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An off-season win for Reds - December 28 2012
An off-season win for Reds
December 28 2012
Shepparton has produced one of the biggest coups of the off-season, after signing Cobram Victory premiership star Matt Gray as playing-coach.
Gray spent two seasons with the Victory and was part of the side that won the inaugural Regional Premier League trophy last season.
He parted on good terms and said he was looking forward to putting his own ideas into practice with the club he helped defeat in last season’s grand final.
‘‘I’ve got to that age now, where I want it to be my influence and my input,’’ Gray said.
‘‘(Craig) was as good as gold to be fair; he texted me and the first thing he said was ‘congratulations’, then he said ‘leave my players alone’, which is not a problem.
‘‘He and I are good friends and his players are his players and I prefer it that way, then I can build my own team.’’
Gray will play as well as coach, but he remains unsure whether he will be registered as an international player and take up one of the six spots allocated to each club next season.
However, the new coach said he had no intention of reaching the cap limit regardless.
One player definitely joining the list is Gray’s former teammate, Adam Thompson, from England.
A centre-back, Thompson will add experience and leadership to the Reds’ defence — an area Gray is aiming to improve.
‘‘(In Australia) the defending is shambolic, last year (the Victory) won it and we probably kept two clean sheets all season, which I think in any level of football if you don’t concede goals you win games,’’ he said.
As for the formation, Gray said it was dependent on the personnel at his disposal, but there would be a focus on more than one system to allow for tactical flexibility.
Another player on Gray’s radar, is last year’s leading scorer and league best-and-fairest Daniel Heffernan.
The classy striker has already received offers from clubs in Melbourne, but Gray is hoping to entice his star man to remain at the Reds.
One thing is for sure, Gray will have to improve on his current record at Mercury Dve.
In three appearances there as a player with Cobram Victory, he has lost twice and drawn once.
‘‘I will have to improve that, I’ll be sacked otherwise,’’ he said with a laugh.
Gray’s appointment is not the Reds’ first this off-season.
Paul Fleming and Joe Rossignuolo will coach the under-11s, Pat Kielty the under-13s, George Razmozski under-15s and Shaban Mehmet the under-17s, while Uwe Paffrath will remain in charge of the open women’s side.