Neal Ardley admitted at today’s press conference that it was a dream come true to be AFC Wimbledon’s new manager.
However, the 40-year-old, who left his job as Academy Manager at Cardiff City to be installed as our new boss, said there was much more than romantic reasons for accepting the post. In a 25-minute press conference at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, Neal (pictured centre in above picture) spelt out his footballing philosophy, along with his short-term and long-term aims at the football club.
“I have always dreamed of being a manager and I always hoped that one day I would get the chance to be a manager. From that point of view, I will be living the dream on Saturday and it is great that I am doing that at a club close to my heart. I was born about 20 minutes away from here and I spent most of my career at Wimbledon so it is great for me. But I want this to be more than just a romantic thing, I want to be successful and to take this club forward.
“The only thing that is going to matter is results and we have to work hard as a team to get them. Hopefully, that will get people on board and there will be a good feel about the place. We can then have longer-term ambitions on the back of staying in the league as that is the worst-case scenario.”
Neal also spoke about his burning desire to help the Dons progress as a football club.
“I would like to think that I have some modern ideas that I have developed during my coaching career at Cardiff,” he added. “I would hope some of the stuff I said in my interview made sense, but you need an idea of how to get results too. As far as preparing for Saturday’s game goes, there is only so much that you can do in a couple of days. Simon Bassey has done a fantastic job in the last three or four weeks and we will work with him and maybe just tinker with a few things.
“In the longer-term we have to be looking to get into a higher league. We want to be looking to strengthen in certain areas at the club so that we get the recruitment right with the right players. We do not want it to be a case of us having a good team one season and then the next season we haven’t. One good example for me is Swansea and the way that they have developed as a club for the last six years.”
Neil Cox, who worked with Neal Ardley as a player at both Watford and Cardiff, had no hesitation in accepting the job as assistant manager with the Dons.
“When Neal rang me up to ask if I was interested I said ‘yes’ straight away,” he added. “Neal obviously has a few links with this club, but we want to do a good job. All three of us (the coaching team) have sat down and had a chat about what we want to do and we are looking forward to it. We went to the game the other day and spotted a few things, but there have been a lot of injuries, in particular with the two centre-backs being out. We need to defend from the front, but everyone needs to defend as a team and that is where we will start on Saturday.”
Simon Bassey, who remains with us as first-team coach, said: “It is a great honour to still be involved. I have been here a long time and seen a lot of changes, but I can only see this being positive for the club with these two guys coming in and adding a real surge of energy to the place. We hope to climb the table and I am looking forward to working with them immensely.”