I'll just be looking to progress the club further forward, says Millers' boss Paul Gross
Gross, 32, has taken over from Steve Chapman, who was in charge for the past three seasons and finished last season in a disappointing seventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table.
The Millers begin their pre-season campaign with a game against Kent Invicta League side Glebe on Saturday.
When asked about the club’s pre-season preparations, Gross said: “It’s gone well. Enjoyed it. Went back a little bit early being it was new to me and most of my team so went back a little bit early, maybe looking back at it a little bit too early now, but I think all the boys have enjoyed it and have started to get to know each other so hopefully that will be valuable when we start to play games.”
Gross revealed that he is sending a team of trialists to Orpington to play Rocky McMillan’s side.
He said: “That’s going to be purely – baring about four players – players that I’ve never seen play before so I can have a look and see where they’re at and whether they can come in and improve the squad or not as the situation might be.
“We’ve got two very promising under 18 teams and we’ll be looking at some of those boys and some of them will be on the fringes this season of the first team squad, hopefully.”
Gross admits to being a changed man when it comes to taking part in pre-season.
When asked whether he likes this part of the season, Gross admitted: “No! As a player, I’m sure every manager that I ever played for will tell you, I was never there!
“As a manager I’m tearing my hair out. Everyone I talk to is happy to tell me to calm down because players certainly know how to play the game pre-season but it’s another learning curve for me.
“I have to get my head around this side of things and appreciate that people are doing to me what I done to managers for the last 10-12 years!”
When asked what kind of manager he will be, the rookie replied: “I’ll have to tone it down to when I used to play, that will be natural, but I’ll do everything as I was as a player. I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ll be honest. All I ask back is honesty and 100%.
“I’ll see how it goes. If I have to change styles, if it’s not working, I’ll try but that’s how I’ll go certainly to start with.”
There will be 38 league games in the Southern Counties East Football League this coming season due to the fact that Erith & Belvedere returned after finishing bottom in the Ryman League Division One North last season and that Crowborough Athletic, Croydon and Lingfield have switched leagues.
“It’s going to be very tough,” warned Gross.
“Some people that have been out of the game for a year or so coming back into the game, who have been successful, my old manager Micky Collins (at Sevenoaks Town).
“Ashford will obviously be licking their wounds that they just missed out last year so they’ll come back stronger and we’ve got a few unknown quantities.
“We went to play Croydon last year and played in the FA Cup and wasn’t the greatest place to go and play a game so not many teams will enjoy going down there.
“Then you’ve got other managers coming in like Darren (Anslow) at Deal and people like that and it will make the league stronger and there’s a lot of familiar players back and we’re all going for the same sort of players so it’s going to be a bit of a merry-go-round, I would imagine.”
When asked his own aspirations at the club, the Millers’ manager said: “I can’t answer that! I know where I want them to be, which is as high up the table as I can be. I just have to take it easy and see how I go. It’s a learning curve for me first season.
“I’ll just be looking to progress the club further forward from what Chappo done over the last three years.
“We had a nice little couple of cup runs last year in the FA Cup and FA Vase, something like that, somewhere along those lines would go down nicely. Just progression really. That’s what I want to do. I just want to progress the club.”
Visit Cray Valley’s website: www.cray-valley.co.uk
Glebe v Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Saturday 5th July 2014
Kick Off 12:00pm
at Priory School, Tintagel Road, Orpington, Kent BR5 4LG