New pitch a benefit but personnel will dictate St Ives' style says Marheineke

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke says his 2021-2022 squad will dictate whether a change in style is necessary. - Credit: DUNCAN LAMONT

A new artificial pitch at Westwood Road will be a huge help to St Ives Town but manager Ricky Marheineke was keen to keep the rising optimism of just how good it could be to a minimum.

Pre-season saw Ives play more of a possession-based style than in previous seasons but that is down to personnel rather than the new surface according to the boss.

"You can get caught up with styles of play," said Marheineke. "You have to do what you think is right with the group of players you have got. 

"Being in possession for a little bit longer will help us when we are having to work incredibly hard to get it back. 

"The most important thing is the amount of turnovers. We’re not giving it back to the opposition as often as we have in the past and it might look like we’re keeping it on the floor and passing it but it boils down to the players having a better understanding." 

He is also confident that the squad will not need a long time to get used to the pitch, with similar artificial surfaces in operation already throughout the Southern League Premier Division Central.

The Ives boss said: "If you go back four or five years, it was unusual to play on a 3G surface. It’s not unusual now. 

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"There’s five or six in the league that have them, we train on it every week so the surface is too much of an issue in terms of adapting from grass to artificial. 

"The hardest thing is people see we’ve gone from a bobbly pitch where we had to go back to front quickly and quite direct, it is now expected that players will want to play possession-based football and it is about trying to find a fine balance and do the right things at the right times in the right areas." 

And he is delighted with how pre-season has gone as a whole as they prepare for the opening fixture at home to Alvechurch on Saturday.

"I’m really happy," said Marheineke. "We’ve played some lower-level sides where we have spent lots of time in possession, and we’ve played Hemel who are the step higher and you spend a little bit longer out of possession and working on your defensive side. 

"We’ve had a bit of everything. We need to improve in both boxes but if we can do that, I am confident of winning games."