Gary Smith: We want to make the play-offs

New Stevenage manager sees similarities between Boro and the Colorado Rapids

GARY Smith says he can’t see any reason why Stevenage cannot maintain their current form and push for promotion this season after he was revealed as Stevenage’s new manager at a press conference.

A former youth coach at Wimbledon, Smith has also spent time coaching at Wycombe Wanderers and Watford but made his name in the USA by taking the Colorado Rapids to the MLS Cup in 2010.

Smith, though, found out last November that his contract with the Rapids would not be renewed after his second full season in charge, but said he is looking forward to the new challenge at Stevenage adding that he sees similarities between his playing squad at the Rapids and the one he has just inherited at Boro.

Attending today’s press conference with chairman Phil Wallace, The Comet asked Smith what targets he had been set by his new boss.

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“To go up, so not a difficult one. I think targets can be kept between us, but I think both of our thoughts are similar. We want to make the play-offs, we want to get into them and cause an upset again,” explained Smith.

“My thoughts are no different to the chairman’s. I should think the players are ultra buoyant at the moment and they should remain that way, and my job is to keep that momentum moving forward.

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“We all want to be successful, and we certainly don’t want to put any undue pressure on anyone, the players being the most important factor, but they’re in a great spot and I would think that confidence within the group and maintaining that is vitally important.”

Speaking about his time with the Rapids and the subsequent move to join Stevenage, Smith said: “In the MLS it wasn’t one of the more fancied franchises but the way the team evolved led us to some really good football, have some exciting times, and to win the only championship the team had ever won.

“It was a very enjoyable time, but most importantly I think, for me, it really emphasised some of the things I wanted to do were going to be successful in the future as well.

“We worked ever so hard behind the scenes with a particular budget and group, and the players that we brought in were good players and they formed a chemistry and a spirit and camaraderie that I think I see in the group here and they defied a lot of the odds. No-one fancied us, and as Millwall fans would say, ‘nobody cared about us’.

“It was a journey that evolved over a couple of seasons, but when you think that myself and Steve Guppy - having no previous history in the league or understanding of it, [having to] quickly adapt to the culture [and understanding] what was needed to win a championship - were able to recruit a lot of the guys who we felt could do it, we went on to form a well-balanced and a very competitive team.

“And I think that edge to the team took them to where they wanted to be, and in the end I think overpowered a number of teams that probably believed they were better but didn’t quite have the resources within the team to get it done.

“I was disappointed [not to have my contract renewed]. I’d done well. When anyone does well you expect that maybe you would be rewarded for that, and feel that you should be supported for that. I wasn’t, and I wasn’t very happy about that at the time, but I’m pleased [Phil Wallace] has seen the success, the qualities that were put into place [at the Rapids] and feels that we can take Stevenage forward.”

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