Pic: Mike Capps
GLENN DRIVER can’t believe his phone hasn’t been red hot with managers enquiring about Leiston’s star striker Matt Blake this summer.
The 28-year-old hammered in 42 goals for the Step 3 Blues last season after scoring more than 120 times in three Eastern Counties League seasons for Norwich United.
National League side Bromley showed some interest for Blake, who turned down a move to big-spending Billericay Town last season, but for now he looks to be staying put.
That’s good news for Driver as his side look to build on last season’s seventh-place finish in the Bostik Premier – but he says he feels for Blake.
“In football you have to take gambles,” Driver told The NLP. “We took a gamble when we offered him a two-year deal last year. He stepped up from Norwich United after being at that level for three years, scoring 120-plus goals.
“You get to a point in your career where you think, ‘Right, do I stay or do I take a gamble if someone is interested?’ He did that and stepped up to us. In pre-season I thought, ‘Flipping hell, is this guy going to score goals? He can’t hit a barn door!’
“All of a sudden, two weeks before the season, he scored in a friendly and then when the season came he was on fire.
“Alright he’s 28 and that’s a little bit of an age where he’s in between, but I personally believe if you’re brave enough to take a chance on somebody, like we did, then what have you lost?
“I had a couple of people in mind to replace him because I thought my phone would be red hot. That hasn’t happened.
“I’m disappointed for the player, he’s a humble guy and I feel he deserves a move higher.
“But it’s early days. A lot of pro clubs are only just getting back so someone might still come in for him at the 11th hour.”
Blake’s goals were a big factor in Leiston finishing as the league’s highest scorer last seasdon, but Driver knows they were too open defensively at times.
The boss admits they may have to temper their swashbuckling side on the road next season – not that he’ll be applying the handbrake completely.
“We conceded far too many goals last year,” Driver said. “I’ve got to take full responsibility for that because I’m a manager who believes the best line of defence is to attack. We probably tried to win games before we were in them. That’s something I’m going to have get a little bit better at this year.
“I’m a massive fan of Spanish football. I love watching teams like Barcelona, Seville, even Malaga and Real Betis. They all like to get the ball down and attack.
“I certainly won’t change my philosophy on the way the game is played. But the bodies I’ve brought in, like Dominic Docherty, Robert Eagle, Chris Henderson, will help give us a bit of stability defensively, even though we’ll be good going forward as well. I can’t wait for the new season.”