MATT Ford was last night already making plans for the Pirates class of 2013 as the dust slowly settled on Monday’s Elite League Grand Final heartache.
Ford looked on as Poole Coastal Aluminium failed to defend their 2011 title after being beaten 95-89 on aggregate by Swindon.
Pirates were left to rue injuries to Darcy Ward and Piotr Pawlicki ahead of Monday’s second leg and although late guest booking Chris Harris chipped in with paid nine, Ford’s men were ultimately found wanting at the bottom end as Ludvig Lindgren, Linus Eklof and Ricky Kling managed just nine points between them.
And the disappointment of Monday’s title defeat has seen Ford move quickly to start his team-building for next year’s campaign, despite still having the Knockout Cup to defend from last season’s memorable double.
Promoter Ford, whose side are back on track for this evening’s cup semi-final first leg against Peterborough at Wimborne Road (7.30pm), told the Echo last night: “I have already spoken to someone this morning regarding a contract for next year and I am hoping to know more on that tomorrow.
“I’ve been making calls and I am keen to get the first name on the team sheet for next season. What I can say is it isn’t one of the three headers from this year.”
While Ford would not be drawn on his target, it is understood he would be keen to keep hold of 17-year-old Pawlicki, who turned in some dazzling displays before his season was ended due to a shoulder injury.
Ford added: “What happened to Piotr Pawlicki really cost us in the final.
“Swindon had the strength in depth with Simon Stead moving into the main body of the team and Sebastian Alden coming in at reserve.
“Losing Jason Doyle to injury didn’t really affect them and, because we could only use one rider above and three below Piotr for rider replacement, it was hard for us.
“Fair play to Swindon on the night, but I don’t think they were better than us over the whole season.
“We had two points taken away from us for other things so that would have put us four points clear at the top of the table.
“They certainly weren’t the better team – it really came down to them having more luck with injuries.”
Asked whether he had any regrets over building a top-heavy team around Aussie stars Chris Holder and Ward, Ford said: “I think potentially I could look at things and question whether I was right to stick with one guy for so long. I suppose I could have made a change earlier.
“But I don’t want to hire and fire people constantly because it would give me a bad name in the sport.
“Having said that, I have definitely learned things about the people I have worked with this year and I think, in hindsight, I would have made certain changes earlier in the season.
“You have to accept that you can’t get it right all of the time and certainly there have been a couple of factors that have proved to be our downfall this season.
“We can put it right in the future, though, so it’s onwards and upwards.”
The Panthers have also been hit hard by injury and use two guests plus rider replacement tonight.
Niels-Kristian Iversen, meanwhile, guests for Ward.
Poole: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen (guest), 2 R/R for Piotr Pawlicki, 3 Chris Holder, 4 Ricky Kling, 5 Krzysztof Kasprzak, 6 Ludvig Lindgren, 7 Linus Eklof.
Peterborough: 1 Scott Nicholls (guest), 2 Norbert Kosciuch, 3 Mads Korneliussen (guest), 4 R/R for Ryan Sullivan, 5 Michael Jepsen Jensen, 6 Jason Bunyan, 7 Rene Bach.