Q&A with head coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson
A week after being named to his new position, Timbers head coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson sat down with portlandtimbers.com to talk about his first seven days on the job and what fans can expect next season.
PORTLAND TIMBERS: How have you found your first week here in your new position; any pleasant surprises to report?
GAVIN WILKINSON: Lots of pleasant surprises, all great stuff! Basically, I wouldn’t say I’m learning the ropes, but I’m just becoming familiar with the processes, and I think the first week has been very productive. It’s been a good start.
PT: Obviously you’re still getting your bearings in this position. What sort of things have you been working on already?
GW: Basically just looking at what players we’ve got; what players we want to keep; what coaching staff is available. With John (Cunningham), we’re looking to find a business operations manager so we’ve been busy already; we’ve had a lot going on. I’ve been in contact with a lot of the players already, giving them some idea of what direction I’m heading in; when you look at it, it has been a busy week.
PT: When you’re looking at things to do as far as continuing to move the organization forward, what are some things that you want to do to continue to improve this organization?
GW: Firstly, I’d like to improve the quality of the playing team, looking at bringing in players that have a community-minded attitude and are respectful toward the organization. I want players that are willing to try and achieve something with this organization and hopefully that has a positive spin-off as far as continuing to bring in more fans and increasing the fan base.
PT: How important is it for you being as familiar as you are with the organization and the community itself?
GW: I think it’s huge. I think when you turn up and you see a few personalities that you know, you’re already familiar with who-does-what in the organization, you’re familiar with their personalities, and you can ask them certain things about this position, you can ask for feedback on players. You can get an idea of what everyone does at the stadium and how that reflects on the players and the community involvement, and it’s important for these players to be involved. To get feedback on some of these players is helpful as well. From a community aspect, being so familiar with the dynamic in the community means that we can step into this environment and feel comfortable and be very productive.
PT: What are some of the perks that you’ve found being in this position?
GW: John Cunningham brought me lunch today! That was the first benefit, actually, but it was only a six-inch Subway sub so we’ll have to improve on that! But, some of the perks are obviously my involvement with the community, the esteem the job brings, the level of respect that you automatically get from players and opponents, so that’s been one of the niceties as such, although it’s not something I’ll get accustomed to! So, that’s always involved with a job of this description as such at this level. The other perks, I’m sure they’ll come when we start winning games, so we’ll wait and see.
PT: Anything that you are looking forward to as an individual in taking on these new tasks?
GW: Yeah, molding a team that would get results and molding a team that can accommodate different situations within the game. That means when we’re on the road, depending on the current environment, what are we going after? How disciplined are we? How tactically sound are we? I’m looking at molding a quality, professional team - one that the players will be able to go on and later in their lives they’ll remember the 2007 season.
PT: From a fan perspective, even though it’s early in your tenure, what are some things that they could be getting excited about and looking forward to next year?
GW: Celebrating goals. While I may be speaking early, the whole idea of the game is to put the ball in the back of the net, and part of the process in doing that is that you want to keep the ball out of the back of your own net, so I would hope that the way we play shows the supporters how passionate we are. While you can’t win every game, players will take it to heart and there’ll be repercussions because they’re professionals; they’re expected to win and win at all costs. You know, I hope the fans will start to see that passion coming through, and generally when there’s that much passion exhibited on the field, it portrays itself off the field as well, and that is positive.
PT: Are you anxious for the season to start?
GW: Not too quickly! I want to do my homework; I want to make sure I’ve got the players that I want. If the season was to start too quickly, I’d feel completely disorganized, so it’s a good timeline and it gives me a few months to get some things under my belt. I’ll get the players in that I want, and the players that I’m not too sure of, I’ll get to find out a little bit more about them in the off-season.
PT: Great Gavin, thanks very much for your time.
GW: You’re welcome, mate.