Foyle can breed Bulls success
The Bulls have a new manager and a new squad but the club’s recent non-league experience should soften the blow of a Blue Square Bet Premier return…
Relegation from the Football League tends to do for stability what profound drunkenness does for a game of Jenga. Players, albeit often underperforming players, depart en masse leaving a shell of youngsters and a significant rebuilding project.
Hereford spent most of 2011/12 sashaying along with the sort of surefootedness usually demonstrated only by a cross-dressing prop forward at kicking out time on a Saturday night. After rookie boss Jamie Pitman struggled to take the Bulls forward, Gary Peters was brought in to assist. But as the threat of relegation remained Pitman was eventually dispensed with in favour of Richard O’Kelly. None of those changes had the desired effect and after six years away the Bulls are back.
In Martin Foyle they have an experienced boss with a sound knowledge of this level but the former York manager was handed a skeleton squad on taking over. At the time of writing he is still some way from the end of his laborious recruitment process, with Forest Green duo James Bittner and Luke Graham among the early arrivals. However, the club were not a big fish in the Football League and the infrastructure will not need to be turned on its head.
Foyle’s primary concern since taking charge has been simply to gather together enough players to form a team. Pre-season began in Herefordshire with a clump of trialists training alongside the few remaining first-teamers as the manager attempts to combine squad conditioning with the arduous process of player recruitment.
The 49-year-old has plenty of managerial experience and his non-league know-how acquired during two years with York will stand him in good stead for the campaign to come. But the job of picking up the pieces after relegation is a different task entirely. Foyle is set to receive fulsome backing for the time being, as he assembles a squad at Edgar Street and the club’s generally-rational board ought to afford him enough time to work on his nascent plans.
It could be worse. While relegation was painful, particularly after a flirtation with League One under Graham Turner, this is not new ground for the Bulls. They will reacquaint themselves with seven clubs of the 21 they faced in their latest campaign in non-league’s top tier, although much has changed at this level since their promotion in 2006.
Although supporters remain unsure of exactly who will be representing them this term, in Foyle they have a trustworthy boss with experience on his side. So long as United fans can content themselves with a season of consolidation, the division shouldn’t hold too many fears or indeed unknowns.
For now there are only short-term goals at Edgar Street, the most crucial of which remains the simple need to assemble a squad. But if Foyle and the club can permit themselves to glance a little further ahead the situation may not be so gloomy. In every moment of disappointment there is an opportunity to change. The Bulls can use this setback to their advantage: clear the decks for a new era.
United are not a club prone to dramatic overspends and if they give Foyle the time and space to develop a side, we’re convinced he can prove his worth. This is a blank canvas for the manager: a chance to right the wrongs of recent seasons, to ensure the club no longer need to rely on loan acquisitions, rather that they can develop players in house.
But development will take a back seat for the time being as the Bulls readjust to the division both on and off the pitch. If they can sit tight during the coming months, they may just reap the rewards further down the line.
It may not be easy to begin with for the Bulls but we expect Foyle to cobble together a squad capable of securing a mid-table finish without too many hiccups along the way.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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