BOGNOR general manager Jack Pearce will take the Rocks’ reigns once again after player-manager Sami El-Abd was forced to step down after just 12 days.
El-Abd, 29, was confirmed as Bognor’s new boss a fortnight ago as officials at Nyewood Lane looked to build on the momentum of last year’s promotion from the Isthmian Premier.
But, due to concerns raised by Albion In The Community, the charity arm of Brighton & Hove Albion which employs the defender as a coach, the Rocks’ skipper was forced to relinquish the role.
El-Abd will remain at the club as captain and an influential part of an impressive back four. While he will have a say in first team affairs, day-to-day running will be passed on to long-term coach Darin (Dabba) Kilpartrick and Gary Charman.
Pearce, though, has said he will be the one to take the final decisions – although he denied it was a return to management, more than 40 years after he first took charge at Nyewood Lane.
He told the Post: “I’ve been here a long time and it’s rare that we have got a real good feel factor. I don’t want to upset that.
“I know it’s not a normal model and I know that will have few problems going forward.
“But the wish of the players and the management is that we try this first to see where we end up.
“I do realise that it may not work and we go in to it with our eyes wide open. If it does not work, then I will be the first to know.”
The Rocks’ returned to action last Saturday with a 4-0 pre-season win at Worthing, thanks to goals from Ollie Pearce, Jimmy Wild, Doug Tuck and trialist Kieran Rowe.
Next up is a visit from League One side Portsmouth in a hastily arranged friendly at Nyewood tomorrow (1.30pm), which will be a real step up in quality and atmosphere.
Pearce said: “It’s always nice to beat local rivals 4-0. But we will be playing stronger teams than that from August 5 and we will be playing a much stronger team on Saturday. It will be interesting how we react when we play an opposition that has more of the ball than we have.”
Pearce said he expected ‘four or five new faces’ to be part of the squad tomorrow.
Among them will be Tommy Scutt, a teenage midfielder from Portsmouth who signed for the Rocks in March but did not feature in the run-in.
Among the new faces will be Joe Lea, a midfielder recently released by Yeovil; and Pat Suraci, a forward who has been at Southampton and Bournemouth academies.
Callum Stanton, the Bournemouth under 23 goalkeeper, will remain in goal as the future of last season’s stopper, Dan Lincoln, still remains unclear.