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Neil on close season plans

1 May 2013

In-depth interview with assistant manager

said that the club’s first-team management are wasting no time in planning for next season after AFC Wimbledon’s dramatic final-day survival.Neil Cox 

  in which he spoke about his time at the club so far, his best and worst moments of 2012/13 and the plans already being put in place to create a stronger squad next season. And there’s no doubt which match Neil will be most looking forward to when the fixtures are announced on 19 June because his hometown club Scunthorpe United will be in League 2 next season. Dons PlayerWimbledon’s assistant manager provided an in-depth interview for

completing his running drills in the background during our interview with the 19-year-old striving to regain full fitness in time for pre-season.Jim FenlonSubscribers to our premium site should also watch out for

Here’s the full Q & A with Neil Cox, which appeared on Dons Player earlier today:

Joining us on Dons Player now is Neil Cox. First of all, I must offer congratulations to the coaching team after a brilliant day at the club on Saturday. Starting with a look back at the season, what was your best match and why?

I would have to say the last game against Fleetwood because we were under a lot of pressure and we just wanted to get the game over and done with really. We had to wait a week for it after a good second-half performance against Gillingham, but we were up for the game. We had a game plan and we stuck to it.

What was the key to survival?

The hard work put in by our players. They took on board what the management team had to say to them. We had a meeting in January when we told the players what they needed to do and that was to get 10 wins and a few draws. We told them that they had to stay focused on the challenge because we would have ups and downs along the way. We knew what we had to do and we ended up getting those 10 wins.

We have started off with the high points, but what were the low points when you thought perhaps that the club was not going to survive?

When we went to Chesterfield we were disappointed with how that went and that came after a hard game at Port Vale. After the Chesterfield match we let the boys have words with each other in the dressing room and the staff were standing outside talking about how we should stay positive. Then we had a chat with all of us involved and it was very upbeat. The conclusion was that we should have a right good go at it and that is what we did.

Since you came in during October to join Neal and Simon, what has been the biggest challenge the management faced?

also came in and we got good leadership into the team, which is what we needed.Alan Bennett, thanks to help from supporters. Harry Pell in and Gary AlexanderI think the biggest challenge was getting through to January when the club really helped us out. We knew that we were lacking experience in the side and needed to get leaders into the team. The club backed us 100 per cent and we managed to get

What are the aims for next season?

We are going to focus on the good points and bad points of this season. We are going to get a few more players in and it will be a shame that one or two players have to leave, but that is what happens at a football club. We will then focus on pre-season, get the players fit, and see what happens.

How much do you see it as a long-term project at AFC Wimbledon?

I think this is a long-term project. We are not only working hard on the playing staff, but also on what goes on behind the scenes. We are looking to get everything right in terms of the training, facilities, food for players and making sure the academy is alright. This is not a short-term plan and we are in it for the long haul.

AFC Wimbledon was completely new to you when you joined the club in October. How much has the club lived up to expectations?

I think the club has been fantastic. Not only have the board looked after us and been really good, but the staff have also played their parts. The supporters have really turned out for us, especially if you look at away games such as Dagenham & Redbridge. They really stuck by us. They knew that we were planning and doing a lot of work behind the scenes. I think it proved on Saturday after the final whistle just how relieved the supporters were, but there was also relief for the staff too.

January provided the only transfer window so far for the management team to strengthen the squad. Just how important is it to get the recruitment right again?

It is massive. People say that we strengthened in January, but it was not really until February because we effectively brought two players in on transfer deadline day. Simon and I started preparations for next season about three months ago and there are one or two players that we are looking to bring in. We are assessing what is available now. We have done a lot of work and we have to find out now if they are available to come to this club and if we can afford these players.

Has the job so far been harder than you anticipated?

I think what has been more difficult has been the work that we had to do behind the scenes in terms of getting everything organised. That will continue because if you want to build a successful football club, then it is not just about the 11 on the pitch. It is about behind the scenes too. Everyone is coming together and that is good or us.

How much progress has been made overall?

Since the turn of the year we managed to secure 34 points and that showed the progress made by the team. In terms of other aspects we are going to sign academy players and we have a good Under-16s team – we are fully aware of that. Facilities at the training ground are also getting better so it has been upwards all the way at the club so far.

Finally, though Scunthorpe United being relegated is not something you will welcome, how much will it mean to you to come up against your hometown club next season?

Scunthorpe United are my team and I have never got to go back there as a player since I left the club at the age of 18. It will be great to go back there next season. My family live right next to the ground and they will be happy when I go back. I have spoken to them already about it and I am sure they will get me a couple of tickets!

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