Date: Wed 06 Jun 2018

Llandudno’s Williams looks forward to working with blank canvas

Iwan Williams and Llandudno have been tireless in their efforts so far to recruit and refresh their side after a challenging season in the JD Welsh Premier League last time out.

The manager himself spoke to WPL.Cymru recently to look ahead at the coming term as well as reflecting on his first experience of JDWPL football last season.

"I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a blank canvas with my team, my changing room, and a much better culture than last year. Not finishing in the top six at the split last year killed the group in a sense, but had we got there I think it would have papered over the cracks, because we just weren’t good enough.

"We’ve been up and down the A55 every night over the last few weeks, trying to get players over the line, get new faces through the door, and we’ve done very well, I think.

"It has only been a few weeks since the season finished, but Matty Williams and I were saying to each other last week just how much we’ve missed being involved in it all. I’ve got a family holiday this week, which will be nice to recharge the batteries, but when I’m back I’ll be itching to get going as we’re all really excited about the new season."

’It was a fantastic learning curve.’

His opening stint in the JD Welsh Premier League was a battle for Williams, undoubtedly, as he took over following Alan Morgan’s dismissal mid-season and was tasked with getting the side into the top six.

The former Llandudno captain, however, is well known for his ambition and self-evaluation, so Williams spoke freely and honestly about the challenges of last season and how he hopes to use that experience to improve in the coming year.

"I think I could have adapted to the squad I inherited a bit better, to be honest. Before the split we faced teams like Bangor and Cardiff Met, tried to keep things tight and make things difficult for our opponents and found some success at times doing that.

"Finding ourselves in the bottom six, I gave the group a bit more of a free rein to go and play a more expansive brand of football that I like my teams to play, but the group weren’t quite suited for that and it never quite happened the way we wanted it to.

"As tough as it was, losing quite a few games, personally it was a fantastic learning curve. Everything is filmed, everyone has access to all of the games, and there is no room for error. I’ve learnt a great deal in how to go about things, and pre-season will be massive for the club.

"We’ve rebuilt a squad and establishing the desired culture and environment for everyone to thrive within will be vitally important. Everyone we’ve brought in are ones who will run through brick walls for each other and fit the identity we’re trying to create. It is very exciting, I can’t wait to get going."

’I’m still hurting about finishing tenth, because nobody wants to do that – certainly not me.’

With Cefn Druids achieving huge feats last season on a very tight budget, Williams admits he has taken some inspiration from studying the work Huw Griffiths has done at The Rock and looked to apply it at Maesdu Park.

With a small group of more senior, experienced players lining the backbone of the side, Williams has filled in around that group with a lot of younger talent, in addition to players who have been looking to prove a point by being successful in Wales’ premier division, but most importantly the manager feels signing players from the local area is something that could serve the side particularly well.

"We’ve looked at Huw Griffiths and the fantastic job he has done this year in signing a core of very experienced players and then filling in around them with a group of players who are desperate to take to the pitch and work hard for each other to achieve success.

"This year we’ve tried to do the same, signing Kai Edwards, Mike Pearson, Shaun Pearson, and retaining Danny Hughes and Matty Williams, so there is the spine of your team, which is very experienced, very capable, and one that can achieve real success with the group we’ve built around them.

"I’ve tracked most of these players for a very long time and to get them through the door is quite refreshing, but as much as they will have a point to prove, so will I. Llandudno is a very ambitious football club, as I am a very ambitious manager, so we’ll be looking to get off to a flyer.

"We’ve also signed a lot of lads who are from the area, or live nearby, and I think that gives the area a bit of a buzz, so it will mean something to them to finish top six and represent their home at the highest level.

"This is the club I call home too, a large part of my playing career was spent here and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I captained the club, I have fantastic memories of being here, and it is a real privilege to manage the club.

"It was going to get worse before it got better, I said that to the chairman after my first game against Barry, because you could sense the stagnation and it was going to take a lot of work to get past that, but that’s why I was brought in and now I’m looking forward to taking this project forward.

"I’m still hurting about finishing tenth, because nobody wants to do that – certainly not me – but now it is a blank canvas, which is very exciting, and I’m sure we can go on and achieve our goals."

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