The preseason is well under way for the Premier League clubs in Gibraltar. With Lincoln and College’s European campaigns over after 1 round, all 8 clubs are now focused on the new league season which is now approximately 5 weeks away.
This season will mark the start of the new football calendar in Gibraltar. With the season starting in August, clubs have had to step up their preseason plans earlier than expected. The league requires the earlier start to be in line with similar UEFA nations and the European Qualifiers for 2016.
Other aspects of the local game that have changed during the closed season are the managers of some of the elite clubs in Gibraltar. Whilst Lincoln, Manchester 62, Lynx, Glacis Utd and St Joseph’s remaining with the same head coaches, College Europa, Lions Gibraltar and newly promoted Britannia have all appointed new coaches for the 2014/15 season.
After the surprise dismissal of coach Juan Luis Perez Herrera from the College dugout, the Dolphins appointed Jose Requena as their boss. Requena, a former goalkeeper at Spanish clubs Real Betis, Elche, Los Barrios and Balonpedica Linense, was assistant coach last season and has been promoted to head coach for the upcoming campaign. College have continued to scour the Spanish market for players bringing in a number of players from Spain which will no doubt increase the flair of the side going forward. A question will although be raised on the chances of the local based players breaking into the 1st team. Requena favours a more intense approach to his training methods and his players seem to have benefitted from this from their spirited displays against FC Vaduz in the Europa League.
Requena’s predecessor at College, Juan Luis Perez Herrera has taken over at FC Britannia. New boys to the Premier League, Britannia have surprised the local football community with this appointment. A real statement of intent from the club to appoint a manager who has plenty of pedigree locally, after guiding College to the Rock Cup final and hence the Europa League. Britannia announced the arrival of their new boss on twitter:
— Fcbritanniaxi (@fcbritanniaxi) July 3, 2014
Juan Luis Perez Herrera spoke to GFT upon his appointment as manager:
I feel extremely thankful for the interest shown by FC Britannia since the 1st day we sat down for talks. I am very excited to start the new season and delighted to once again to be involved in football in Gibraltar.
Britannia will have their work cut our for this season after the 2nd year under UEFA means clubs are more determined to reach their objectives to qualify for Europe. Herrera however has more modest targets:
Our objectives for the season begin with humility. We are the new comers to the league so we don’t set ourselves targets with respect to league position. We will play every game and the effort we put into those games will determine our position at the end of the season. The squad is very excited, between those players that have been longer at the club who have strived to see the team in Premier, to the new crop of players brought in during the summer who are just as excited to play in the top flight. They all have the same idea – with effort comes results. I am delighted with the effort and work rate the players are demonstrating in training.
James Watson, one of the men involved in the deal to bring in Herrera, also spoke to GFT regarding their new man.
The moment we got promoted, we knew we had to convert the club to a premier standard. Alongside everything else, having ‘Juanlu’ appointed as manager shows the progress made and direction the club is going. Very much looking forward to our partnership this season.
With Britannia already announcing the signing of some promising youngsters, the future looks bright for the new boys in Premier.
Lions Gibraltar have been doing the work quietly during the preseason. After a promising start last time round, their season began to unravel and just managed to avoid the relegation playoff by drawing against College in the penultimate league game. The club announced the change to the management team via twitter:
 We would like to announce that last years head coach Steve Cummings has decided to step down due to personal reasons.
— Lions Gibraltar FC (@LionsGibFC) July 7, 2014
 Although Steve will continue to coach his youth team. The committee would like to thank Steve for all his time, effort and dedication
— Lions Gibraltar FC (@LionsGibFC) July 7, 2014
Although not officially announced by the club, Lions Gibraltar F.C. are believed to have appointed Jeff Wood as club technical director and head coach of the first team after the departure of previous head coach Steve Cummings.
Wood is an experienced coach who has been involved in professional football as player and manager working with junior and senior professionals for over 30 years. His playing career combined over 500 professional 1st team appearances. He is familiar with Gibraltar football having worked and coached with national teams both at youth and senior level.
Most recently he was appointed as the goalkeeping coach for the Wales U19 and Wales U21 national teams as well as Conference Premier side Luton Town.
An exciting appointment by Lions should it become confirmed. A club with a strong youth setup, Wood would be the perfect man to continue the clubs progression and develop their talented youngsters.
An interesting time for clubs in Gibraltar, and with 5 weeks to go, there could may well be more interesting stories in the pipelines.