New Lewes boss Russell wants to build foundations for success
Tony Russell admitted Lewes are a long way from being promotion candidates - but resolved to put the Rooks in a strong position for the 2021-22 Isthmian Premier Division campaign.
Russell and former Lewes favourite Joe Vines were unveiled as the new manager and assistant manager at The Dripping Pan on April 25.
The pair guided the Rooks’ Premier Division rivals Cray Wanderers to the Isthmian South East title in 2018-19.
Russell began his managerial career at Erith Town, winning the Kent Senior Trophy for the first time in the club’s history, before he departed for VCD Athletic.
Russell won successive promotions at the Vickers and took the club to step three for the first time.
The Lewes boss wants to replicate his successes at The Dripping Pan, but told Rooks fans not to expect instant success.
Russell said: “The three clubs I’ve been at I’ve taken them to their highest ever position in their history and I’m hoping to do the same at Lewes.
“But the first season is the hardest season. I’ve always said that.
“With the greatest respect to the team before me, I’m trying to recruit players and they’re pointing to the fact that in the last three or four years they’ve been at the wrong end of the table.
“It is a harder sell at the moment. But you’ve got to put things in place and that’s what we’re doing now.
“We’re a long way off being ready for a promotion push, but we’re all working a ridiculous amount of hours to give ourselves the best possible chance to win as many games as we can.”
Russell will meet his new charges tomorrow for a friendly game at home to Brighton University.
The Rooks boss revealed the club has been in discussion with players - including a potential blockbuster signing.
Russell added: “I haven’t had a chance to speak to them all yet but I will be this weekend.
“We’ve also been speaking to other players and I think we’ve agreed deals for about 11 or 12 at the moment.
“There’s certainly one big one we’re going to announce next week which may surprise a few.
“When me and the chairman (Stuart Fuller) went round the players’ house to do the deal, as we walked out I caught him doing a cheeky fist pump!”