Barnet manager Martin Allen was a happy man following his side’s first win of their pre-season campaign against Stevenage on Tuesday night.
“I thought it was a good performance. Our team were very competitive. We played some good football and thoroughly deserved to win. What pleased me more than anything was that all 21 players that went on played the same and worked very hard together.”
Barnet have so far put in encouraging displays against two sides that were playing in League One last year, but Allen is adamant that such performances were no more than he expected:
“Nothing has surprised me. I knew they’d all come back fit. They are very professional, they are very honest and they are very united. Nothing surprises me one little bit.
I knew the players that I was bringing in and what they were like, and I knew the young players and that they just needed some help and a little bit of support. Some of the senior players that have come in have provided that, and some of the players that were here before have stepped up a gear. Together we will do really well.”
He was particularly pleased with the way that his team dealt with the physical challenge posed by Graham Westley’s Stevenage side, and said that that ability to front up will prove invaluable during the season ahead:
“We saw last year in just the short time I was here that there were some big, tough teams and you’ve got to be able to man up against them, stand up to them and compete with them. There were certain games when I was here last year where it was men against boys. I don’t think it’s going to be like that anymore.
“It’s all well and good wanting to play like Barcelona but if you don’t defend long throws, set pieces, corners and free kicks then you can tap it about as much as you like. Last season we finished 30 points behind the leaders and that can’t ever happen again.”
Allen made full use of his squad once again, making ten substitutions after 63 minutes, and he admitted that he was equally pleased with the performances of the younger players during thelast half an hour:
“It’s different for some of the young lads, it’s new for them to play a different way like we’re playing at the moment and fitting into that. I was delighted for Mauro [Vilhete] and [Luke] Gambin, and [George] Sykes and Jamal Lowe. I don’t normally pick out individuals but they played very well.
“It’s very important for me personally to know that we can put those young lads on, in our team, and that they can do really well. You’ve got to remember that some of those Stevenage players were playing in League One last season and they didn’t look out of place.
I’ve got to develop some of these younger players and try to bring them through. I am going to work with them, they are going to have to do extra, but I’m going to need to bring them into the first team squad to do well. There’s a long way to go but the signs are good.”
Off the pitch, Allen was also full of praise for his new assistants and backroom staff who are playing a key role in preparing the team for the forthcoming season:
“[Jon] Nurse and [Graham] Stack have been brilliant off the field helping me, the pair of them. It was probably one of the best decisions that I’ve made to give them a player-coach role, they have both been an absolute joy to work with, as has our new physio Jayde [Cook]. All three of them have been brilliant.”
Finally, the manager spoke about the ongoing situation with Dan Bradley, who was once again absent on Tuesday having expressed his desire to live and play further north, with the club continuing to try and find a solution to accommodate that.
“Dan was an early signing but he had a chat with me a few times over the phone during the summer saying that he didn’t really want to come down here and that he thought that he had made the wrong decision. We’ve been having a few ongoing chats that we couldn’t really disclose to the public. I’m sure that everyone will understand that legally we had to do things properly.
“It is disappointing because he is a good player but it is probably best for us and best for him that we let him go. The finalities of that are just about to be done. It’s disappointing but all human beings have a choice about what they want to do and we have to respect his choice, it is part of life. He’s made that choice and I respect it, so there are no hard feelings.”