When Michael Charles returns to Shepparton Soccer Club next year it will be as the Reds' senior coach.MATTHEW GALEA December 26, 2013 4:10am
Shepparton Soccer Club won’t just be getting last season’s top-scorer back when Michael Charles returns; it will also be getting its new senior coach.
Charles, 26, was the club’s first preference to replace the departing Matt Gray, who has moved to Twin City Wanderers, and the Reds have got their man.
‘‘It’s my first senior appointment, so I’m very happy to have accepted the offer,” Charles said.
‘‘I was always in contact with everyone at the club and we were just talking and one of them asked if I would be interested in throwing my name in for the job.
‘‘I’ve always been a coach — my job in England is coaching — so it’s really just moving country to do the same thing for me.’’
Charles arrived at Shepparton midway through last season following the sudden departure of Steven Hutchings, going on to score 10 goals in eight games while playing a lead role in the Reds’ ill-fated grand final charge, where they lost 3-1 to Shepparton United in extra-time.
‘‘I’d been thinking of taking the summer out to play in Australia for a few years and I had spoke with Craig Carley and Matty (Gray) about coming over (when they were at Cobram Victory),’’ Charles said.
‘‘I think the people really sold it to me; there are some special people in that town that would do anything for you and make you feel at home, both within the club and outside it.’’
Charles said although this year did not have the best finish for the Reds, he was confident his new charges could bounce back.
‘‘With the youngsters we have and the experiences they’ve learnt from last season, the club will only be stronger,’’ Charles said.
‘‘There will be a few changes, mainly in terms of sorting our training and commitment from the players and being stricter like that.
‘‘We were without Shaun Kane as well last year, so the plan is to get him fit and firing, which would be a massive boost.’’
Charles will take up one of the four visa spots at Shepparton, which has been reduced from six last year, but the new coach believes that could be a benefit to the club as opposed to a hindrance.
‘‘We have some very good young players with the likes of ‘Hussey’ (Hussein Sumaili), Marcus (Scott) and Abdullah (Wahidi) all impressed and we’ve got a couple of others lined up to make the step up.
‘‘From what I’ve seen last year, it really is the type of club you can work with and develop youngsters within.’’
Charles was positive about retaining the majority of the squad, having already secured club captain Rob Watkins for next season, as well as 26-year-old attacking midfielder James Coutts from AFC Totton in the Southern League Premier Division.
Shepparton president Tom Radevski was delighted to make the announcement, saying Charles’ experience coaching youngsters in the UK made him a particularly attractive candidate.
‘‘That was why he was first choice, he can really help these guys coming through,’’ Radevski said.
‘‘Secondly, he already knows the boys, and he took a few training sessions last year and the boys were happy with his methods.’’
Radevski said he hoped Charles would also work with the junior sides.
Charles will not return to Shepparton until late February or early March, but Radevski said the club would play it by ear as to whether or not any serious pre-season work would begin before Charles’ return.
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