Kent Football United boss Ennio Gonnella: We look forward to a tough season ahead that hopefully gives the reward of promotion
KENT FOOTBALL United manager Ennio Gonnella says he wants to win promotion from the Southern Counties East Football League First Division next season.
The Dartford based outfit kicked off their preparations for the 2017-18 season when they played Ashford United under 21s at St Paul’s Academy in Abbey Wood yesterday and goals from Dominic Weston and newly-appointed player-coach Marlon Patterson sealed a 2-2 draw.
“They are a very good and young footballing side, so it was good for the fitness we need at this point and also to see a few faces that I needed to see in a game,” said Gonnella.
“Most of our main squad have not been invited back so early due to holiday’s etc, but most of all to give them the rest they need.”
Gonnella explained why his club started playing football again on 17 June.
“We came back early as last season we started in the last weekend of June and I had 50 players at my first session,” he recalled.
“Three weeks in to last season roughly towards to the end of July, I still had over 30, so this year we decided to invite the trialists in early and the boys from last year needing extra fitness, to trim the squad so that we start the first week in July with the squad we want for the season.
“We have lost a couple from last season in Danny Willis and Daryl Dylan. It’s not for me to say where they have gone but I would like to take the chance to say thank you for last year. They are top players but most of all great blokes and I wish them all the best.
“Players coming in? I’d rather not say at this stage, but we are speaking to a few that no doubt will be announced soon.”
Gonnella revealed that he has made changes to his management team with Scott Ellis coming in as his assistant manager, while former Bromley and Beckenham Town left-back Marlon Patterson, 33, who finished last season as a player at the club, offering his experience too.
Gonnella said: “Scott and I worked together managing the youth section at Fisher Athletic years ago when they were in the Conference South under Gavin Rose.
“Scott is an all-round top person, loves the same style of football and very professional all round. I’m looking forward and exited to be working with him again this season.
“A new addition to the management team but not the club is that Marlon Patterson joins the coaching staff, as well as playing this season.
“Marlon always seemed to be a player that players look up to and respect, not only for his previous achievement in being a professional footballer but more to how he conducts himself off the pitch, so again I look forward to working with him on the other side of the fence and of course he joins player-coach Dean Carpenter, which again he’s a top guy and very professional.”
When asked about the great strides that the club are making with their ground at Lowfield Street, the manager said: “There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes, exciting plans which when they come through will no doubt be a credit to the club for their ground achievements.
“The pitch has been re-done this year by Ian Jordan. With regards to the floodlights and stands, I have been told this has now been approved and they await one more thing before getting the work started but that’s more down to the chairman to announce when the time right.
“I have nothing but faith in Roy and Sam (MacNeil), so therefore I’m concentrating more on the football side.”
Kent Football United finished in a personal best finish in the top four in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division last season, accumulating a club record 71 points from their 36 games.
Glebe (92 points) and Rusthall (80) were both promoted to the Premier Division and Sutton Athletic finished in third on 74.
Fisher, who have asked their fans to raise a £20,000 playing budget for boss Dean Harrison, were relegated along with Luke Coleman’s Erith & Belvedere, whom finished bottom of the table on 26 points from their 38 league games.
“I have committed to another year to try and gain promotion, which we competed very well last season in our first year of a changed Kent Football United, but it’s going to be very hard, with the teams coming down adding to the very good sides we have in this League already,” said Gonnella.
“I would say it’s harder this year than last season. Fisher and Erith & Belvedere, I have no doubt are looking to go straight back up and knowing Luke Coleman, he’s a winner, wants to win at everything. I wish him well. It will be good to see him again this year, all be it in different circumstances.