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The South End is extremely pleased to bring you this exclusive interview with the main man Lee Bradbury. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr Bradbury, who kindly answered a selection of questions about his career at AFC Bournemouth.
You have achieved an impressive level of success in your relatively short time at AFC Bournemouth. What has been the high point, and low point, as both a manager and a player?
The high point has to be getting the job as this was what I always wanted to do. Since having the job it would have to be reaching the play-offs. And the low point would have to be losing the play-offs, for getting so close but so far away. But, we lost to a team that have gone on and are still unbeaten in 41 games. In any other year they would get promoted, so it was no mean feat, we did great. As a player getting promoted and obviously beating Grimsby to stay in the Football League, it was a massive day.
“The high point has to be getting the job as this was what I always wanted to do. Since having the job it would have to be reaching the play-offs”
As a newcomer in the world of management who has been the biggest influence both inside and outside of football?
There’s so many really that I look up to as managers Guardiola, people like Sir Alex Ferguson, they’re the people all managers aspire to be like, Arsene Wenger for bringing in players you have never heard of and turning them into world-class players. So they’re the people I look at and try to become almost.
I have also taken positives from all the managers I have worked with and they have helped my management style. I think I am an approachable manager and the lads know they can talk to me and be honest with me and I’ll be exactly the same back whether they like it or not. In a lot of cases they don’t like it because I am leaving them out of the team, but I’ll also speak to them and let them know what I think they need to improve on to get in the squad.To get in the team and help work with them day in, day out to get better.
Tactics and formations are integral to the game of football. Much has been made of the away formation you have adopted with a good deal of success. What is your preferred formation at home and why do you think it hasn’t been as successful?
It has been well-documented that we have a great away record and not so good at home. I want to change that straight away, I’m excited about the game Saturday (Scunthorpe H). I feel if the lads apply themselves in the way they did at Preston, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. The fans are right behind us and we feel that at home we want to repay them. We want to get a home win, again as soon as possible and its going to be a great opportunity for us this weekend against Scunthorpe. I wanted to play the next home game straight away after losing to Bury to try and put things right. We have had good performances but not great results and that is going to change, as I keeping saying to the lads you get out what you put in and if you keep putting in 100% and working hard for each other, more often than not you will get what you deserve.
Turning 11 players into a team is crucial to the success of a team. How would you describe your style of man management and what techniques do you use to help the team bond?
As far as team bonding its difficult really because we haven’t had too many breaks in our schedule to do anything as a team. I took them away pre-season for a night and a day to do some activities, a bit of boxing, a bit of bowling, a meal and things like that, but we eat every day together, we train, obviously, together, so we’ve got a good group and I feel like they are getting to know each other well now off the pitch and this is transpiring on the pitch.
There are a lot of new faces and it takes time to gel, it doesn’t happen overnight but I do really feel that we are making positive steps.
As you well know Steve Fletcher is a legend at AFC Bournemouth. What is his role as your assistant and does the fact that he is still an active member of the squad have an effect on his role?
Obviously, we have got Ryan Garry now as well and that frees Fletch up to train all the time, whereas before I was doing the majority of training then Fletch would help, doing the strikers. Whereas Fletch can now, during training days, relax and train like a player, but at the same time be involved in any decisions I am making, I bounce a lot of stuff off him and I like him as a lad and as a player. He is someone I trust and I think we work well together.
“I bounce a lot of stuff off him (Steve Fletcher) and I like him as a lad and as a player. He is someone I trust and I think we work well together”
What is your pre-match routine for a home game?
I get to the ground about 10.30, I do the majority of stuff on a Friday, so everything’s done really. But, I like to get in early to get a feel for it and do any last minute things that I need to do, I like the anticipation and build-up to a game and I want to make sure everything is done for the lads when they arrive at 1.15pm
How do you go about identifying potential transfer targets and typically how often will a player been seen in action before making them an offer?
We have our chief scout Steve Gritt who has been manager at Brighton and Charlton, he’s been around a long time playing and being involved in the game. He goes and watches a lot of games and a lot of players for us. I’ll identify a position I am looking for, Steve will go and look at some players that I have already identified and he will come back to me and say you should go and watch him yourself or I don’t think he is what you are looking for. Then me, Steve Fletcher and Ryan Garry will go and look at them as well. We will look at them at least a couple of times before, if not more than that.
You inherited a successful team from Eddie Howe last season, but after the sales of much of that team you are now in the midst of rebuilding. How near to completion is the rebuilding process?
I think we are a couple of players short. We have brought in some good young players and they will be really good for this club I feel, given a bit of time. But, we also have some good senior pros in Adam Barrett, Daryl Flahavan and people that know what it takes to do well in this league. We have got a good mixture, with youth and seniority, so I feel that we are probably one or two players away from having a squad that can compete in this league.
TFTSE: Injuries have been a downside, Shaun MacDonald came in and got injured after a couple of games and he was looking like a very good player.
Yeah, he came in and did great, it was a big move for him coming from Swansea, he’d been there since he was 10 years old. He’s come in and done fantastically, unfortunately he got injured, but he will be another one that will be really good for the club. He’s the right age, right type of player, he’s hungry to do well, the same as the rest of the lads. We had ten in the treatment room today, so if I get a fully fit squad, which you very rarely do, or get the majority of them fit we have got a good squad.
The chairman is the person who runs the club while the manager runs the team. How is your relationship with chairman and how often do you get together to discuss club/team matters?
The chairman obviously runs the club and he has done it fantastically well since he has come here. He has moved the club forward and if you look at the state of the finances when he took over and the team’s gone forward and the club’s moved forward. Obviously we made a lot of sales last year and that’s what fans will see, but I know that he has got the good of the club in his heart, he wants to drive the club forward, he wants the club to be successful as much as the next man.
I get on very well with him, I am honest with him and he is the same with me. We both have a passion for football and AFC Bournemouth and together we want to drive it forward. We meet up a couple of times a week if not more.
“We both (Lee Bradbury and chairman Eddie Mitchell) have a passion for football and AFC Bournemouth and together we want to drive it forward”
What would you class as a realistic ambition for this season. And, what are your ambitions for the team next season?
Our realistic ambition is to come as high as we can, I want to win every game that we go into. I wouldn’t want to say we don’t want to get promoted, that would be a stupid thing to say, I want to get promoted. A realistic thing to say is that I want the lads to perform to the best of their ability game in and game out, day in, day out, in training, to get better and to work harder as a team and to come as high as we can. Whether that’s 10th or 15th, whatever it may be, as long as the lads are putting in 100% and I, the chairman, the fans and everyone can see it and more importantly they and their team-mates know they are doing the best they can, that’s all I can ask of them. I think we have a good squad given a bit of time and we will push up the league.
We have played a lot of teams off the park and haven’t got the results we deserve, but that will change. Games like Saturday (Preston away) we had a good result and the lads put in a good shift for each other. We are one of the best teams in the league in terms of the attractive football we play, and if we start believing that week in and week out I think we can really rocket up the league.
A big thanks to Max Fitzgerald for organising the interview.