When a club legend returns to his former stomping ground, expectations are always going to be high and that was certainly the case for Andy Legg as he returned to Stebonheath Park to take charge of an ambitious rebuild at Llanelli Town.
With 11 games played, the Reds sit seventh with four wins, four draws and three losses, so there is room for improvement, but there have been plenty of signs of encouragement as well for Legg’s men and the manager discussed his side’s start to the season.
“When I arrived I knew the club had to be revamped from top to bottom, with players having to be moved out and others having to come in, but what is encouraging is that we’re getting there slowly although I don’t think we’re getting the results that we deserve.
“Our season is going to be all about progress, we do need a little bit more time to get things right, because we’re not quite hitting the mark yet. It is a little bit frustrating, but hopefully the time will come in January for us to get one or two more in and make a push up the table.
“Consistency is certainly an issue, and individual mistakes are costing us dearly. We’re not defending properly and if we were then we’d be at least six points better off than we are now, I think, giving last-minute goals away or making silly errors, but the resilience of the team is growing and they’re starting to show their character, so it is frustrating but we’re moving in the right direction.”
“I want nothing more than for this team to be back where it belongs.”
Having helped pen many exciting chapters in the club’s history books during his previous associations with the Carmarthenshire outfit, it is understandable that supporters will have been excited to see Legg return to the Stebonheath dugout.
The manager addressed those expectations, how he handles them and the aims and expectations he has set for his latest stint with the club, as well as the importance of getting the team back to competing at JD Cymru Premier level.
“I had a great time at Llanelli the first time here, with five years in Europe, winning the JD Welsh Cup and so on, so I know the expectations of me being here are going to be high, but I will get it right and I’ve promised the club that.
“It will take time, I never expected it to be this year, but we’re still in and around it so you never know what we could achieve this year if we put a good run of form together, but I’m expecting the real push next year and that’s when the pressure will come because I’ll have the team I want there then.
“I want promotion this year though, so I still feel that pressure I put on myself. I can’t stand losing and nothing ruins my weekend more than that so that is our aim and I want nothing more than for this team to be back where it belongs, which is in the JD Cymru Premier.”
“I do think a little push is coming.”
In what has been an intensely unpredictable season, Llanelli are 15 points off the pace that has been set by Llantwit Major at this stage, but such is the nature of the league and its competitiveness, a run of positive results by a team can drastically change their fortunes.
The former Cardiff City star detailed when he expects his side might be able to make a run up the table this term, and what is the minimum that he expects from his players in the meantime.
“We’re getting there every week, we’re seeing the work ethic coming through in the players, and yes we can have bad games but as long as you run about and give 100% effort in every game, that’s the one thing I want from my players, that they’ve done their best – I don’t mind that, I can take that, but can’t stand players not trying.
“I wasn’t the most graceful or skilful player, but I did everything to work my little legs off and come off the pitch holding my hands up and knowing I’ve done everything I can to help the team, whether I had a good game or not, and that’s what I want from my players first and foremost at the moment.
“We’re 15 points behind but there’s only been one game I really think we deserved to lose this year was against Pontypridd because we were awful, but otherwise we’ve been in every game. You never know what could happen and I do think a little push is coming, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
“He was unbelievable. At 16 he tore them apart.”
One of the brightest sparks for the Reds this season has certainly been the emergence of their exciting academy talent – none more so than Josh Esen, who went from making his senior debut for the club to signing for English Premier League giants Wolverhampton Wanderers in a matter of weeks.
Legg discussed overseeing the teenage talent’s emergence, a barnstorming performance against Carmarthen Town that really caught the eye, and his expectations for Esen’s potential in the future.
“Of course we’d have loved to have kept him, he was something very special. He trained with us for three weeks before we stuck him on the bench for a home game and I was set on giving him an opportunity in that game but had to take three defenders off and put three defenders on, so he didn’t get a chance, which frustrated.
“The next game we played Pontypridd and were losing 4-0 before I put him on for the last 20 minutes, telling him to just go and enjoy it, then I spoke to our players and staff and told them I thought this kid could be special, then I decided to start him against Carmarthen up front on his own.
“Watching him perform in that game, he was unbelievable, at 16 he tore them apart and to have that coming from our academy is so special. We’d have loved to have kept him, he was exciting and one of ours and we’d have loved to have him, but I’ll say it now that I think he’ll be playing for his country in three or four years, because he is a very special talent.”
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