07:02PM, Friday 26 November 2021
Maidenhead chairman Peter Griffin admits things are looking rough for the Magpies at present, but if you scratch beneath the surface, he believes there's plenty to be positive about in the medium to long term.
Yes, the Magpies find themselves down in the lower reaches of the National League and head into their next game – likely to be at Barnet on Saturday, December 4 – having conceded 15 goals in just three heavy defeats.
But, while he says there’s never a good year to be fighting against relegation, and still believes the Magpies can turn things around for a mid-table or top half finish, he accepts they're probably only scrapping to avoid two places.
“There's never a good year to be down near the bottom,” he said. “And one of the things that gave us such a good start last season was having a fully settled squad that was fit game after game.
“We're looking back at that now when we have five or six out every week and it's a real struggle. We have a good squad, but it’s been worn down by injury and it’s a struggle, but we can't rely on other teams playing poorly.
“The Dover situation means they’re not making inroads into that (their points penalty) particularly quickly so, as you say, there probably is only two places to be avoided rather than the usual four.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away and if we get on a roll, we’ll be looking at mid-table or above, there’s still no doubt in my mind that we’ll be competitive.
“It’s just been a tough start to the season, but we’ve had a couple of bursts to show what we can do, now we’ve just got to do it a bit more consistently.”
Another silver lining for the Magpies is the continued emergence of a crop of exciting young players, such as Reece Smith and Josh Kelly, who’s showing his true form again following a campaign crippled by injury. The club prides itself on bringing players through from its academy and providing a possible steppingstone into league football. They have sell-on clauses for several league players, the most notable of which is Max Kilman, who has played every game for Wolves in the Premier League this season.
“We’re always happy for players to progress,” said Griffin. “We try to get players on the up.
“If they do well with us, they probably will move on and we're in a stronger position in that sense than we have been in previous years.
“Whilst times are tough now, with the injuries and having nowhere near a full squad on any match day this season so far.
“If we can weather the storm and get through this, we’ve got a real core of young, exciting talent that’s tied to the club even longer.
“If they move on, they’ll go with our blessing and the club will get some reward back for that.
“Max Kilman is a good example of that. He's played every minute of every Premier League game. We have a sell on clause in the deal, but I can't say what that is. If he gets sold on, we get a share of that.
“For us, with players moving on, sometimes you don’t get a huge fee, but we usually get a sell on clause, so we have a few out there still. It just depends.
“The development of players at Maidenhead United is one of the key attractions for players.”