George Friend's new recruitment role, Championship ambitions & Memorial Stadium plans - Hussain AlSaeed on the future of Bristol Rovers

The co-owner has detailed plans for Rovers going forward as fans can expect wholesale changes in the squad this summer.
Mem Mem

Bristol Rovers co-owner Hussain AlSaeed spoke with BBC Bristol and detailed the plans he and his board of directors have for the Gas going forward.

Over four months have passed since the club's hierarchy decided to relieve former manager Joey Barton of his duties. Fast forward to today and new manager Matt Taylor has just 12 matches left until the end of the season. The Kuwait national was asked how he thought the club was fairing today under Taylor's new management. "So far so good, not as good as we wanted it to be, there is a lot of room for improvement," he said. "This is a working year and we are doing work behind it and hopefully it will be a good start next year."

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It has been a tough start for Taylor as Rovers boss, with the 42-year-old struggling for points as of late, whilst having to deal with a lengthy injury and suspension list. "Its only been two months, he needs more time," said AlSaeed. "A lot of the players were here before him, so we can’t really judge him at the moment, he is doing a decent job so far with what we have, a lot of injuries as well won’t help. January was difficult, he needs a window or two to help build his team, we are behind him and we are supporting him," he added.

With the summer fast approaching, AlSaeed was asked what Gasheads can expect in terms of incomings to the club. "It will be completely different, we have a different strategy we are going to implement and that is a good chance for Matt and the rest of the team to have the squad they are looking for and have the players that they want. We will be concentrating on young talent, certainly the average age will come lower, you have seen what we have signed in the last window, that is the sort of age we are looking for, a younger team that we can build that can take us through to the next three-to-five years."

Recent reports suggest that George Friend will be starting a new role as head of recruitment at the end of the season, as the former Middlesbrough defender is expected to hang his boots up, after what has been a lengthy and successful career. The Rovers co-owner was asked about what Friend will bring to the club in his new role. "He has got the character, the experience, the relationship, he will do a good job in that position. We don’t have to look outside too much, its all in-house, we have a good player that has been with us, he is getting ready to take the job, on Monday they will announce it."

AlSaeeed spoke about the plan for the club to being playing Championship football in the not too distant future. "We are going to do all we can to get there within those three years. It is achievable, we are doing a lot of things behind the scenes, perhaps the fans are not realising. The infrastructure, the club itself, the personnel, we are very confident that we will do our best to give a good team, a competitive team and I think we will get there."

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Improvements to the Mem have been ongoing this season, most notably the brand new south stand which is now up to full capacity adding a great atmosphere behind the goal. The co-owner explained what Gasheads can expect to change next at the stadium. "The design has almost been complete, but we can’t disclose it the public yet, we will have to talk to the council and we will see what can be done. Once we have done that we will show it to the public. I have ambitions to build it is as soon as possible, but sometimes things take a bit more time than usual, but I would be looking at next season, perhaps the season after."

AlSaeed also made it abundantly clear that the Rovers supporters were at the forefront of all decision-making for the football club. The club recently released season ticket information for next season, which in turn has caused some mixed reaction across the fanbase. "We are going to meet with the fans and we are going to discuss that and try and solve any issues that they might have. We have kept this in mind and we will communicate the solution to this. There are many things that the fans must be aware of, we are trying to build an age group for the kids. We would definitely like the young fans part of the game. With everything getting expensive with inflation, we are trying to be as economical as possible, without increasing the prices. This year will be a difficult year as there has been a lot of changes that we have gone through, which will mean it will be more costly, but certainly next year it will be much improved."

The co-owner also expressed one last message to the fans, who continue to passionately support their club at every match. "Support us, stick with us even though we are a bit far from the play-offs, even though mathematically we have a chance. Don’t give up on the team, be behind the team and we are going to do our best to improve our position, to improve the ranking of the table."

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