Online Editions

21st May, 2022

Sooty: I want my knowhow to push Town to new highs

Rob George 22nd Jan, 2022

MALVERN Town have appointed Stephen Cleal as assistant manager after Phil Preedy stepped down due to other commitments.

The experienced Cleal started the current campaign as manager of Cinderford Town in the Southern League Division One South, having previously spent six years at the helm of Bishop’s Cleeve.

“It’s great to have ‘Sooty’ come on board,” said Hillsiders manager Lee Hooper. “It’s a real statement and he will be a great addition to the club.

“After speaking with him over the last couple of weeks, it’s obvious that we will work well together.

“His philosophy and morals in football are similar to mine; he has a lot of experience and respect at this level and also at Step 4.”

Cleal added: “Having been a manager for over 14 years, I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I wanted to get back into football.

“Having met up with Hoops and discussed the plans and vision of the club, and also having seen Malvern play a few times, it just felt a good opportunity to return to football plus I’m sure my wife and kids wanted me out from under their feet again as it was probably as strange for them as it was me to not be involved.

“I’d like to think that having managed 400-plus league and cup games at senior level with the majority of those at Step 4, I have a lot of knowledge and experience to bring to the football club. I feel that I will add value in providing a different perspective on things, both in games and training, to allow the players to continue to be successful and to help them grow and develop both individually and collectively.

“The challenge ahead is both internal and external – there are some very good sides at this level and Malvern are one of them, but to go to the next level we need to push ourselves and each other to add to what is a fantastic base.

“The Hellenic League Premier Division is a tough league and full of great sides; everyone can take points off each other. It’s a real challenge and that’s what makes it an exciting league to be involved in.

“You only have to look at the fact that just 10 points separate second from 10th to see how challenging it is but also how exciting it is.

“We have scored the most goals in the league this season, averaging almost three goals a game, and usually scoring goals can be the problem but to have conceded 43 (just under two a game) is not where we want to be, so we know what we have to achieve and that isn’t as a back four or five, that’s as a group of 20.

“Individually I haven’t set myself any targets but having managed some of these players here before and know about some of the other players’ qualities, we definitely have to look to finish the season strong and see where it takes us.”

On the field the Hillsiders visit Royal Wooton Bassett Town on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

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