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Neal reveals plans to fans

5 July 2013

Meet the Manager event received a great response

Neal Ardley told supporters last night that last season had been an “eye opener” for him as a young manager, but he is confident of moving the Dons forward during 2013/14.

Dons fans packed into the middle bar at the Cherry Red Records Stadium for the club’s annual Meet the Manager event and it was a Q & A that lasted for the best part of two hours.

for subscribers to our premium site with Neal Ardley answering questions on a variety of subjects. These included potential transfer targets, new training methods, Neal’s hopes for next season and taking advice from the likes of Terry Burton, Roberto Martinez and Dave “Harry” Bassett.Dons PlayerPart of this event can now be viewed on

Neal was asked by one supporter about his ambitions for 2013/14 and how much last season was a test of his skills as a young manager in League 2.

Neal replied: “Last season was an eye opener for me even though I had been in the game for a long time. Without the help of Simon Bassey it would have been a massive shock to the system. Simon’s knowledge of players was very helpful. Next season we don’t want to end up depending on results on the last day.

“I think we have worked incredibly hard in training so far and if we have done our recruitment right then it should not take our players as long as anticipated to gel. We are taking out the grey areas and everyone knows what they are doing. The recruitment was specifically targeted so that we can play the style of play that we want. Hopefully, they do gel quickly and we have a decent level of performance from day one. We have to make the squad believe that they can get into the play-offs and if we end up in mid-table it will not be too bad.”

, who has followed the Dons since 1981, has been to almost every Meet the Manager event held at AFC Wimbledon, and he was impressed with the way that Neal conducted himself.Michael BakerSupporter

“Neal talked very well about how he wants to move the team forward,” Michael said. “It was very interesting and provided a good insight. We have shown as a club what can be achieved with fan power and events like this give the supporters more identity with the team. It makes you proud to support the club.”

, who has supported Wimbledon since 1961, said: “I enjoyed it very much –it was very informative. It is a wonderful thing to have an event like this so that fans can listen to what the management have to say. It really makes you feel part of the club.”Christopher Burgess

.Matt Ansell was introduced to supporters at the event, along with new Bar Manager Stewart CastledineNeal Ardley’s former Wimbledon team-mate

As well as answering messages sent to the club’s official Twitter page, one of the last questions asked Neal about his key influences, particularly during the tough times of his early reign as Wimbledon manager.

“The person I probably speak to most is Terry Burton because I was with him when I was a youth team player and I have been at several clubs with him,” Neal responded. “I am very close to him and I can always pick up the phone and he will be there for me. I spoke at the end of last season with Roberto Martinez, who was on a coaching course with me in the past, and he is a wonderful guy. In my opinion I have probably got the utmost respect for him out of all the managers because he is top drawer. I spoke to him at the LMA dinner and he was very complementary. Roberto seemed to know everything and even though he had his own problems at Wigan he knew all about the last day of the season and how it ended up for us.

“Dave Bassett texted and messaged me during the last season and told me to keep my head up last season; he said that the players were giving everything for me and that I had to be ready to get it right in January. That was good advice. These people are always there if I need them and it has been a big help.”

Dons Players subscribers can watch almost 17 minutes of video footage from last night’s Meet the Manager event on our premium site.

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