Wingate & Finchley captain: It’s been a smooth transition under new boss Keith Rowland

Wingate & Finchley’s club captain Marc Weatherstone says there has been a “smooth transition” under Keith Rowland – and he hopes the new manager’s arrival will give the Blues an immediate boost as they gear up for a run of games against play-off rivals.

Rowland, 44, who played in the Premier League for West Ham and also represented London outfits QPR and Barnet, has been given his first managerial role at the Harry Abrahams Stadium after replacing Simon Lane earlier this month.

Weatherstone admits adjustments need to be made – and Wingate have had a timely two-week break without a match – but the skipper believes Rowland has exciting plans for the club.

“To change during the season is never easy but we’ve had two weeks with the new gaffer,” Weatherstone told Ham&High Sport. “He’s a different character and style of manager than Simon but so far it’s all been good. Training sessions have been good.

“We’ve still got [first-team coach] Danny Nielsen, who’s helping the new gaffer, so it’s been quite a smooth transition to be honest.

“He [Rowland] has got big experience as a player. He’s a Northern Ireland international, he’s played professional football for many of the big clubs – and in terms of his management, he’s been an assistant manager but he’s been at a good level with Braintree and Aveley.

“He’s done wonders and he’s left them with a structure and foundation where they can push on now, and I know that’s one of the big things he wants to do at Wingate. He wants to lay a foundation where, if things go wrong, it’s there and it’s easy to build on.”

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Weatherstone went on: “I think for him [Rowland] it’s about trying to get a feel for what players he has. He knows some of the boys from his past jobs, from being in the same league. It’s a transition of us getting to know him and him getting to know us and slowly inputting what he needs into the squad.

“At the minute it seems like Simon was a bit more hands-on in terms of getting to know the boys quicker, possibly. I think this gaffer’s taking his time, he’s staying back and speaking to Danny Nielsen a lot and trying to work out the boys first.

“He’s still very involved and in terms of training this gaffer’s probably more hands-on than Simon, but in terms of speaking to the boys, he’s finding his feet within the team.”

The battle for places will only intensify as Wingate’s players attempt to impress the new manager, and Weatherstone feels that can only be a good thing.

“Everyone’s playing for their shirt now,” he said. “The gaffer’s come in and he doesn’t know how we play, who’s playing and who’s not.

“He’s working it out so we’ve all got something to prove, no-one’s safe, and that might give us an extra five per cent on our performance, for sure.

“But we’ve got a good team here, we have our own mindset. We play for the shirt in every single game, no matter who the manager is, and if we’re not playing well then we expect to be dropped. But with the new gaffer you’ve got to try to make sure you get the first XI shirt and go from there, and hopefully it’s going to work out.”

Wingate were only four points off the top of the league at Christmas but they lost three games in a row and then drew 1-1 with basement boys Lewes at home in their last outing.

They have consequently slipped to 10th place, 12 points behind the leaders and five points outside the play-offs, so their next three league games could be key.

The Blues host sixth-placed Bognor Regis Town on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and then visit Grays Athletic and Kingstonian, who lie immediately on either side of them in the current standings.

“Nothing’s changed [in our ambitions], we’ve still got the same squad,” said Weatherstone. “In our minds we want to hit the play-offs and we’re good enough to do that.

“Every team goes through a blip and that’s what we’re going through, whoever the manager is. My understanding, and I believe this goes throughout the squad, is that formations don’t mean much. If you work hard and you’ve got the ambition and your mentality stays right, you will push on, and nothing’s changed in our heads.

“Every team will go through what we’re going through. It’s nothing, we’re going to come through it and hopefully hit the play-offs. We’re only a few points away.

“They’re massive games coming up, we’ve got to beat teams that are in and around us. But it’s like I said at the start of the season, the teams who expected to do well are maybe not and we just drew with Lewes, who are bottom of the league. For us, we’ve been in a blip and that’s a point gained. There are no easy games in the league.”