INTERVIEW – Assistant manager emphasis on building culture

November 20, 2018

Senior men’s new assistant manager Michael Calandrella said the backroom staff is focused on developing the right culture within the squad to guide them to better things in 2019.


The 42-year-old arrived at Wembley Park as Con Karagiannidis’ understudy in October this year and has gone straight into the challenge by taking charge of the pre-season training.

Calandrella now wants to lay down a strong base towards next season and said, “We look to build culture first and then the rest comes on the pitch. We are big on playing good football but at the same time working hard. These are a couple of traits that we hope will help us throughout the season.”


He added, “We have had the first week of training now and looking at a couple of the core boys that came into training last week – the more experienced senior players – they came in off their own backs. They weren’t required but they wanted to come in.


“To see the way those senior boys running around, picking up balls after training, carrying the water bottles – these are the little things I pick up on. When you see that coming from the more senior players, the culture is already on the right track. It is a good base for any young player in the squad to learn from.”


The former striker, who plied his trade in Victorian football, worked with Karagiannidis at Pascoe Vale SC. Speaking about their coaching partnership, Calandrella said, “Con and I have very similar beliefs and philosophies in football. We continually challenge each other, talk football constantly, always bouncing [ideas] off each other. We get to learn from each other at the same time.

“We have got a certain style we like to play, we like to dominate possession. It’s not just about keeping the ball, but we like to dominate all areas of the pitch, with and without the ball, and do something with it.


“That comes from hard work and hard training and getting everybody on the same page. But more importantly, once we get the culture right, the football becomes easier.”


Calandrella cut his teeth into youth coaching at Sunshine George Cross and briefly at St Albans Saints. In 2018, he guided the Pascoe Vale under-20s to the NPL title.

Reflecting on his venture into senior football, he said, “For me, it was always making it to senior football. It’s not a great difference from the reserves to the seniors. Probably the intensity and the maturity are different. But if you stick to your principles and take your principles forward, then it’s football at the end of the day.”

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