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Interviews

Ardley answers your questions

Boss' best bits from Post webchat

26 March 2020

Neal Ardley took over the Nottingham Post's webchat on Wednesday lunchtime to take your questions. Here's the pick of what he had to say...

We have signed quite a few players this season but didn't disclose any contract lengths, who is signed for next season? Also is there any chance of signing Bagan on a permanent deal?

Without naming players, we have nine who are under contract next season.

We will be dealing with all contract situations at the end of the season as we want to keep the fantastic team spirit going and keep everybody pushing for the same goal.

As for Joel Bagan, unfortunately I think Cardiff will be investing all their time and energy into helping him fulfil his potential and will not be looking to move him on to any other club on a permanent basis.

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What has been your favourite moment of the season so far and why?

I would have to say the win at Barrow for a number of reasons, including the fact they gave us a real pasting at our place.

Tactically, I took a really brave decision along with Coxy to change the shape and tactics, so to see it work perfectly was great.

I know they had a player sent off, but that was down to pure frustration at the fact that they couldn’t open us up.

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In a season full of amazing goals, what would be your top three?

Enzio Boldewijn’s against Woking not just because of the finish, but the patterns of play are what we work on in training.

Sam Osborne’s goal against Maidenhead simply because of the speed and tempo in the way we moved from defence to attack.

And Michael Doyle’s goal against Dagenham in the FA Trophy. I was on the pitch for Wimbledon when David Beckham scored from the halfway line and Doyle’s is right up there.

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Who wears the pants in the relationship, you or Coxy?

I would say we are a very level team. I do the cooking and he does the washing up. But he hogs the remote control and always puts the golf on.

How is the lockdown impacting on the rehab of the injured players?

I would say the lockdown will give the players more time to rest their injuries and let their bodies heal.

They have been in constant contact with physios and have set work to do. It shouldn’t influence it too much.

How's your day-to-day life looking during these difficult times?

It’s lovely to spend time with the family as I don’t get to see them much during the season, but I wish it wasn’t in these circumstances.

My wife has been volunteering to help the NHS by buying food, collecting it and delivering it to all their staff through this tough time as they are literally risking their lives every day for us.

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Do you feel that the experience of a season in this league will benefit us?

Certainly. Not just for being in the league and understanding the clubs in it, but also because we have been together for a period of time as a group.

We’ve managed to deal with a lot of the issues we had in the summer and move the club forwards, which will enable us to prepare for challenges ahead in whatever league we’re in.

If and when the season resumes, do you think the squad will be able to keep their edge with such a long break or will they need a mini pre-season to get back into the swing of it?

I hope the attitude and desire within the group won’t need much stoking up. We will need a three-four-week build-up to get our competitive edge back but my staff and I are confident we can do that.

Have you ever known a better team spirit and togetherness within a group of players and staff?

The team spirit is fantastic. Their attitudes and desire are nothing short of perfect. The last time we had that in one of my teams was a promotion-winning side at AFC Wimbledon.

How do you think this season's squad would fare in League Two?

I believe that momentum and confidence play a huge part in any team. Given the mindset among our group, if that was taken into League Two I believe we would be very competitive.

If the season is ended now, how would you feel if we miss out on two potential trips to Wembley and promotion?

With what we have been through since the start of the season, I – along with all the fans, staff and players – will be devastated.

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Who did you support when you were a boy and who was your hero when you were young?

I used to support Liverpool when I was a young lad and my hero was Kenny Dalglish. As I grew up, Gary Lineker became my idol.

What do you do with your downtime? Do you find it easy to relax after matches or are you constantly focusing on the next?

I have got better at this through experience. In my first few years at Wimbledon, I never enjoyed the good times enough after a positive result and turned to the next game straight away.

Nowadays, I don’t burn myself out like that. I try to give my family time after each game - win, lose or draw. That is more difficult now because I don’t live at home.

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What has been your most challenging time in charge of Notts on the pitch?

The end of last season when I tried to make some changes to freshen the place up and give us a chance of staying up.

In the last six weeks of the season, I realised there was a lot wrong and it was proving tough to turn it around. I couldn’t let anybody see that on the outside.

The similarities between your old Wimbledon side and the way we set up and play are uncanny. Do you find if you have basic principles, players find it easier to adapt when it needs tweaking?

If the manager hasn’t got a way of doing things he believes in, he can’t relay that to his team and get them to buy into it.

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How much of an impact have Football Radar had on player recruitment this season?

It’s a total collaboration between both parties. Recruitment is, and always has been, the most crucial and toughest aspect of building a football club.

We work together better than I could ever have imagined and I am really enjoying our work.

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How crucial has Cal Roberts' signing been to Notts’ recent great run of form? And in your opinion who is the best player ever?

Signing good players gives the place a lift. It adds to competition and raises standards, and bringing in Cal Roberts has done all of that.

The best player I’ve ever seen in my lifetime is Diego Maradona. He 'single-handedly' won Argentina the World Cup at Mexico 1986.

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Who is the fastest player in the team?

It’s a tough one. I would say it would be very close between Enzio Boldewijn, Richard Brindley, Wes Thomas and a surprise addition over 40 yards would be Connell Rawlinson.

If you had a choice, would you give up the remaining matches in the FA Trophy so we can concentrate on the league and get promoted instead?

I am being greedy here but I want both. We have worked so hard to progress in both of them.

I think back to Doyle’s goal against Dagenham, the win over Yeovil with nine men, the victory at Chesterfield – we haven’t had it easy. I would love to take the Notts fans to Wembley in both.

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Which player is the vainest?

Definitely Sean Shields. He is the last one out on to the pitch for the warm-up, the last one out of the dressing room after a game and last up to lunch every day! It must take him a while to get that hair perfect!

Who is the most hardworking and dedicated player you've ever managed?

Michael Doyle is one that springs to mind. His determination to win anything and everything is incredible. You don’t play more than 800 games without doing the right things away from the training ground.

Barry Fuller and Paul Robinson at Wimbledon would both be right up there, too.

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What are your three favourite chants you hear at a home game?

Ardley Give Us a Wave, All Notts Are We and Get in There because we’ve just scored!

The Wheelbarrow Song, as well. It’s a proper anthem.

What films and TV shows do you like watching?

My favourite films are Shawshank Redemption, Seven and Usual Suspects.

Boxsets are El Chapo, Messiah and Billions.

If you ever got the chance, would you like to manage England?

When I was a young lad, it was my dream to play for England. I got to the Under 21s and earned 10 caps. Winning the Toulon tournament was a very proud moment and standing there belting out the national anthem is emotional.

To do it as a manager would be sensational.

Click here to read the full webchat on the Nottingham Post.


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