Martin Allen says he “didn’t enjoy” what he saw from his side when he returned to Barnet in March but hopes Bees’ fans feel the team are “good to watch” four months into his fourth tenure at the club.
The 49-year-old succeeded Dick Schreuder and Uli Landvreugd on March 19 but admitted he was “pretty disappointed” by what he found on his return to the club he had last managed in 2012.
And Allen appreciates the importance of building a side which supporters want to part with their money to come and watch – something he hopes he has achieved in the short space of time he has been at the helm at The Hive.
He said: “I didn’t really enjoy it to be honest [when I came back]. I was pretty disappointed to be fair. Some of the games where I was stood in that technical area and you’re getting over-run, out-powered, out-run, out-fought, I didn’t really enjoy it. It was quite clear changes needed to be made.
“I think it’s sharpened up – the attitude of the players – on and off the field. They’re slimmer, they’re trimmer, we’ve tested all their weights and they’re down, they’ve all come back from their summer breaks in good shape and I’ve got to say I’m really proud of them.”
The hope for Allen is those changes have been recognised by the club’s supporters come matchday.
“If you’re a paying public, I think you want to know that the people you pay to watch look after their bodies,” mused Allen. “Individually they do their best to play well and if you’re a paying public, you want to know the team’s going to give everything and they’re well organised and at least they look like a proper team.”
He continued: “I would hope that the Barnet supporters will say that they’re a decent group of lads and a decent team and good to watch.”
The changes have not stopped there though, with Allen implementing a number of subtle – but important – alterations around The Hive.
He explained: “All the players have to clean their own boots before going into the building; we don’t allow dirty boots. All the players have to take their own kit home and wash it now. No-one’s allowed to have their kit washed here – me included – so I wash my own kit.
“When I was here last season, some were having it [their kit] washed, some weren’t having it washed, some were paying for their boots to be cleaned, some were not having their boots cleaned and some were cleaning their own boots.
“It’s pretty simple and if you can’t be bothered to clean your own boots when you get in from training every day, then you’ve got serious problems in my mind,” added Allen.
On the field, seven of the club’s nine summer signings bring Football League experience with them, with the likes of Charlie MacDonald, Sam Togwell and Lee Cook having played the majority of their lengthy careers in the elite 72.
However Allen says it was not only experience of playing at a higher level which he looked for when seeking to improve the Bees squad.
Said Allen: “I thought the squad needed to be bigger [physically], I thought the squad needed to be stronger and now it looks like we’ve got a good balance of young players that have come through the system with some experience and it’s my job now to blend it all together.
“They’re all good athletes, good strong athletes, good characters and personalities and I did think we needed to change something after relegation and what I would describe as an average year last year.
“Barnet need to finish above eighth for it to be a good season.”