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New boss Monkhouse still looking for first win PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Thursday, 15 October 2020

andy monkhouse.pngSeven games into the season new Pontefract Collieries manager Andy Monkhouse is still waiting for his first 90-minute victory.

They were successful in the first game, an FA Cup-tie victory at Hebburn but that was 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

They went out of the Cup in the next round, beaten 6-2 at FC United of Manchester, and their most recent League game ended with a similar score in defeat on Tuesday at Colne.

In between they lost 3-0 to both Ramsbottom and Tadcaster Albion, with the best performance a 1-1 draw at home to Marske United to go with a1-1 home draw with Runcorn.

All of which means Workington boss Danny Grainger will be determined that Reds won’t be Pontefract’s first victims on a pitch where the Cumbrians lost 2-1 last New Year’s Day.

But Grainger’s men will face a completely different Collieries line-up after Monkhouse was handed one of the toughest jobs in non-league – signing-up a new team in the backdrop of Covid-19 uncertainty.

The former Rotherham United midfielder replaced the club’s most successful-ever boss Craig Parry who left to take charge of Worksop Town with most of the playing squad in April.

Only Gavin Rothery and Fabian Bailey remain from last season and apart from those two and Mike Emery, Ben Gordon and ex-Farsley Celtic and Altrincham goal machine Damian Reeves, Monkhouse has recruited a youthful squad.

There’s many talented young players who have arrived such as Albert Ibrahimi and defenders Dom Claxton and Callum Walmsley.

Monkhouse has a clear playing philosophy for his Ponte side and a strict profile for potential players and he says he is really happy with his recruitment, especially considering the position he found himself in May.

“Whilst I want to develop young players and give them the opportunity which I will, you still need experienced players who have been around and know this level to help them.

“The experienced lads I have got are good people and they will help the young lads. I also want players who are confident on the ball and people who can get around a pitch.

“Hopefully we will gel well and we will do ok. There will be some iffy results along the way and it will take time (for us to gel),” he said ahead of the season. 

But in some ways Pontefract’s biggest success has been putting a team out, as Monkhouse explained.

“I didn’t have any players when I started. We couldn’t train and I couldn’t speak to anyone face-to-face. Everything was on e-mail or phone call.

“It has also been difficult because I have had to really start from scratch. I must admit at times I did think ‘we haven’t got any players’ and we’ll be starting pre-season soon.

“But when pre-season came along I had 20-odd players. There was genuine concern at one point because a lot of players I had spoken to had said they weren’t making decisions because of the lockdown, work and because we didn’t know when the season would even start.

“It wouldn’t have happened last summer and every club was in the same boat (because of the lockdown).

“It has been difficult, but it has been good for me as I’ve been learning as we go along. Looking back now, to have had a longer settling in period than you would normally have has been a good thing.”

Pontefract were the most physical side that Reds came up against last season but with such a young base, and a new philosophy from Monkhouse that won’t be the case this time.

“Hopefully the fans will have seen the type of football I want to play. It is a little bit of everything, but I want to play attractive football by playing out from the back. 

“But I’m not naive to say we’ll be doing that for 90 minutes everywhere we go. We’ll play the right sort of football and if it means we have to go a little more direct, I’ve got players who can do that.

“If I want to play through the thirds I can do that. The lads know there may be times when we have to win ugly and I’d take that.”

Monkhouse was a left-field choice for the job as he beat off competition from a very experienced manager to win the post, despite having no previous managerial experience.

Prior to playing for Ossett United and Tadcaster Albion last season, Monkhouse played 500 times in the Football League for Rotherham, Hartlepool United and Swindon Town before dropping into Non League Football in 2014.

Rookie Monkhouse admits that he did not expect land a management job this year and he is thankful of the support he has received from the chairman and the club’s hierarchy.

“When the season ended when I was at Tadcaster it was in the back of my mind that I wanted to finish playing,” he said.

“I didn’t honestly think I’d get a chance like this so soon, but it is one I am really excited about.

“Trevor and the club have been brilliant in difficult circumstances 

“He’s basically said ‘go and get the players you want’ and I’m hopefully creating a good environment and with a clear philosophy that my players are buying into.

“I know the club has been really successful, but I’m under no pressure from above. No-one is saying ‘we need to be top of the league’ or we need to be near the top by Christmas.

“I’m only under the pressure I have put myself, my staff and my players under and we’ll see where we go.”

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