New Hawks assistant manager Barry Blankley wants to see a winning mentality return to Westleigh Park.
Blankley was last night unveiled – along with new goalkeeper Matt Pegler – as manager Stuart Ritchie’s new right-hand man after the club dismissed Sean New.
Former assistant manager New joined the Hawks, along with Ritchie, just over a month ago.
But the club decided to make a U-turn on his appointment, stating the ‘non-disclosure of previous convictions’.
For Blankley, the opportunity to join the Blue Square Bet South side came out of the blue after spending a couple of years away from management, having previously been in charge at Bashley and Salisbury City.
For the past two years he had been doing scouting for League Two and Conference Premier clubs.
But on his return to the dugout, he admitted to being excited by the challenge of working for the Hawks.
‘There is nothing quite like the buzz of being involved with the players on the field, in the dugout and changing rooms,’ said Blankley.
‘Stuart and I are both winners and that is something we want to instil in our squad.
‘In the past, the winning mentality has been strong at the club and it is something we want to regain.
‘Whenever I came here as a player and a manager with other clubs we knew that we would be in for a battle.
‘We want to instil the need to win in everything we do – even in the five-a-side games in training.
‘Team spirit is also an important feature and something Stuart and I are very keen on.
‘If we want to challenge for the play-offs, team spirit will also be a vital feature.
‘It is important that the whole squad pulls together and that is something Stuart and I will make sure happens.
‘We like our teams to play football in the right areas and play to their strengths.’
Ritchie is pleased to have the experienced Blankley on board, although, admitted losing New – his assistant at AFC Totton for eight years – wasn’t easy.
Despite the setback, he is determined to look forward and is delighted to have the experienced Blankley by his side.
‘The Sean New situation is a very sad personal thing for me because he is a good lad, but we just have to move on,’ said Ritchie.
‘I have known Barry for years and we played football together at Bashley
‘He also managed me for a while at Totton and is a guy I trust and can work with.
‘Barry has good contacts and knows this league and the one above.
‘He is very enthusiastic lad and talks to players in the right way.’
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Pegler joins the Hawks after a spell at Woking last season.
The 19-year-old prospect found his opportunities limited at the Kingfield Stadium last term and has been signed to challenge Dan Thomas for the Hawks’ No1 goalkeeper jersey.