Weston coach Steve Piggott was backing his new squad to take the Bears from last to mid-table in 2017 after retaining just eight players from this year’s National Premier League campaign.
Piggott, who was sacked after steering the Bears to the grand final in 2014, has returned to Weston after coaching Maitland for the first half of 2016. He said only Greg Anderson, Jake Millsteed, Nick Thompson, Zac Sneddon, Jordan Jackson, Jake Barner, Isaac Peek and Jacob Golding remain from this year’s top 30 at Weston, who won one game in collecting the wooden spoon.
Piggott has recruited goalkeeper Tim Pratt, Brock Oakley (Maitland), Jamie Byrnes (Jaffas) and Central Coast’s Zac Thomas, Chris Hurley and Max Foster. He also hoped to have American forward Reed McKenna, who played 2015 with Oklahoma City in the third-tier USL.
The coach said the average age of his squad was only 20.6 years and his focus was on having fit and mobile players with the right attitude.
“They came last, only won one game and I don’t think anyone played well,” Piggott said of Weston’s 2016. “Some moved on of their own accord. Others I didn’t invite back. I just looked at players who suited what I wanted to do, would get on board, train hard and be young and fit.
“The one thing we don’t have is the hangover from not winning games last year, because it’s a new group. We won’t have that attitude problem of ‘here we go again’. I’ve signed for three years so there’s no pressure on me to perform straight up, but I’m quietly confident we’ll be middle of the pack somewhere.”
“Without seeing anyone play yet, that’s a big call, but I don’t lose many games.”
He said “everything is going great” so far at Weston, who are training twice a week and have trial games against Edgeworth, the Jets Youth and Sydney clubs lined up.
Piggott hoped to have McKenna, a 24-year-old former UCLA player, on board in January.
He said Pratt cannot train until the new year, so he was on the lookout for another goalkeeper in the meantime.
As well as the Weston job, Piggott has taken on the head coaching role with Zone League Two side Maryland Fletcher.
He said he would train Maryland Fletcher on Thursday nights and the club would work their playing schedule around Weston’s.
Bears president Rod Henderson said Piggott was taking on the Maryland Fletcher role with Weston’s blessing and “his input to the club overall has been fantastic”.
Henderson said Piggott was also overseeing Weston’s women's program.
Piggott said the club hoped to field an A-grade women’s side this year with the ambition of making the jump to the Herald Women’s Premier League in 2018.