NEW Stanway Rovers manager Kem Izzet wants to change people’s perception of his side by putting a heavy emphasis on youth development.
The Colchester United legend believes there are those in the non-league football community who view the club as “arrogant”.
However, he is determined to shift that mindset by putting his faith in youngsters and giving them a platform to succeed - rather than being part of an outfit with a perceived inflated budget.
“It’s something I’m very passionate about, having spent the last two or three years working with young players at Needham Market,” said 36-year-old Izzet.
“It gives me such joy to watch them coming through, improving and expressing themselves.
“It’s so rewarding and that’s the philosophy I want to implement at Stanway.
“I want to make the club as professional as possible and I’d like the squad to be relatively young, with the average age between 18 and 24.
“If you’ve got players who are hungry, willing to work hard and are organised within a unit you can achieve so much in football.
“I know it’s a completely different level but look at Tottenham, in the Premier League.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are some supremely talented lads in their squad but they’re also players who are youthful, energetic and willing to work hard.
“If we can create that attitude within our club, it will be a recipe for success and we want to make it a really positive environment.
“Hopefully by doing that we can also change the outside perception of Stanway Rovers.
“I think the football community thinks of the club as being a bit arrogant, but we have to change that opinion by working hard, bringing players through and proving that’s more important than having a perceived big budget.”
Izzet admits his appointment came as something of a surprise.
He had already said publicly that was keen to get into management, having just parted company with Needham.
But he initially believed he was joining Stanway to play under former U’s team-mate Karl Duguid.
Duguid had managed the team since Christmas but now, in a change of the management structure, he will become Izzet’s assistant.
“It came a bit out of the blue, to be honest,” said Izzet, who played for Colchester between 2001 and 2013, where he made over 400 League appearances, twice being named Young Player of the Year and being inducted into Colchester’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
“Dugy had already spoken to me about coming over and the plan was that I’d play and also manage the club’s under-18s.
“Then he said he’d rather not be manager next season, because he wanted to concentrate on coaching.
“I spoke to the chairman and still wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen.
“I didn’t know whether I’d want to play for someone other than Dugy.
“We got chatting and although it wasn’t my intention to put myself in the frame, I think I must have impressed him because by the end of the conversation it was agreed I’d take over!
“My big thing is bringing young players through, which in turn will lower the playing budget.
“As I say, I want players here who want to listen, learn and improve and aren’t playing for money.
“If they do that, and come to training every week, they’ll have a platform to play first-team football.
“It’s a long-term plan, as far as I’m concerned, and I really want to change the club’s whole philosophy in that respect.
“Dugy and I think we’ll be very, very competitive next season but it was important to me that the chairman understood the changes we want to make.
“I didn’t want to have the pressure of having to win the title hanging over me and the fact he was so understanding and supportive was the key factor that persuaded me to take the job on.”
Jon Willis, who had been Duguid’s right-hand man, will now be Stanway’s under-21s manager, assisted by Conor McLaughlin.
Experienced former Needham physiotherapist Stuart Bevis is also joining while Izzet is also hoping to appoint a goalkeeping coach.