Speaking to the club’s official website this morning, Barnet manager Martin Allen was raring to go ahead of this weekend’s game against Luton Town at The Hive on Sunday.
“I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s going to be a real difficult test for us on but without a shadow of a doubt it will be a good game to play in and to watch.
“John Still is a good friend of mine and has always helped me with guidance and advice, so I’m very pleased for him that he’s managed to get them back into the Football League. They’ve brought in some good players and I think that they’ll do really well next season. ”
Allen also revealed that he was pleased for the Luton fans following their promotion from the Conference, but admitted that the good will is probably not mutual:
“Last year was a remarkable season for the club and it’s got to be said that I was also chuffed to bits for all of the Luton supporters. Over the years they have stuck by their club, after the diabolical decisions to deduct them so many points, and it has been painful for all of the fans.
“There’s something on YouTube where the Luton supporters are singing a song about me, and my teenage sons used to turn it on at full volume when I was getting on their nerves at home. The supporters at Luton hate me, but I love their passion and that has gone on record so many times.”
With Barnet now having completed a fortnight of pre-season training, the manager is clearly happy with the way that preparations are progressing:
“The players have all worked really hard privately in the summer, which I warned them that they should do, and we’ve all worked really hard during pre-season.
“We don’t have the luxury of going abroad on training camps, but all the work, the organisation, the coaching, the fitness work has all been done here at The Hive and I’m very pleased with the way that it’s going”
However, with two games coming up in the space of three days, with Brentford also visiting The Hive on Tuesday night, Allen revealed that he would be making some slight adjustments to the team on Sunday:
"Our players are now getting round to playing up to 90 minutes. We have to rest some players of course and respect that some of our players are a little bit older so we’ll be trying to introduce some of the younger players into the side to fit into our system without weakening our team.
“It’s time for those players that are going to play to continue the good form that we’ve shown in the first two games that we’ve had, and to go and attack them.
“These are the eleven players that are going to start the game on Sunday will be Stack, Gambin, Weston, Akinde, Stephens, Johnson, Saville, Vilhete, Luisma, Marsh-Brown and Yiadom.”
Allen admitted that he was acutely aware that the Bees were not competitive enough with Luton last season and is determined to put that right, starting on Sunday:
“I think Luton will see a very different Barnet team to the one that they saw last year. The mentality and the culture had to change, there’s no doubt about it, and it had to be drastic change.
“Four part-time clubs finished above Barnet last season, and we finished 31 points behind Luton. 31 points, that’s eleven games. That can’t happen again. It’s a completely different work ethic and character with the group of players that we’ve now got.
“On Sunday it may be a pre-season friendly, but it won’t be a friendly on our part, it’s a game that we have got to try and win. They’re the champions and we’ll show them respect, but when it comes to the game I want to beat them. We’ve got to get that culture and that mentality into these players and now is the time to do it.”