A great start but Hastings United boss knows there's still 'a long way to go'
Despite winning all four games in the dugout so far, Agutter remains focused on performances and says there’s a ‘long way to go before we get to the level I want’.
Hastings were due to face Carshalton Athletic in Isthmian league Premier division action on Tuesday however the game was postponed after a pitch inspection. Agutter said: “It’s probably most frustrating for the players, it’s the third postponement we’ve had in sort of a two or three-week period. So it gives us an opportunity to work on the training pitch with the players and try and get us moving in the right direction.”
Games come thick and fast at this level and despite the postponement, Hastings only have to wait until Saturday as they travel to second place Enfield Town for their next league game. Enfield also had their midweek fixture called off and with both teams in the play-off places, Agutter knows it will be an exciting challenge. “It will be a really stern test, arguably the toughest test we’ve had so far during the month we’ve been working together,” he said. We’ve had them watched a few times, they’re a big and powerful side but not just that they’ve got some real decent quality throughout the team.
“In forward areas they put you under pressure, put the ball into your box they’re very aggressive but they’ve got really good footballers that can pose you loads of different types of problems.”
Victories over Margate, Hashtag United, Crawley Down Gatwick and Kingstonian has seen Agutter retain a flawless winning record as he looks to make it five wins from five since being named manager. Hastings remain in the Sussex Senior Cup, Alan Turvey Trophy and are fifth place in the league following the new manager’s appointment. When asked about how it’s been so far and his hopes for the season Agutter said:
“It’s been a decent start, four wins out of four looks great but we’ve got a long way to go to get us to the level I want us to be and I think we can do that. In terms of how we’re playing with the ball we’re still a million miles away from where I would like us to be and where we need to be for us to be competitive week in week out.
“But the group have shown a real grit edge, resilience, guts to grind out four positive results and it’s been a good advert for the group in terms of working hard and fighting in both boxes.”
Hastings recently announced the return of Jack Bates signing on loan from league one side Derby County. Bates left Hastings to join the Rams last summer and has now returned to the East Sussex side for the 23/24 season.
Last season Bates made eighteen appearances in Premier League two, also appearing in the Premier league cup and Derbyshire Senior Cup. He previously played under Agutter at Hastings and the manager was delighted to have him back saying: “Obviously a great player, he was at the club previously as a younger player and he’s coming back now as more established, more mature and is coming into the group as a senior player and will ultimately have a lot more responsibility than he did.”
“It’s exciting he’s a very good footballer, he’s very different to what we’ve got Jack’s very good in tight areas he’s more of a creator.
“The big thing is he’s a good character, a good lad obviously being at Hastings before he understands what the expectations are and he knows how I work so in terms of the bigger project he’s only going to help with that.”
Agutter was probed about other signings but was adamant he’s happy with the squad and only wants to make signings who contribute to the long-term future of the club.
“There’s always stuff bubbling along, but the groups a decent group, there’s plenty of good players in there so it doesn’t need any hard and fast recruitment or players leaving.
“The fact we’ve got a good group has meant that anyone we’ve brought in we can be deliberate with it and anyone we’ve brought in it’s with a view to the longer term, the bigger picture.”
In injury news Agutter joked that the team might not be training hard enough as it’s a completely clean bill of health heading into the Enfield game.
Finally, Agutter discussed striker Davide Rodari and his fine form this season. Rodari is Hastings top goal scorer so far, netting nine times in the league so far this season.
“Yeah, he’s excellent, it’s amazing because I’m really the only manager who’s played him consistently through the middle and he’s always scored goals for me, his return is excellent.
“He’s one of them if you play him through the centre of the pitch and you get him between the posts, he’s a brilliant finisher.
“He’s a proper good lad, a role model for the younger players at the club he’s so disciplined very professional and we’re lucky you have him on and off the pitch.”