Hardy seeks ‘evolution not revolution’ at Ilkeston Town

Alan Hardy
Alan Hardy

Ilkeston Town owner Alan Hardy says he is keen for there not to be widespread changes made at the New Manor Ground as he seeks to replace outgoing manager Steve Chettle.

It was announced last week that Chettle would be joining Notts County, where Hardy is also owner and chairman, as first team coach and therefore relinquishing his role with the Robins.

And with Hardy due to interview candidates this week with a view to appointing Chettle’s replacement in the near future, he says he will be laying down guidelines to which he wants the new man to operate.

He said: “I’m very keen for there to be evolution not revolution.

“I’ll be telling candidates that I want the key staff to remain in place and also that the playing squad must be kept together given how well things have gone so far.

“There will of course be scope to bring in one or two players if necessary, but it’s imperative that there aren’t widespread changes that could upset the dynamic and morale of the squad and also of course the form the team is in.

“It’s also important to maintain the professional standards that Steve has introduced and the appointment will reflect that.”

Hardy says it was somewhat bittersweet to make the decision to move Chettle from one of his clubs to the other, but is firmly of the opinion it was the right one.

He said: “It was a tricky one given how well he’s done with Ilkeston but he’s been doing some fantastic work with the first team at Notts County, having initially worked with the under-23s, and he gives us something that (manager) Kevin Nolan sees as being so important in terms of both his experience and the great calmness about him.

“He had a great playing career in the city and it’s clear why Kevin is so keen to have him on board.”

Hardy says Chettle’s replacement will face the same expectations that have always been in place, namely to get the Robins promoted back into the Evo-Stik League as soon as possible.

He said: “It’s crucial to our business model that it happens, albeit we are a year ahead of schedule in a sense so it needs to be by the end of next season ideally.

“That will mean we can then use Ilkeston as a good grounding for some of the Notts players to get games which we can’t do at the moment.

“The decision to bring Steve Chettle to Notts County isn’t ideal in a timing sense, granted, and there is a degree of risk involved in it, but we are intent on making it work for both clubs and for Steve himself.”

Hardy acknowledged that current Robins assistant manager Ian Deakin is a popular choice amongst players and supporters to replace Chettle, but added that he’s keen to see what other candidates can offer.

He said: “The players are making a case for Ian to take it on but we’ll see what the other candidates have compared to what’s there already.

“Ian doesn’t have too much managerial experience so we’ll have to see whether it’s the right time for him at this stage, but he has an important part to play both on and off the pitch whoever is in charge.

“I’m keen to have a new man in place by early to mid-September at the latest if possible.”