Experienced Watson is Strachan’s number two

Andy Watson takes training at the New Manor Ground.
Andy Watson takes training at the New Manor Ground.

Experienced coach Andy Watson joined the Ilkeston FC ranks this week as the Robins continue their preparations for the new season.

Watson, 55, will be assistant to head coach Gavin Strachan and will also operate as technical director, having most recently been at Notts County.

He was assistant manager to Alex McLeish at Motherwell, Hibs, Glasgow Rangers, Birmingham City and with Scotland, helping oversee Birmingham’s Carling Cup success at Wembley over Arsenal in 2011 and Scotland’s shock 1-0 win in France four years earlier.

Strachan said: “Andy is someone I’ve been in contact with a lot over the years and is really tuned in to what we’ll be doing here at Ilkeston. Like me, he likes to spend a lot of time on the training pitch.

“He’s someone with huge experience in the game and I knew that if I had the chance to work with him I’d jump at it, so I’m delighted to have him on board in a full-time capacity.

Watson added: “Gavin rang me and explained what was happening here at Ilkeston and would I be interested in joining him as his assistant.

”It sounded like a great opportunity and I wanted to be part of it.”

As a player, Watson appeared for Scotland U21s and was part of Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen side that beat Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Strachan says he still hopes to add further to his coaching staff, while physio Lydia Smith began work at the New Manor Ground this week.

“I’m hoping to have a goalkeeping coach in place soon and we’re also aiming to recruit a sports scientist who will work with both the academy and first team,” he added.

On the playing front, Strachan had a good look at several players in a training session this week before the rest of the squad return ahead of the first friendly with Peterborough United on July 11th.

Strachan said: “We had a few academy youngsters and also Joe Doyle come in this week, plus 14 trialists came down for us to have a look at them and quite a few impressed enough for us to want to see them in the pre-season games.

“I hope to have a goalkeeper signed this week and possibly a left-sided player too, and we’re also keen to get a striker on board as well.

“We’re not far away now from being able to look at players in match situations but getting them onto the training pitch was important to get an initial look at who we can put into the pre-season games.”

Meanwhile, Strachan says it was a great experience to meet the Ilkeston fans for the first time at a Q&A session hosted by the club last Friday night.

Around 100 fans packed into the venue to hear what the new head coach had to say, with chief executive Nigel Harrop also on hand to answer questions.

Subjects included Strachan’s favoured styles of play, his own playing career and his plans on building a successful team, as well as questions to Harrop regarding the new ticket pricing structure.

Strachan said: “These kind of events are really important and it was good that the fans could hear first hand what I had to say.

“Plenty of good topics came up and it was also good to chat to a few fans personally during the evening, so it was overall a very positive occasion.”

The first fixtures of the season will be known on Friday (3rd) when the draws for the early rounds of the FA Cup and FA Trophy are made.

The Evo-Stik League fixtures are announced on July 17th.