Pic: Matt Bristow
By Jon Couch
HE’S played under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Claudio Ranieri, Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, but Steve Watt insists he will do it his way when leading the Margate revolution this season.
At just 32, the former Chelsea, Swansea and Maidstone United defender has been charged with bringing fresh life back to the Kent club after a miserable season in National League South last year.
With ambitious new owners at the helm, rookie boss Watt finds himself at the forefront of a club back on the up with their Hartsdown Park ground currently undergoing a 3G refit and a host of impressive new signings on board, ready to give the fans some much-needed cheer.
And Watt believes that by taking individual qualities from each high-profile manager he’s worked under, he will find the winning formula and open the gate to an exciting new era.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some fantastic names and I’ll take something from them all,” said Watt, who signed a permanent two-year deal with the club in the summer after taking caretaker charge in February.
“From the intricate planning and attention to detail of Mourinho to the man-management skills and emphasis on togethernes of Jay Saunders at Maidstone, I’ll take a little piece of each.
“What they all have in common though is that football is their life. You have to be dedicated at what you do and be prepared to go that extra mile if you want to succeed.
“The good people at this football club have been through some terrible times on and off the pitch but I can promise them I will give my all to Margate and help bring the good times back. I believe this club is a sleeping giant.”
Watt has already made his statement of intent by landing a host of impressive new signings including big striker Alex Flisher after he announced last week he was to leave Maidstone after eight years at his hometown club.
Flisher, 25, will be joined at Hartsdown Park next season by a host of other Kent favourites including former Stones team-mates Tom Mills, James Rogers and Jack Evans, experienced goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley, Dartford defender Tom Wynter, Folkestone Invicta legend Liam Friend and Bromley’s former Millwall centre-back Dave Martin.
It’s a new-look squad with a strong emphasis on experience as Watt believes that quality will be key if they are to bounce straight back from the Bostik League this season.
“If you look at the team we had at Maidstone when we won this league in 2013-14, and the same with Havant last year and Hampton the year before…they were all full of experienced players,” he said.
“We have just set up a new Under 21s side here so will focus heavily on youth as well this year, but having an experienced squad, with plenty of league winners on board, will no doubt be vital to us.”
Indeed, Watt’s managerial skills have been tested before a ball has even been kicked after another of his new signings, Michael Thalassitis, entered TV hit show Love Island last week – without even telling him!
The former Ebbsfleet and Chelmsford striker caused a stir on the ITV2 show before his exit last Wednesday night, but Watt insists that pre-season crisis talks on his return are off the mark.
“It was disappointing that he didn’t tell me he was going on the show, but I’m not angry or annoyed, I know the industry myself and accept it’s a good opportunity for him away from football,” he added.
“His father has apologised to me on his behalf for not informing me, but he’s not in trouble like some of the papers are suggesting. We’ll have a chat about the way he went about it but as long as it does not affect his football or the club then I’m happy.”