very happy with it, but I think that our downfall was the time it took for them to gel.

“The one positive was that we were in the semi-finals of the Hospitals Cup. The senior side haven’t had any silverware in over 10 years, so I was really looking forward to that semi-final we had with Stansfeld and having that opportunity to bring silverware to the club and loyal supporters that are there every week, giving them something to smile about because there hasn’t been much to smile about at Croydon for a long time.

“In terms of league position, I’d have expected us to be a lot closer to the top four in terms of points. I’m very critical and harsh on myself – I looked at it and was expecting us to win the league.

“We came up against a lot of things that we weren’t expecting, in terms of playing styles and being new to that league, but we’re in a much better place. We went through three squads due to trying to find the right balance, which we had done at the end.

The key things Giles says he learned were understanding the challenges posed by the other teams in the division and having a happy team environment. “At the start of last year, we had a lot of big egos, players who’d played at a higher level and weren’t prepared to do the hard stuff. We had too many luxury players.

“When it was going well, we were putting the ball in the back of the net but we were too often leaving ourselves wide open at the back.

“In terms of style of play, and I’m not trying to undermine the division, there weren’t many footballing sides, take away Rusthall. Take Kennington, they’re all 6ft 5in tall, it’s like you’re playing against rugby players! No disrespect to them, they were top of the table, good for them, but we didn’t adapt to the Route 1 style very well. Set-pieces were a massive downfall for us, so we’ve looked at improving that.

“I’m a big believer in playing what I think is the right way, getting the ball down, playing out from the back and playing attacking football. We do need to appreciate that we’re playing sides that are hardworking, often a group of mates, who are very physical. I think that’s something big we learned about the division.

Giles seems to have learned a lot and certainly appears to be excited about the season ahead – and has big expectations;

“Promotion is obviously the minimum but I want to win that league. We had a trial run at it last year, but we’re more aware of it now and if I didn’t think we could do it, there’s no point me being in the job.”

It all gets under way on September 5th with potential FA Cup ties coming 4 days earlier.

For the full interview please visit ‘InsideCroydon’ here