Kevin Watson had a brief introductory meeting with director of football Steve Lovell ahead of the New Year’s Day clash with Dagenham & Redbridge and the two men found common ground immediately about where the Fleet lacked the quality required.
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent before the draw at home to Dagenham, Lovell said, “I’m very excited by it, I really am. It’s different to management in that you’re not 100% on the training ground but obviously I’ve spoken to Kevin and I’m getting to know exactly what he wants to bring into the team. Going forward we’ll look at recruiting now in January and bring a few players in to help us move up the league hopefully.”
About the exact nature of his role, Lovell commented: “I’ll be helping Kevin regarding the recruitment of players. Any help he needs, he can come to me and he can ask me anything. I’ve already spoken to him about that. I won’t interfere at all with what he wants to happen on the football field. And if he wants a little advice, I’ll help him. But mainly it’s to deal with football matters away from the training ground, i.e. looking after the players and trying to bring players into the club, going to look at other teams we’ll be playing against in the next two or three months, helping to strengthen the squad and move us up the league.”
Lovell has been no stranger to the Kuflink Stadium, having watched the Fleet on numerous occasions and he believes the ability is there to escape the bottom four.
“We’ve got a decent squad here at the moment and I’ve been to see them play for the last seven or eight games really,” said the former Gillingham boss. “Even the game against Dover the other day, we were very unlucky not to win that game and I think Andy Hessenthaler said exactly the same thing. So we’ve just got to keep going regarding the team, keep working.
“I think the confidence is there, Kevin has instilled a lot of confidence in the boys and a good way of playing football as well. There’s a little bit of luck needed like everybody needs in the game but if we keep working hard, like they are, I’m sure we’ll get out of the bottom four.
“In the last six or seven that I’ve seen, no team has really outplayed Ebbsfleet and against Dover the other day I think we should have won the game. Apart from the first quarter of an hour, I think Ebbsfleet dominated and they were unlucky to concede against Dagenham away so perhaps there is a bit of a confidence thing. The players work hard for each other and I think the effort was evident against Dover in the second half.”
While Lovell’s task – like Watson’s – is survival in the short term, he insists there are ambitions beyond the next few months.
“It’s a rolling contract I’m on,” he said. “They’ve employed me to help the team progress, not just this year but hopefully going forward next year, staying in this league but then building on it in the summer. It’s a long-term project. I was speaking to the owner and he’s very optimistic about things that are to go on at this football club. I wouldn’t have come otherwise. We got on very well, we had a good chat and I’m really looking forward to getting into the role, helping Kevin and the club.”
Manager Watson also spoke of his first meeting with Lovell, saying “Steve has come into the club to help recruiting-wise and to identify players that I need. As we know, for a while we’ve chatted about what we need, that’s not changed. I know what I’ve got in this group, we do need to add to it and that’s why Steve’s at the club. We will be sitting down – I had a brief chat with him before the game, 20/25 minutes, about what I think we need and we’ll take it from there and I needed someone to help in terms of recruiting.”
And it seems Watson and Lovell are singing from the same hymn sheet already with regards to what areas need improving in the squad. The first task is to negotiate the future of the four loan players, with Marvel Ekpiteta’s paperwork to the end of the season still to be finalised, while discussions need to be had regarding Tyler Cordner, Josh Payne and Alex Reid.
“To get players in when you are down where you are, whether loan or permanent, isn’t an easy job,” Watson explained. “Steve has a good network of people he knows, he’s obviously worked in the game a long, long time. I’m sure he’ll be of benefit to us. We do need livening up and freshening up. Steve’s another body to help with the loans, which takes a little bit of the pressure off myself to be doing everything.
“We’ve identified positions in the brief chat we had. He was in agreement with me which is a good start as to what we may need and that’s what we’ll be looking for.”