Jack Pearce hopes Robbie Blake can help the Rocks rediscover the goalscoring touch that they missed as they were relegated – and turn them into winners again.
In a coup for the Rocks, the former Burnley, Leeds and Bradford striker has agreed to move to Nyewood Lane as first-team coach after leaving a similar role at Pompey.
Pearce is thinking of also bringing in an assistant coach and he will also remain involved in team management himself although it is not thought he will have the title of first-team manager.
Blake’s appointment came shortly before another three of last season’s squad – Corey Heath, Doug Tuck and Dan Beck – pledged their commitment to at least another season at Nyewood Lane. And the Rocks have also added their first new face of the summer, recruiting left-sided utility player Harvey Sparks after his departure from Worthing.
Pearce said he was over the moon to recruit Blake, telling the Observer: “One of my friends at Pompey rang me and said they were aware we were looking for a coach and telling me Robbie was not going to be retained at Fratton Park.
“My contact told me he was a great lad who wanted to stay in the area so I rang Robbie and met him and we agreed a deal. I’m delighted he’s agreed to be our coach. He will bring a lot of experience to the club.
Robbie has an excellent goalscoring record at the highest level. If we can get the right blend of forwards in the squad, you’d be hopeful having him coach them could only improve them.Jack Pearce
“He will be contracted but it is not a full-time role.”
Pearce added: “We look forward to working alongside Robbie, who has gained valuable knowledge in a very respectable playing career and, of course, at Pompey as a coach.
“It’s always exciting to bring on board people who we believe can bring fresh ideas and new energy, and Robbie certainly fits the bill. Robbie joins us after coming to the end of his contract at Pompey working under Kenny Jackett.”
Pearce said Blake, a 42-year-old who scored 145 goals in 580 Football League games, including more than 200 appearances for Burnley, could be the perfect man to put right Bognor’s shortage of quality in front of goal that cost them so dear last season.
“Robbie has an excellent goalscoring record at the highest level. If we can get the right blend of forwards in the squad, you’d be hopeful having him coach them could only improve them.”
Blake said he was looking forward to the role: “I think it’s going to be quite hands on. I’ll be taking all the training, with Jack having the final say. I’ll be having a lot to do with the team.
“It sounds pretty good. It’s important to me to have that responsibility.
“Organising the training and having the input of how I feel the team should play is something I’m looking forward to. Having had the meeting with Jack they are keen to hear my ideas - and that’s exciting.”
Blake began his pro career with Darlington in 1994 and went on to play 580 games in a Football League career that included time at Bradford, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Birmingham, Leeds, Bolton and Doncaster.
Fans are excited by Blake’s appointment and have been buoyed by the number of players staying at the Lane for the Bostik premier campaign.
Pearce said he was happy with the progress of player recruitment but having got a strong-looking defence and midfield in place for next season, the forward line was the next priority to strengthen.
The Rocks are still in negotiation with strikers Jimmy Muitt and Ollie Pearce over whether they will stay, plus midfielder Tommy Block.
The future of keeper Dan Lincoln is up in the air while it is thought unlikely Ben Swallow, Ibra Sekajja or Richard Gilot will be back for the new season.
Pearce said: “Even though we were relegated, our players have been in demand. Many have had offers from other clubs.
“That means we could have less money coming in next season and more being paid out. That being the case, it’s important we don’t have another season of losing game. We need to be winning and playing well to turn things around.”
Stick with www.bognor.co.uk for Rocks updates throughout the week
(https://www.bognor.co.uk/sport/football/non-league/ex-worthing-star-is-first-new-face-to-join-rocks-and-beck-s-back-1-8514685|Sparks joins - and Beck stays}