Having taken over from long-serving co-managers Sam Lynch and Mike Lawson, Spartans boss Douglas Samuel is keen to re-claim the league title for the club as well as go on another famous Scottish Cup run (writes Alan Clark). In this exclusive interview with North Edinburgh News, Samuel also discusses the young element of the new Spartans squad and entering the SFL in the future.
Stirling University, who have recruited ex-Falkirk manager Eddie May as boss, pipped Spartans to the league championship on goal difference on the last day of the season and Samuel has admitted wrestling the title back is one of the priorities he has as manager.
He said: “The short term goal is to win the title back. I believe we are capable of doing so. However, two or three other club managers will be thinking and feeling exactly the same way.”
The Ainslie Park side are going through a transition and have started blooding more youngsters in the first-team. Samuel explained: “I believe our new squad has a good combination of established players with a great pedigree and proven track record mixed with younger players with great potential; however, it’s also fair to say that it’s a work in progress.
“It’s a new squad and the start of a new era of major transition for the football club on and off the park. From last year’s squad, five experienced players have moved on. Everyone in the group has a real desire to do well, to restore the club to its former glories.
“The immediate test is to integrate our new signings, to create a real sense of togetherness and understanding around how we would like to play throughout the group. I know from past experience that both of these things take time to develop and achieve.”
After a trophy-less season Samuel is desperate to win silverware in his debut in the Spartans’ dugout, and sees a huge benefit from a Scottish Cup run. He added: “Success for us will come in various shapes and forms. Clearly after a season when the team didn’t win a single trophy we are desperate to win something this coming season. A Scottish Cup run would give everyone a huge lift at the start of our journey.”
Samuel, who is also Development Manager at the club’s Community Football Academy, is looking at his squad’s development as well as the obvious craving for success through silverware. He commented: “If, by the end of the season, we have improved as a group and each player has developed and improved as a player then that would represent real progress and success. Crucially, it’s also something we can control. Whether or not that results in silverware, time will tell.”
The former Edinburgh University boss, who spent nine years with the club, believes the proposed Highland and Lowland league – which would create a route into senior league football – would be a great thing for the game and his club.
He said: “A pyramid system would be great for Scottish football. As a club we would relish the opportunity of playing our way into the Scottish Football League. Our current focus is on meeting short term goals but with one eye on the future too.
“For example, the majority of our new signings are young players starting off their careers with what we hope will be their best years in front of them. This season is the start of a transition, however, the goal remains to win football matches and see where that takes us in terms of winning silverware.”