NIGEL CLIBBENS may be a man without a desk at the moment, but the chief executive believes Town are well set to embark on the Championship and has firm plans to keep them on the up.
Laptop and mobile constantly within reach amid office re-developments at the stadium, Dean Hoyle’s right hand man has his finger on the beating pulse of every department in the club, with Sean Jarvis leading a magnificent surge in commercial development.
He’s happy with progress both on and off the field – work at the Canalside training complex is getting back on schedule after weather hold-ups – and he’s eager to build on the feelgood factor of promotion by grasping fresh opportunities in the community and setting targets which can be achieved step by step.
Top priority remains the playing side.
“We sat down with Simon Grayson very early after the play-off victory to look at the positions we thought we needed to strengthen, and he told us his views on the sort of players he was looking for,” said Clibbens.
“We talked about players in terms of experience, age, potential, value and scope to maybe buy and then make a profit if we sold them on.
“We also talked about players with something to prove, so with all those factors we had a template for the sort of individuals we were looking for and the positions we wanted to fill – and we’ve spent the last couple of months trying to find those pieces of the jigsaw and putting it all together.
“I think we’ve done really well, although before you kick a football everyone is always very optimistic and it’s important to keep your feet on the ground.”
A big turnaround in players was inevitable after promotion, but Clibbens believes one signing which will now become all-important was made back in February – that of Grayson and his staff.
“With the players we’ve got and the approach Simon brings I feel we are in a very good place,” said Clibbens.
“I don’t think anyone is getting too carried away. I know our fans enjoyed the moment of getting promoted, but their expectations and those in the club are very realistic.
“It is crucial that Simon has managed at this level before – that’s going to be very important for us.
“He knows what the Championship is all about – he knows it better than the league we’ve just left – and that’s a huge advantage for us going into this season.
“He knows the players in the league and he knows the teams, and the players we have brought in are pretty seasoned campaigners in this league – not just playing in it, but playing in it towards the top.
“These guys won’t be fazed by anything, and that will be good for the confidence of the lads who haven’t experienced it before, so we’ve got a good mix of youth and experience.
“That’s what you need because the Championship is an exceptionally tough league. When you look at the fixture list it’s a step into the unknown maybe for many of our fans, but it certainly isn’t for the management team and the players and that’s crucial.”