New Sunbury United coach Lino Grech is prepared for some challenges ahead as he looks to turn the outward tide at the club.
It has been a tough three years for United – they firstly narrowly avoided relegation from state league 1, and then suffered two straight relegations.
Next season, United will play in state league 3 north-west, a long way from the state league 1 status it once enjoyed.
For Grech, it’s a return to a club he has long remembered fondly.
“I used to play for Sunbury when they were in first division, and they’ve always been in my heart,” he said.
“I had been in the NPL [National Premier League], coaching under-18s and under-20s.
“Sunbury has given me a chance to coach seniors,” he said. “It’s what I’ve wanted to do.”
Grech knows it won’t be an easy road and he doesn’t expect instant miracles. He said building a winning culture was important going forward, and the club needs to be more professional on and off field, and mirror what NPL clubs do.
“I’m not worried about going straight back up – it would be good though,” he said. “It’s about looking at the club for three, four and five years.
“We want a good season back in division 3, and the main aim is to survive. Hopefully, we’ll get better year by year.
“It’s about getting people wanting to play for Sunbury, instead of chasing them.”
It will be a new-look United line-up next season, with Grech bringing some players across with him. He said it was about setting up the playing group for the long term,, rather than looking for a band-aid solution.
“My intentions are to bring in a lot of young kids with me, some 18, 19-year-olds … players who I’ve coached since they were 13-years-old and have done a good job,” he said.
“They are on the edge of playing senior football in the NPL, but not quite ready …
Another key for United is ensuring a pathway from juniors to seniors, Grech said.
“I’ll have a look at the 15 and 16-year-olds and, if they’re good enough and I think they can play seniors, they’ll be promoted.”
United’s senior and junior clubs have amalgamated.