IN THE second and final part of a chat with chairman Phillip Turner, deputy sports editor RUSSELL CLAYDON asks where he sees the club heading.
GETTING promoted would not need to bring an overhaul of Chris Tracey’s squad – quite the opposite, according to chairman Phillip Turner.
The man who controls the purse strings at the King’s Marsh club has seen more than enough this season, against the likes of Eastbourne Borough (Conference South) and Arlesey Town (Southern League Premier) in cup ties to believe they could hold their own.
“One of the reasons Chris has been appointed now (12 month extension to end of 2012/2013) is that if we are in a position to be promoted he will be looking at what he needs for the following season and it is an ideal situation to look at players,” said Turner.
But he added: “The squad we have at the moment is arguably good enough to keep us in the division above (Ryman Premier) – we have played several teams in the division above us this season and we have more than held our own.”
With ex-England international Jamie Redknapp having opened a £2.1 million investment in a new clubhouse and changing room in June 2010, off-the-field the club is more than ready for a step up the non-League pyramid.
And Turner believes step three (three leagues below the Football League), rather than the current step four in Ryman One North, is where they belong right now.
“I think our natural level is probably in the league above this,” he said. “If we got into the league above that (Conference North/South) then that is great, but with the facilities and the players we have got, we could easily hold our own in the league above.
“That is where I want us. To be back playing against the Burys and the Lowestofts of this world would be tremendous.”
But having revealed he increased the wage budget in the summer to achieve his dream through the play-offs this year (AFC missing out by two points last campaign), Turner is not prepared to compromise his footballing principles garnered growing up watching the likes of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking at Upton Park.
He said: “Having been a supporter of West Ham all my life, and seeing the way football should be played, I love to see a passing game of football, which is the way Chris wants to play.
“I don’t like to see the ball just lumped forward and everyone running on to it.
“Some teams see that as the most effective way of promotion, but Chris wants to try and get us playing football and that is the main thing and giving the fans what they love to see.”
Of the current campaign, Turner ended our conversation by adding the club is prepared to back Tracey with another addition to his squad to bring in a much-needed strike partner for top scorer James Baker, without moving someone else on.
“Chris has a budget and he is playing within that budget at the moment and if he needs to bring someone in we are quite capable of doing that,” he said.