VIDEO: Heggs is raring to go
Paddy Davitt King's Lynn boss Carl Heggs promised it's his way or the highway after he was officially unveiled at The Walks.Heggs and new assistant player/manager Andy Johnson were in bullish mood at the launch of the Unibond Premier Division club's new managerial reign.
King's Lynn boss Carl Heggs promised it's his way or the highway after he was officially unveiled at The Walks.
Heggs and new assistant player/manager Andy Johnson were in bullish mood at the launch of the Unibond Premier Division club's new managerial reign.
The 38-year-old rookie boss confirmed he had no plans to retain any of last season's senior squad - including teenage hitman Dominic Dwyer who is poised to take up a footballing scholarship in America alongside reserve prospects Kyle Nicholls and Joe Setchell.
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Ex-Redditch coach Heggs has already raided his former club for wide player Owen Storey and teenage midfielder Jordan Smith. Former Mansfield trainee goalkeeper Daniel Whatsize is another fresh teenage recruit with Heggs confident of further signings in the next few days.
“I look at the squad who was here last season and they finished three or four places below Redditch and we had a �1,000 a week budget,” said Heggs. “If any of them want to phone me up and have a chat that is fine. I've spoken to the chairman and told them he can pass on my number but they are not under contract so they've left the football club that's the full stop on that.
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“I'm speaking to four players on Saturday and we're in for a Conference North striker. He's my mate and if I get him then brilliant, but if not we'll start again. Okay, King's Lynn is now in the Unibond so how do you attract players here? I'll tell you, by making them know we are going to be successful and we are going to win games and that the best thing for them is to come and join me. Some will slip the net of course and the players I'm after don't want to drop down a league but I have to convince them and I can do.
“I'm a winner and I heard someone many years ago say surround yourself with winners and you'll be one yourself. We want young winners who will work hard and be organised. I'll be putting a code of conduct in place and anyone at this club will be expected to follow it. If they don't I'll kick them out of the club and get rid of them.”
Former Norwich midfielder Johnson agreed to join Heggs' backroom team after moving to The Walks last season.
“Coaching is an area I want to get into and I'm thankful Carl has asked me to do it,” said the Welshman. “It's the first rung on the ladder for him as a manager and me as assistant. We will try to send a team out that will be exciting and our fans will appreciate.
“They come and pay hard earned money and you know what they want - it's not someone plucking a ball out of the air and flicking it around the corner, it's sliding in for a ball or going through someone with a tackle or a header. They want to see desire and passion.”
Heggs is undaunted by the size of the task at the Unibond Premier club following their Conference demotion.
“We had no pre-season friendlies and no players. That could bog some people down and bring added pressure,” he said. “For every negative I hear I see five positives. If someone is negative around me I tell them where to go. Now I can pick who I want to play and which players. They're all going to be my players and I will try to find the best team possible and make it organised. The chairman has backed me and given me a budget capable of being successful in this league and I can't wait.
“I don't look at what has gone on behind the scenes recently. I'm purely a footballing person. I have the backing of the chairman, which I have, and those of the people around him, which I have. The politics does not interest me at all.”
The former West Brom, Swansea and Northampton striker can also handle the weight of expectation from the Linnets' fan base.
“That isn't something that will worry me,” he said. “I'm not clever enough to let that affect me. I've already said that to the chairman. I'm not bothered about expectations. I played for years and years and I've been involved in big games. If I'm at a big club here then so be it. If we get 1,500 coming to watch then that is fantastic because my young players will be inspired to play in front of those people.
“For two years at Redditch I was working on a budget of �1,000. Even though my job was assistant manager I did all the duties of a manager. Gary Whild also owned the club and he was putting in his own money. I didn't want to force him upstairs but he let me have free rein bringing in players and doing all the coaching. I just felt it was time now for a new challenge. You're giving players �50, �75 a week to work extremely hard and the club came 12th in my first year and then 14th in my second but I could see what a great opportunity there was here at King's Lynn.
