Will Rocks turn to one they know for new boss?

Michael Birmingham is one of the names linked with the Bognor job / Picture by Habibur Rahman

Michael Birmingham is one of the names linked with the Bognor job / Picture by Habibur Rahman

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Bognor chief Jack Pearce repeated his vow they won’t rush into appointing a new manager and admitted: I haven’t got a clue who it will be.

The Rocks are first talking to players to see which of the Ryman League promotion-winning squad will stay for the new season – and only then will they decide who they want as Jamie Howell’s replacement.

There are numerous names in the frame for the job, with former Rocks Michael Birmingham and Miles Rutherford, currently at Horndean and Chichester City respectively, thought to be among the favourites to land the role.

Former Worthing joint boss Jon Meeney and Horsham manager Dominic di Paola are others whose names have cropped up as fans and others speculate about the vacancy.

One who had been talked about but has now gone elsewhere is former Selsey and Woerthing manager Adam Hinshelwood, who has left his coaching job at Brighton to become Hastings’ new manager.

Rocks general manager Pearce said the focus at present was on talking to players.

We’re talking to players and expect that to take until the end of next week. So far that’s been quite positive and I think more will stay than will go.

Jack Pearce

“I’m not too bothered about appointing a manager right at the moment,” he said.

“We’re talking to players and expect that to take until the end of next week. So far that’s been quite positive and I think more will stay than will go.

“You’ll always get one or two who want to move on to a new challenge or who you think should move on. That’s what happens in football, there’s always movement of players.

“We’ve spoken to five players this week who have until Friday to say yes or no to a new deal, and the indications so far are that they’re staying.”

There’s talk of goalscoring midfielder James Fraser interesting at least one Ryman one south club that Bognor have left behind, while fans fear keeper and player of the season Dan Lincoln may be picked up by a higher-division club.

Pearce reiterated they would decide on a new boss only when they knew what sort of squad they had. And he repeated that whoever came in to replace Howell would have to work with the existing coaching staff and buy into the club’s philsophy of having a fit, disciplined team who liked to play passing football.

Many supporters think they’re likely to go for someone they know, like Birmingham or Rutherford.

Birmingham was a Nyewood Lane legend as a player and manager and had a spell as boss last time they were at National League South level, while Rutherford was a popular player at the Lane and has since had plenty of managerial success at Moneyfields and Chichester City.

Meanwhile the Rocks have had to put up ticket prices for 2017-18, but say they are confident they have done it fairly.

Adults will pay £12 on a matchday – up from £10 last season – while a season ticket will cost £201. Over 65s, who previously paid the same as adults, will pay only £9 on the day or £151 for a season.

Under-18s and students with ID get in for £5 (season ticket £84), while those who are under 16s on August 5 can apply to the club for a free season ticket.

Pearce said: “We’ve kept prices the same for four years so we had to look at it, irrespective of which league we were in. But in the National League South our prices are a below average – a number of clubs charge £13 or £14. We’re also doing good deals for senior citizens and, to encourage the fans of tomorrow, young people.

“Because we’re in the National League now, we have two fewer home league games and an extra week to pay the players and these are all factors to take into account.”

Bognor have announced two friendlies so far – they will host Pompey on Wednesday, July 19 (7pm) and Crawley Town on either Tuesday, July 25, or Wednesday 26.

STEVE BONE

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