Matt Nash took charge of his first game as International Surrey Football men’s coach last Saturday – and though the 3-2 defeat to Chagos Islands wasn’t the result we all wanted, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance.
We caught up with the boss a few days after the Chagos game to get his thoughts on the result.
What were you looking for in training?
Most players were still playing for their Sunday teams so it was all about just trying to find some new talent for what is effectively a new team. The squad for the first game only included four previous players and 12 debutants, which is something we were proud of in the performance as hardly anyone had ever played together before. Training helped us find players like Denis Negulescu, who is only 17, so it was a worthwhile exercise.
What system or style are you looking to play? How much do you have to adapt to the players you have available?
We started with a 4-3-3 against Chagos after a few withdrawals on the day but changed it after going in 3-1 down at half-time and then tweaked the formation to a 4-4-2 to accommodate the players we had at our disposal. We want to play good football but also be able to mix it when required. We have some talented wide players and it’s about trying to work out the best way for us to play to give us the best chance of winning matches.
What did you tell the players before kick-off against the Chagos Islands?
The importance of representing Surrey was drilled home to them and also the team ethic we are looking to build here – no egos, no individuals, no problems, just a united squad. We drilled home to them how vital it is to try to play good football when possible. But also how, when they come to us, it should be fun and we should be able to enjoy the time we spend together and the matches.
What were you expecting to see?
We knew the early stages would be disjointed because of the nature of it being our first match together and the fact we were relying on so many players getting to know each other in a short space of time. Only four had played for Surrey before and there were 12 debutants. With Sunday leagues and cups ongoing, it could well be that there are more debuts to come over the next two weeks.
We conceded the first goal but managed to equalise…
It was really good to see the character to battle back into the game twice. You could see by the reactions to both the goals that the players really believed, despite the challenges, we could go on and win the game, so to lose it in the end was disappointing.
What did you make of the performance?
The first half was a learning process. We learned some good things, some not so good. We found some new partnerships and saw players in different positions. The second half was much, much better, much more how we see a Surrey team playing. What we need to do is create more chances and get more efforts on target and test the goalkeeper, based on that. Chagos were very dogged and did not give us an inch so we have to learn how to play against teams like that.
Any things you’re looking to work on?
All areas in some capacity, although we are limited on the time we have together. We want to find several ways to play so that we have a plan A, B and C if necessary. Also on how best to break down stubborn teams like Chagos.
You face Chagos again this weekend…
We expect the personnel, whoever plays, to not allow our standard to drop for one moment. We can’t afford lapses of concentration, we can’t dip below the bar we set ourselves in the second half on Sunday. It’s all about building on that now, being solid at the back and scoring more goals ourselves.
Photo credit: Nathanael Osborne