“People can talk about sleeping giants but for me that is a convenient excuse. I look at King's Lynn and they have under-achieved so I see it as great challenge. Let others talk about potential - that is just an excuse I don't waste my time on that.”
Heggs insists his experience at Redditch leaves him well placed to operate on limited funds with the Linnets forced to cut their budget following Conference demotion.
“We've got so many contacts between myself and Andy that won't be a problem,” he said. “I had six loans at Redditch last season and some of then were on �350 at their clubs and they let me have then for �50 a week as a favour. I took a lad called Ryan Beswick who couldn't get in the reserves at Leicester - a 20 year old left footer - and in his first couple of games he didn't show much. I was on his case all the time telling him he had a chance and not to let it pass him by. I hassled him, phoned him, threatened him and he scored nine goals in 18 games. He's just signed a year contract at Kettering for �600 a week. If he hadn't gone to Redditch he would be nowhere.
“I'll let them know I'm doing this for them, not for me. I took five players from Redditch who were going nowhere and are now playing full time football. One has just signed a two year deal in the Championship. I tell them, 'be the best player on the pitch you can be.' They've got one career, one life, one year at being 20. Don't let it pass you by. If they take their foot off the pedal I'll be on their case. It's not me I'm doing it for or King's Lynn but for them. When they are driving a Bentley with a model on either arm they can ring me up and thank me because the rewards in football are phenomenal.”
The new Linnets' chief also gave an insight into his footballing philosophy.
“I play 4-3-3,” he said. “If one of my players gets to the byline and tries to cross but it goes out of play I won't have a pop at him. What I'll do is when everybody has gone home I'll phone him up and say, 'tell your missus you are going to be late from training,' and then I'll keep him out there and I'll show him how to put the ball in the box to put a contact on the ball to get it in the right area.
“Whatever money they are on if they are giving their all I'll accept that every day. If the same player keeps coming inside or doesn't want to push it past a defender - believe you me I'll tell him in no uncertain terms. Then you get your 25 or 26 year olds who are set in their ways. I say if you're good at heading the ball go and do it - don't try to bring it down on your chest. You're at this level for a reason. I identify their strengths and as I always say, 'it takes many chocolates to make a selection box.'”
Heggs also insisted Lynn's local core remains a key component of his masterplan despite his move for a Leicester-training base.
“It's so important to me that we won't lose the identity of King's Lynn,” he said. “When I heard about the structure that was in place here with the reserves I was delighted because it can only help the football club. If those lads show the right commitment and attitude I'll play a 15 year old, a 16 year old. The ressies are a massive part of where this football club is going. It's not the reserves as one club and first team another. We are all King's Lynn. It's not us and them.
“The same applies with training. I want to marry the best of both. To go from Leicester to King's Lynn incurs expenses and its time consuming. To get players from King's Lynn to Leicester is the same. I don't know where the idea has come about that it's a Midlands team playing for Lynn. We'll be based in Leicester for probably one training session and then come up to King's Lynn.
“Because of our contacts at Leicester City there is a full sized dome indoors we can use. I spoke to Craig Shakespeare (Leicester's academy coach) and Andy has spoken to Nigel Pearson and we can use that. If its lashing down and we can't get on the pitch we have an advantage over other sides. If we win the next game 1-0 will anyone see it as an issue? If I get them up here and all we can do is run around the football pitch, get wet through and just have a cup of tea and we draw 0-0 then people will moan.”
Heggs will implement twice weekly training sessions.
“We'll train for two hours minimum each session,” he said. “If I have to keep them on the training pitch until midnight I will. We did it at Redditch. I told them to bring a packed lunch and sleeping bag because they weren't going home until everyone knew what we were doing at set pieces. The bottom line is Andy and myself only want to send them out there on a Saturday knowing we've done everything we possibly can to win a football match.”
Linnets' chairman Ken Bobbins also confirmed at the press conference the club were in discussions with Keith Rudd and Neil Fryatt following reserve boss Steve Lilley's decision to stand down. Bobbins also revealed majority shareholder Michael Chinn is expected to formally re-join the club's board next week.