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Maidstone United director of football Bill Williams discusses a busy summer at the Gallagher Stadium as club gear up for promotion push

Bill Williams believes Maidstone are building a team to challenge for the National League South championship.

Director of football Williams says it’s been a hectic time with the club playing catch-up after reaching last season’s play-offs.

Maidstone United director of football Bill Williams. Picture: Helen Cooper
Maidstone United director of football Bill Williams. Picture: Helen Cooper

They had two recruitment plans but had to wait until they knew which division they would be in before implementing one.

Manager George Elokobi released 10 players from the squad who reached the FA Cup fifth round and has set about rebuilding his squad for another promotion tilt.

“We were that close to getting promoted - we had a wonderful season,” said Williams.

“George has taken the stance where he’s said these are the players I want to keep and this is where we need to improve.

“We’ve got to go again. I don’t think that FA Cup run will ever be done again but I think we can get back to the National League, whether that’s this season or next.

“The way George manages, as long as he gets the recruitment right, he’ll be in with a chance most years to get this club up.

“We’re trying to put a team together that will have a go for the championship.”

Summer signings have gone down well with fans, with forwards Shaq Coulthirst and Pierre Fonkeu the latest additions, joining the likes of Temi Eweka, Charlie Seaman and Ben Brookes.

“With the huge success we had last year, we got left behind a little bit with recruiting,” said Williams.

Maidstone new boy Temi Eweka with manager George Elokobi. Picture: MUFC
Maidstone new boy Temi Eweka with manager George Elokobi. Picture: MUFC

“People will say I’m being ridiculous but we were 10-14 days behind everybody else because we were in the play-offs and by the time the dust has settled you’re three weeks behind.

“So it’s been a really hectic time for everyone, really busy, but we’re doing all right. We’re in a good place.

“We’re not finished yet but we’ve got the nucleus of what we were hoping to do.

“We’ve upped the age of the squad a little bit.

“Most probably the average age was 24 last year and now we’re looking around 26 and putting a little more experience on the pitch.

“There are arguments for and against.

“I always preferred more experienced players and we look like we're going down that route a bit but again you’re looking for a blend of players who complement each other.

“You look at Charlie Seaman, George Fowler, Reiss Greenidge, Temi Eweka, Ben Brookes, Jordan Higgs, it’s all positive stuff and there’s more to come.

“We’ll have a competitive team and everyone’s working flat-out to make that happen.

“It’s quite an ask to get rid of 10 players and bring 11 in.

“People think it’s easy but it’s not.

“When you’re letting players go, it all comes down to the eye of the beholder which in this case is the manager.

“It’s difficult for people like myself as a director of football and the owners to sway your managers because that isn’t how it works.

“At the end of the day, they train the players, they play and live with their players and they know who they can go forward with.

“The retained list is always down to the manager.

“In terms of numbers, some might have been shocked.

“But if you look at any player long and hard enough, you’ll find enough reasons to get rid of them, the same as you can find enough reasons to keep them.”

Maidstone will have a brand-new 3G pitch to play on this season, with work on the £250,000 replacement surface at the Gallagher completed.

But it’s down to the players to deliver.

Williams said: “The pitch looks immaculate, absolutely lovely.

“We could get out there and play tomorrow.

“We can talk about how wonderful a surface is but it’s the players that make the performance look good.

“I remember George Best, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Moore playing on terrible pitches and you got a bloody good game.

“You think nobody could play on those surfaces but they did.

“It’s all about the players but there’ll be no excuses for not being able to pass a decent ball at least.”

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