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Bonner keen to meet players
Bonner keen to meet players

Gillingham players report for the start of pre-season training on Monday at the start of a new era for the Club with manager Mark Bonner keen to get started.

After his appointment last month, Mark Bonner and his new management team will finally come face-to-face with the Gills squad ahead of their first friendly next weekend against former boss Neil Harris and his Millwall side as preparations begin in earnest for Carlisle United’s visit to Kent on EFL kick off weekend in six weeks’ time. 

“Pre-season will be number one fitness; number two our structure and organisation as a team; and number three, we need to start to see what combinations work and instantly hit it off and those that need time and development.” Bonner told us. 

“Pre-season is a great time of year – hopefully we’ll get some half decent weather too so that we can enjoy it. It’s a nice time to come back and I think that everyone will be excited to be back – no more than me really.”

“The players will be looking forward to it – they’re in for a tough time and I’m looking forward to getting started.” 

“A lot of the squad was already in place before we arrived in terms of contracted already committed too – I think that we have quite nicely balanced the squad with the players we have brought in.”

“The key thing though is numbers. If you can start pre-season with good numbers and have the majority of your squad in place, it sets you up so well because you can’t get that time back.”

“You can’t get it back physically as once the season starts; you don’t get to work at that intensity so often. You get so little training time and the reality when you are in season, you are always preparing for the next game or recovering from the last one – there is so little time once the season starts to train flat out, which makes this period massive for us and starting with good numbers, is a good starting point!” 

“The key bit is making sure that we are all on the same page with the information that we want and what we give and that we behave in a manner that we want this environment to be and that we get the “buy-in” from the players really quickly, which is one of the first things that I will be looking for in the next couple of weeks  – which players are coming with us; which players want to be part of the thing that we want to build, and that will be the most exciting part for me the next couple of weeks I think!” 

“Everything depends on who does well, what the players are like physically as I haven’t met them yet. That said, we don’t need a huge squad for sure as we can’t keep everyone fit and available.”

“What you do want is cover and competition across the squad – we have good numbers, so it’s more about changing and playing around with the numbers that we have rather than bringing more and more people in.” 

“The players have been working in the last couple of weeks of their off-season programme. Things around the training ground and the stadium have been finished off, so everything is ready for them when they come back on Monday.”

“We’ve had a planning week this week so that the time everyone comes back, we’ll have things nicely organised for the players and hopefully they will see and feel the difference when they come in.” 

“Everyone is motivated in July, everybody! But what’s the stamina of your motivation which is really what matters… are you still motivated in November and February? That will be the key for me.”

“It is easy to create a good environment and have everyone positive and say all the things that you are going to do in July, but the test will be if we can maintain that in the months ahead!” 

Bonner who has been to Germany for the Euros was then asked about the level of support that he has received since taking the Gillingham job.

“I just see football going up and up in the country at the moment – everyone seems to be talking about it and be desperate for the start of the season to be a really good one,” Bonner reflected.

“There’s an optimism around the place that is good and there’s a momentum which is good, and we have to click onto that. I hope people see that there is a basis of a team that can do something – we’ve made some good signings; the mood in the Club; the ownership and everything is really positive at the moment.”

“It’s important that not only is there a lot of supporters here, we want to send them home happy and keep the numbers growing all season.” 

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.