New Wingate manager Ben Winston
Ben Winston is the new manager of Wingate & Finchley after former Arsenal player Martin Hayes parted company with the club by mutual consent.
Hayes took over from Michael Stone last month after Stone moved to Rushden & Diamonds. But, with the team lying seventh in the Ryman League Division One North table and in playoff contention, they suffered five defeats in the six matches he was in charge for.
Wingate chairman Aron Sharpe said: “The appointment of Martin Hayes was always a suck it and see situation. We thought we’d give it until the end of the season but he has a full-time job in Colchester and it just wasn’t working. He’s a really good guy and a good manager and it was an amicable agreement. There is certainly no crisis. Now we need to regroup and settle the club down.
“We’re in a position where the team can claim its best ever finish. Ben’s more than capable of doing the job until the end of the season as caretaker-manager. Him being shomer Shabbat isn’t an issue as we’ve worked a way around it.”
Looking ahead to the run-in, Sharpe said: “The playoffs would be nice but are neither here nor there. People need to see a progressive pathway and remember how far we’ve come this season. It’s not been a negative season, it’s a great season.
“I’d like to think we’ll be settled for next season as Ben is a highly charismatic guy with a lot of qualities. He has the respect of the squad.”
Winston, 27, is relishing being in charge for the club's last eight games starting at home to Tilbury, who lie 10th, tomorrow.
He said: "I'm delighted to be manager of Wingate. It's a club I've really fallen in love with, a fantastic club with great traditions. We have a really good group of playing and I'm excited to be working with them.
"I hope to bring cohesion and unity. If I didn't think I was ready I wouldn't have taken it. It's important that we continue to make huge strides forward and I guess I'll have to be judged on the next eight games."
Not only if the former London Maccabi Lions manager one of the youngest ever bosses at Wingate & Finchley, he is also one of the fittest, walking 45 minutes to home game at the Abrahams stadium as he does not drive on Shabbat.
He has already been in charge of the first team twice this season, claiming a win and a draw. He said: "I loved working with Michael Stone. He's a fantastic guy, coach and manager, and I'm sure we'll work together again in the future. I also got on really well with Martin Hayes but believe that he was possibly not the right man for where the club is now. But he did a good job while he was here but, unfortunately, the results did not come although I feel that the whole squad needs to take collective responsibility for this."
Looking to the future, he said: "The Jewish element of Wingate is crucially important and should not be overlooked. The club really feels like it represents the community and will look at the situation from the bottom up and address it during the close season. We are always looking at ways of bringing in more Jewish players."
He remains "100 per cent committed" with his duties of helping manager Jonathan Kestenbaum lead the Team GB open football team at the Maccabiah Games in July. He said: "I'm very excited about what will be a very tough and high quality competition."