Scunthorpe-United.co.uk caught up with Iron Chairman Peter Swann on the eve of the new season, and he spoke openly on a number of talking points from recent weeks.
After what’s seemed like a long summer, you must be looking forward to Saturday and the first game of the season.
PS: Frustratingly I’m not there, I’m playing in a Prostate Cancer golf event up in Scotland. The final week of the build-up is one I usually hate, because you just want the season to start and to do your best. We’re all excited about it, I’m just looking forward to getting the first game out of the way, and doing all we can to get our first three points on the board.
Surprisingly to most fans there has been a bit of negativity about the summer recruitment on social media, how would you respond to that?
PS: Obviously this is the opinion of certain people who decide they want to criticise on social media, but I think the business we’ve done has been solid and very professional. I think every signing we’ve brought in has improved us on last year. We’ve brought in a very experienced goalkeeper, who I’m sure will be excellent for us. We now sit with four centre-halves, whereas we only had two fit for much of last year. I also think the calibre of the centre-halves that we’ve brought in has improved. We’ve also invested in the future, which is very important for us. By bringing in Funso Ojo, who played 28 games in the top Dutch league last season, we have brought in a very good technical player who can play with both feet and who is very well balanced, alongside Neal Bishop and Sam Mantom. Bringing in Devonte Redmond from Manchester United is a very good deal for us and I think he will show us his worth as the season goes on. Man Utd have very high hopes for the boy. I’m pleased with the players we’ve brought in at the moment. We’ve also got a large number of the lads who got us into third position last year. We’ve done as well as we can. We’ve not been short of anything, our budget is on a par with last year, which was a top six budget and for a club like Scunthorpe it’s good that we’re still competing and investing in the team. I’m a bit disappointed with some of the negative posters out there, but let’s see how it goes. If it doesn’t work, we’ll take the blame like everyone else will, but I’m very confident that this side will go out there and get the results that we need.
Have you been encouraged by what you’ve seen from the new players during the pre-season games?
PS: I thought we played really well against Sunderland. That showed the level we can play at. Some of the movement was superb and we matched a very good side, and were unfortunate not to score. At Luton, I think everyone was looking after themselves and preparing themselves for the first match of the season. Generally, I believe we have a team that will challenge at the top of this division. To say otherwise at this moment in time is just far too negative. You have to be positive at the start of the season, if you’re not positive at the start then what is the point in following your team? If you’re just prepared to slag everybody off before it’s even started you’re not a fan. If you have your opinion when we’re performing badly then fair enough. However, I have a lot of faith in this side and we’ve still not finished recruiting. We’re hopefully going to bring a couple more players in but we have to wait because these are probably loan players, and the parent clubs won’t let their players out until the season has started.
What are your thoughts on Rory McArdle being handed the captaincy?
PS: Graham has seen enough in Rory to lead us. He’s a great choice and will lead us with a lot of pride. There were a number of candidates, as I think there are four or five who could deputise for him. That’s something we were lacking last year I think - we had one or two who led us. It will be beneficial to have more strength and opinion in that regard this season.
There has been speculation from fans during the summer that the playing budget has been reduced. What is the situation with that?
PS: It’s definitely not been reduced. In fact, I think we’re up slightly on it. We have a top six budget like we had last year. We’re not going to miss out on players because of finance, it’s ultimately the players’ choices. I know people will talk about Matt Crooks going to Northampton but at the end there has to be a finite line to which you value a player. We just couldn’t go that extra yard because we want our money for other players. It would have been perhaps having one player instead of two or three. We need a slightly bigger, stronger squad to get us through until January. The manager was happy with what we put on the table. Rangers wanted quite a large fee for him, and we couldn’t really pay that and the wages on top. We had to go in at a certain level. It wasn’t far off; we did our best and we came up short. We can’t get everybody. We will compete this year and we will be up there. I’m looking forward to the start of the season. All I ask of the fans is give the players a chance, us a chance and hopefully we will get off to a flying start as we did last year.
This week has seen confirmed transfer target Ivan Toney sign on loan for Wigan. Can you explain that situation from the club’s perspective?
PS: We wanted Ivan back and there was no secret about that. We were willing to pay exactly the same as Wigan, exactly the same terms but I think Ivan just wanted a new challenge. We were there and the choice was between us and Wigan, but he decided to go to Wigan. He’s not our player, so we wish him all the best and we move on. It would have been great to have him here but I believe we have a strike force here that can still score goals anyway.
How many more players are you looking to bring in this transfer window?
PS: We’ve got a couple of targets we’d like to bring in, a minimum of two and we would like that to happen in the next week or so. Hopefully that will happen, we’re certainly down the line on a couple of those. In the meantime, we’ve got a team of very hungry players ready to play in that first game. We’ve scored a lot of goals in pre-season and I think there’s a lot to look forward to as a Scunthorpe United supporter.
Finally, what is your message to the supporters ahead of the new season?
PS: We’re pleased with where we are. We finished third last year and were disappointed to miss out in the play-offs but we’ve kept improving every year and we’ve given ourselves every chance to compete at the highest level we can. We’ll give it everything we have - myself, the manager, his staff, all the players and everyone associated with the club will give it all they’ve got to try and get promoted this season. That is our aim, and I believe we have the team to do. We have very difficult games coming up, which will be a real test for us, but I’m hoping we can play some great football and entertain the fans, as well as be at the right end of the table. Get behind the team and enjoy the weekend.