GARY Moran admits taking over the reigns at Rugby Town feels like ‘coming home’ but is well aware of the task in hand as he looks to turn the club’s fortunes around in the Evostik NPL South Division.
Moran becomes the latest incumbent of the Rugby Town hot-seat, after the club confirmed last Thursday that the 33-year-old would now take permanent charge after two games as caretaker boss following the recent departure of James Jepson.
Jepson quit after just four months in charge at Butlin Road and Moran now becomes Town’s fourth new manager since Dave Stringer left in May 2015.
His first game in full charge at the weekend against Northwich Victoria ended in another defeat for Valley, their fifth in a row, leaving them three points adrift at the very foot of the table and facing another mid-season battle to maintain their non-league level four status.
Despite the challenging task facing him, the newly-installed manager was looking forward to getting into the role.
“I’m a Rugby-lad and it feels like I’m coming back home,” said Moran. “I’ve got a long association with the club and a real affinity towards them, and I will be trying my hardest to do well for my home town.
“Of course things aren’t going that well at the moment, but I want to put that right.
“We know we have to change the make-up of the side over the coming weeks, but I’m happy to work with what we have here for now, whilst we identify the new faces that we think we need and work hard to bring them to the club.
“In the three games that I have been in charge, I feel that we have been competitive and only lost by the odd goal or two, but we are just lacking that extra bit of quality – that final pass or finish that we need to start moving up the division again.
“With the experience and contacts that I’ve got within the local non-league football scene, added to those of Martin Sockett and Scott Hadland, I’m sure that we can stabilise things and then ultimately get the club back up a level in the pyramid again.”
Three new signings, Simon Fitter, Sean Brain and Aaron Moses-Garvey, made starts against Northwich, with another Adrian Boitos featuring from the bench, and Moran was hoping to tie-up deals for further arrivals soon.
He continued: “Whilst it’s always going to be difficult to build a squad once a season is underway, on the plus side you often find that ten games or so into a new campaign players are starting to realise where they are at clubs and whether they will be getting a regular game or not, so there are often plenty of unsettled players looking for a move.”
Moran had wasted no time in appointing Martin Sockett as his right-hand man who returns to the club for a fourth spell – this time as Head Coach, after two stints as manager between 1998 and 2001 and for the 2010-11 season, in addition to a spell as assistant to Stringer the following year.
Sockett is joined in the backroom team by Scott Hadland, who played alongside Moran at Stratford Town, where they enjoyed a promotion season into the Southern League Premier Division in 2014/15, with Moran also holding the role of assistant-manager to Carl Adams in this time period.
“I have played for Martin a number of times in my career now, and as well as being someone with excellent knowledge and connections at this level, he is also a man I really trust – and that is something that is very important within football,” Moran added.
“I guess this opportunity has come quicker than I expected, but I would not have put myself forward for it if I hadn’t felt I was up to the challenge.”