Full interview - Ardley offers his heart and soul to Dons fans

Neal Ardley has promised to work 24-7 to take the Dons to the next level

Neal Ardley has promised to work 24-7 to take the Dons to the next level

First published in AFC Wimbledon Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

AFC Wimbledon have unveiled Neal Ardley as their new manager and the former Dons' midfielder says he will put his heart and soul into taking the club to the next level.

Ardley, who spent 11 years as a Wimbledon midfielder from 1991, was chosen by the board ahead of caretaker manager Stuart Bassey and the bookies' favourite Robert Page.

The 40-year-old will be introduced to the Kingmeadow faithful before taking charge of the League Two clash with Cheltenham on Saturday.

There are question marks over Ardley's lack of experience as a league manager but the Epsom-born former U21 England international points to his five years as youth academy manager of Cardiff City and more than 400 top-flight appearances - including 245 for Wimbledon - as good grounding for the challenges ahead.

But first and foremost, Ardley is excited about his first management position.

He said: "I am under no illusions about the task ahead but I will put my heart and soul into doing it right. I can guarantee the fans that I will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the club.

"At the end of the day, the only thing I can be judged on in terms of the fans and their history with the club and love of it, is the results and taking AFC Wimbledon forward."

Ardley added: "I've always wanted to a manager, when I was offered the Cardiff City academy manager job five years' ago, I thought it was the perfect place to learn my trade. Too many footballers come out of football and think they know what they are doing straight away. But believe me, in the first few years at Cardiff I learnt a shedload.

"Coming to AFC Wimbledon just feels right. I know that if you look at the grand scheme of things a lot of fans will look at me and say he has no league experience, but how many candidates that applied had successful league experience, I don't know. Only the board know that.

"What I do know is that I know football, I know man-management, I know how to motivate people, I know systems. I know League Two is a tough place and we're in a tough predicament but I would like to think my knowledge of football is going to serve this club well. I am confident and I think the board is confident, and hopefully I can win the fans round and the only thing that will do that is by climbing up the league."

With only two days between his appointment and the first game of the new era, Ardley has little time to adjust, but he says this is where the present coaching staff come in to play.

He said: "I don't know if I'm a miracle worker and what I can do in two days, but I'll get my wand out. But seriously, it will be more about motivation.And I trust my ability to see problems during the game. Should things be happening in the game and I see solutions to problems, then hopefully I can do that during the game.

"I am very much a manager where everything is a team effort. Everything is a discussion. Ultimately I have my opinions and I have my say, but I would like to think that after a while we'll all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

"In the short term, Simon is extremely important to us he in that he has that continuity, he knows the league, the players and he'll be a massive asset to us. Beyond, I have my own ideas on how we can move forward but at the moment I am not going all guns blazing."

Ardley's appointment comes after weeks of speculation since the sacking of Terry Brown and Stuart Cash last month - a pair of very big boots to fill.

Ardley, who attended AFC Wimbledon's first ever game in, said: "I know that the job people within in the club have done over the last 10 years has been nothing short of phenomenal.The guys before me were fantastic but we have to make steps forward - it won't happen overnight, it will take time." 

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