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AFC Sudbury boss Marc Abbott confident positive times lie ahead after a summer of upheaval





While there has been plenty of noise from the outside, new AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott is quietly going about his business.

Many an eyebrow has been raised at the recent events at the MEL Group Stadium, where 16 of last season’s promotion-winning squad have opted to join former boss Rick Andrews in departing the club.

The exits came on the back of confirmation from CEO Patrick Bell that the first team will be operating with a smaller budget next term, despite playing at a higher level.

Marc Abbott believes that a positive season lies ahead of AFC Sudbury, despite the recent wholesale changes and budget cut. Picture: AFC Sudbury/Steve Screech
Marc Abbott believes that a positive season lies ahead of AFC Sudbury, despite the recent wholesale changes and budget cut. Picture: AFC Sudbury/Steve Screech

For many it would not be an ideal scenario to inherit, yet Abbott is excited about the future.

And while he understands the concern of supporters that have seen many star names move on, the new man at the helm is confident that more positive memories can be made during the season ahead.

“The supporters had an unbelievable season last year. Rick, his coaching staff and the players did an amazing job. They gave the fans memories that they’ll never forget,” he said. “We knew that there would be players leaving with the budget cut and it’s down to us to find the players that are hungry to play for the club, but not only that, they need to be good enough and not driven by finances.

“We feel like we’re doing that and we believe it’s going to be a good season. Yes, it will be a different season, but it’s still one we think can excite the supporters.

“There is a big change in dynamic and sometimes change is tough, but we’ll be working hard to make sure we’ve got a competitive team.

“The supporters can really play a role in helping us. We’re going to need their backing because it’s a relentless league with some very good teams.”

For Abbott, the Sudbury job represents a second crack at managing a Step 3 club following a stint in charge of St Neots Town.

It was a tough position for a variety of reasons and Abbott was unable to steer The Saints to safety before eventually departing almost a year into the role. However, Cambridge United’s elite schloarship manager is confident that he has learned a lot from that experience.

He added: “It’s a step up with some good managers and good coaches that are capable of adapting in games.

“I was very grateful for the opportunity St Neots gave me but now I feel like I’m much more equipped for it. I learned a huge amount during that time and I feel like I’m a much more rounded coach and manager for that experience.

“I’m also learning all of the time in my day job, working alongside people like Pete Gill (Cambridge’s senior professional development phase lead coach).

“I’m looking forward to putting it all into practice at Sudbury. I can’t wait to get going with the players.”

Abbott’s men will begin their pre-season friendlies on July 8 at home versus Hashtag United, which is followed by games against Aldershot Town (July 11 H), Braintree Town (July 15 A), Dereham Town (July 18 H) and Felixstowe & Walton United (July 29 A).

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Following a raft of well-documented departures, the incomings have started to arrive at AFC Sudbury.

First through the door was goalkeeper James Bradbrook, who has joined the Yellows from Suffolk neighbours Stowmarket Town.

And he has been joined by two former Cambridge United academy players in Tom Dickens, Joe Neal and Joe Tarpey.

Centre-back Dickens is well known to new boss Abbott from their time together at St Neots Town, while striker Neal has most recently been plying his trade in the Vanarama National League South with St Albans City.

And in a further boost, fit-again striker Romario Dunne and Jake Turner, who scored the winning goal in last season’s Step 4 play-offs, have both been retained. The latter is set to skipper Sudbury next term.

Abbott, who is also expected to unveil another new addition tomorrow, said: “We’ve got to be careful with recruitement. We want players that are not financially driven, but they also have to be good enough to play at the level.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the standard of player that is showing an interest in playing for the club.

“We’ve managed to get some really good players in the building.

“They’re the right players for what we’re looking to do at the club, both in terms of their personality and their ability.

“We’ll continue to work hard with the recruitment to make sure we’re bringing in the best players for the team and the club.”