Every year we just want to do better, says Phoenix Sports manager Paul Bryon
PHOENIX SPORTS manager Paul Bryon says he wants his side to have something to play for going into the final game of this season.
Bryon guided the Barnehurst based club to a ninth-placed finish in the Isthmian League South East Division last season.
They lost 2-0 at home to Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Lordswood on Monday night and host Isthmian Premier Division side Cray Wanderers in another pre-season friendly on Thursday night.
Phoenix Sports then play tenants Greenwich Borough on Tuesday 6 August and Isthmian South Central side Barking on Friday 9 August.
Phoenix Sports kick-off their new league campaign with a home clash against last season’s play-off finalists Ashford United on Saturday 17 August (15:00).
Bryon then takes his side to Herne Bay (20 August) before they host Staines Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on 24 August.
Phoenix Sports welcome their next door neighbours VCD Athletic two days later and Guernsey on 31 August.
“The Cray and the Barking one are big tests for us. Cray is going to be a big test, I know Tony Russell’s going to bring a good side down here,” said Bryon.
“I’m going to have a look at the youngsters and have a look at them for Cray.
“We’ve got a minutes programme because some have played more minutes than others and the big game for us is against Barking because that’s our level and it will show me where we’re at and then we’ve got two or three training sessions before we kick off against Ashford.”
Tommy Warrilow’s men reached the Isthmian League South East Division play-off final for the first time but they lost 2-1 to Horsham after extra time on Friday 3 May 2019.
“We’ve not got a great draw in the cups. We’ve got Staines in The FA Cup and Burgess Hill in the other cup,” added Bryon.
“We’ve got Ashford to start but the bottom line is, people say momentum is really important, which I agree with but you’ve got to play everyone.
“We’ve got Ashford at home, Herne Bay away, Staines, VCD and then Guernsey. We could want for better things but at the end of the day we just have to get as many points as we can.
“We went away to Ashford last year, who were going for promotion and we beat them 2-0!
“I’ve played against Tommy for a few years and I know what he’s going to do and he’ll know what we’ll be doing but we’ll have to start fast against them, there’s no two ways about it. They’ll be a good side and we’ll do our best.”
When asked about Phoenix Sports’ aspirations for the season ahead, Bryon replied: “Every year we just want to do better. Every year we want the same aspirations, to go into the last game of the season to mean something. People say they want to be in the play-offs. Our aspirations is simply the last game of the season to mean something – unless we’ve won the league.
“I don’t think any optimistic will think that will happen but you never know. If we go into the last game of the season and we’ve got something hanging on it, then we’ve been successful.”
When asked about what type of league he is expecting this season, Bryon replied: “I think it’s going to be tough this year. Every year you see players coming in and out and people strength. Things like Zak Ansah, who is one of the top goalscorers has gone to Herne Bay, who struggled last year.
“It’s going to be a tough, tough league but you say that every year but you nick points here and nick points there.
“One of the things I was pleased about last year, we took points off everybody in the play-offs.
“We drew with Horsham, we beat Ashford, we drew with Cray away, we drew with Haywards Heath and we should have won that game really. Hythe, we were 3-0 up at half-time so we know on our day we can compete.
“I’m not one to change the squad massively because we’ve not got a budget to do that.
“We’ve signed three new players this year. Juma Mahmoud, who has come in to centre-midfield; Connor McGrady has come in to cover at centre-back and Lauris Chin has come and played as an attacking player and the rest of the squad is pretty much what it is.”
When asked about his budget for the season ahead, Phoenix Sports are a small club when it comes to financial power.
“I know there’s teams in the league below us with a lot more. I think we will be the lowest in the league by a far way but that’s the way things are,” said Bryon.
“It’s never been any different. We have to raise money throughout the season to pay the players. We can’t afford the players on the budget I’ve got, that I’ve been given from the club so we have to do other things to get money for it.
“The whole management team is voluntary. I get nothing, I don’t take nothing, so we are what we are.
“A Ninth-placed finish wasn’t a bad result even though we want to do better. If I get injuries I can’t just go out and pay £300 a week for a forward. I know there’s keepers out there on £300 and centre-halves on £250. My players are nowhere near that but it is what it is and that’s the way it goes.”
Visit Phoenix Sports’ website: www.phoenixsportsclub.co.uk