New Aylesbury FC boss Bateman: ‘It’s time to get people smiling again’

Steve Bateman
Steve Bateman

Steve Bateman has spoken for the first time since his whirlwind appointment at the weekend and says he want to ‘put a smile back on people’s faces’.

But the vastly experienced non league manager says he has not ended his brief hiatus from the game early to merely ‘tread water’ and is warning players they must step up to the plate or be replaced.

Bateman was appointed late Friday night and took charge of the team less than 24 hours later at Beaconsfield, where he started his management career.

It looked like the former Everton youth player’s presence was going to have the desired effect as his first signing Danny Burnell gave FC the lead after just six minutes.

But the defensive lapses and profligacy that have plagued Aylesbury’s season so far reared their ugly heads again and the visitors ended up losing 3-1.

It was FC’s seventh defeat in a row but the former Chesham and Hemel player hopes his appointment can help turn things around quickly, even if he does admit to being somewhat surprised by his return to football so soon after leaving Slough in the summer.

“It wasn’t something I wasn’t expecting to happen I guess,” Bateman said.

“I stepped down from Slough and promised myself I was going to have a good period of time out of it.

“I’ve had 14 or 15 seasons of management straight off the back of playing and it was the first chance I’ve had to pause and take a deep breath.

“I’ve known Danny Martone as an opposition manager and I’ve come and watched a few games at Aylesbury to check out opposition and players etc and he’s always been very hospitable and welcoming and invited me in the boardroom.

“I’m based in Amersham so I’m not a million miles away.

“It has kind of all happened very quickly. Things have not gone the way the club were looking for them to go. It’s been an indifferent period for Aylesbury and I find myself back involved again.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’ll be looking to freshen things up.

“I had literally 15 minutes with the players before naming a team on Saturday. I’ve brought in Danny Burnell and could easily bring three or four others over and may well bring in one or two this week.

“I will give the opportunity to the players, though. I like to put my mark on it but there will be a chance for players to prove they want to play for the club and want to play for their hometown club.

“But I won’t hang around for too long because one thing about me is I know a lot of people and have a lot of contacts and people will be looking for me to use those contacts.

“That’s not a threat to the players it is just the way football works. Those that step up to the plate will stay and I will replace those that don’t.”

Despite FC’s struggles this season, which have gone from bad to worse since Craig Faulconbridge stepped down last month, Bateman insists there is still plenty to play for.

“I’ve not written this season off by any means,” he said.

“I know this division and I know that three wins and all of a sudden you are thinking about a play-offs scenario and a couple of defeats you are looking over your shoulder.

“I’ve always operated at the top end and that’s where I want us to be ultimately.

“I’m looking forward to it. I have access to a group of players, a fair number of whom I could easily get in.

“I will give youngsters the opportunity because that is the club’s ethos but they need more around them.

“At the moment something is not quite right, confidence in some is low and I’ve got an understanding of this group of players, most of whom I’ve seen as opposition or worked with in some capacity so I’m not coming in blind and I learn quickly.

“I want to put a smile on everyone’s faces because this is very much a community based club.”

One issue that will need to be addressed is that of former boss Faulconbridge, who has still been playing for the team.

“I only know Craig Faulconbridge from the opposition dugout,” Bateman admitted.

“We’ll have a look at that (situation) and I’ll do what I think is right for the club. The playing scenario will be looked at and I’ll do what I think is right.

“Danny wants somebody to concentrate fully on the football and take that headache away from him and that’s what I’m all about.

“The club needs youngsters stepping forward but they have got to be good enough and dedicated enough. The door right now is open for them to make sure they are part of it.

“There will be one or two fresh faces because we’re low on numbers where certain people have drifted away from the club over the last few weeks. But I’ve had a very busy weekend conversationally with people surprised I’d come back in (to football) already.

“But it is in my blood and its what I’ve done and enjoyed. It’s quite bizarre that my first game was going back to Beaconsfield which is where I stood for so long and started out.”

Looking ahead Bateman said he will be bringing in someone to work alongside him as Keith Walker has stepped down due to work commitments but is keen for coach Fraser McLachlan to remain involved.

And he hopes a positive week of training can lead to an upturn in fortunes starting at home against Uxbridge on Saturday before a trip to Potters Bar Town on Monday night.

“I’m pleased we have the week to prepare and lets see what we can do and I may add one or two.

“I hope for a bright week this week and to push on.

“But I’m not here to tread water, I’m here to push things forwards, hopefully starting Saturday.”

Bateman is used to managing people, he runs a large software support team which looks after many of the NHS systems. And he says management, like football, is in his blood.

“I work full-time at a software support organisation in healthcare which looks after a lot of the NHS systems and involves managing people, which is in my blood. Even when I played I was the leader and captain so its something that comes naturally to me.”

On his backroom staff going forwards Bateman revealed he will be bringing in someone he knows.

“Fraser McLachlan (coach) will continue but Keith Walker is stepping down due to work commitments, although he will still be around in the background and if Fraser wants to remain that’s great because I have always thought as a manager you should freshen things up regarding the people you are working with. I will be looking to bring in someone alongside me as well, though, and I may already have that person who was with me at Beaconsfield on Saturday.

“He brings experience, good contacts and at 37/38 is ready for a management scenario.

“But lets get the players with a smile back on their faces. They’re not that far away, it’s not like they’re getting hammered every week, we’re not bottom of the league.

“I’ve jumped back in when I wasn’t expecting to and we will be pushing on to improve where we are.

“I wouldn’t migrate the whole Slough team here, that wouldn’t be right for Aylesbury, but I want the players to show me they want to play for the club and want to stay.

“I’ve always found Aylesbury to be a very competitive side, they just look down on confidence and belief. From what I can see we’re leaking too many goals and giving away silly free-kicks.”