Barnet manager Mark Stimson kindly agreed to answer some questions from A Different League correspondent Jack Nolan. In the first of two articles detailing his interview, Stimson talks about Barnet’s beginning of the season, and his philosophy on footballing style.
Speaking from the clubs impressive ‘The Hive’ training ground complex, Stimson explains the clubs facilities were one of the reasons he wanted the job at Barnet.
Barnet are bottom of the table this season with just three wins, and Stimson believes that injuries have played a major part in the clubs early season struggle. “Unfortunately we have put a squad together which we think is capable of competing at this level, but we have been hit by major injuries and we haven’t recovered from that.
“Some senior players, Steve Kabba has missed a lot of football as has a very good central defender in Darren Dennehy who worked with me last year, so that’s two important areas of the pitch where we are carrying injuries. As we speak today Steve Kabba has come back so hopefully he can give us a run of games, and Darren Dennehy is slowly but surely getting back for maybe late January and that will be like a major signing for us.”
Stimson inherited a team without last years top players such as Albert Adomah and John O‘Flynn and with limited resources available rebuilding the squad was never going to be easy, and injuries haven’t helped the process of new players gelling. “The squad just needs to keep fit. It was only two weeks ago we could only put four on the bench. We had more players in treatment than we did actually fit, that’s the main thing, if we can get our players fit they’ll gel and hopefully we’ll stop picking up injuries.
“It’s been good the last two games as we haven’t picked up any injuries. As I said Steve Kabba is coming back, Grant Basey a central defender who we have taken on a short term deal, got struck by the curse after a few games playing but he’s back playing well now. We’ve got to try and keep these boys fit and add those to the ones we’ve got we’ll be okay. When you don’t have big squads it can be really harmful when you got injuries.”
Of all Stimson’s summer signings, Izale McLeod stood out as a major coup for the club, however a serious injury has meant Stimson is yet to see his big summer signing play. “I haven’t actually seen Izale yet, he’s been injured since he’s been here. Can only really say that it will be a good sign when we actually see him play.
“Don’t know if I’m honest (when McLeod will be fit to play). When he comes back, and starts playing if he can do half as well as he did before when he was at this level he will be a major signing for this football club. Him and Steve Kabba could be a real force in this league.”
Barnet’s loss last Tuesday had added significance for both Stimson and the club, with it being Stimson’s former side and the club’s biggest rivals, and the manager lamented the clubs wastefulness upfront and sloppy defending. “We didn’t take our opportunities. Two greats chances early on and we didn’t take them and before you know it we are two nil down. Again both ends of the pitch didn’t perform. Didn’t put the ball in the net and didn’t stop it from going into our net.
“But a low point for me as you say because of the team who were we playing and I know it’s a big local game. The one game in the season you don’t want to lose is the one to your local rivals, so we’re hurt by that but we’ll get over it and we have to look forward and set our targets now of improving on the last few games we have played because it hasn’t been good enough.”
Throughout his management career Stimson had been known for his sides playing football on the floor, but with a club struggling in a league notorious for it’s long ball and physical approach, would Stimson consider changing his football philosophy? “No, never. I’ll never change it. Whatever league I’m in, because for me that is the only way. At certain stages of the season depending on the pitch and conditions, like we did at Gillingham last year for some parts because the pitch wasn’t in the best condition, we couldn’t play up from the back. But we are very fortunate at Underhill that the pitch is absolutely immaculate so there are no excuses not too play.”
In Part Two Stimson talks about his time at Gillingham.