NEW REDDITCH United manager Darren Byfield said the Valley Stadium was a ‘great’ place to begin his senior managerial career having been appointed as Liam McDonald’s successor.
The 39-year-old former Aston Villa and Walsall striker, who also boasts spells at Rotherham United, Gillingham, Millwall and Bristol City on an impressive playing CV, was buzzing with excitement as he was officially unveiled as the new Reds boss on Wednesday.
Byfield, who retired from playing at the end of the 2015/16 campaign during which he was a player/coach with National North champions Solihull Moors, where he also managed the under 18s and Reserves, told the Standard: “It has long been an ambition of mine to become a manager and I cannot wait for the season to start.
“This is a great club for me to be at and I knew as soon as I met the chairman (Chris Swan) that I wanted to work under his chairmanship.
“This is a brilliant opportunity for me and I believe myself and Chris will have an excellent working relationship. We share the same ambitions for this club and I already feel very comfortable here.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season but of course there’s a lot to be done before that in respect of putting together a squad which will help us challenge in the way we want to next season.”
Byfield, who arrives with glowing praise from Solihull Moors manager and former Football League player Marcus Bignot, revealed he had already begun the process of talking to the existing Valley Stadium squad, several of whom have been tipped to follow McDonald to his new club Hednesford Town.
“I’ve had conversations with lots of the current players and have met a few in person already, because there’s some very good players here and clearly I will want to keep a good percentage of them,” said Byfield, whose number two will be former Reds striker Kyle Patterson.
“I am well aware players show loyalties to managers and might want to follow Liam (McDonald) or move elsewhere, but we have got ambitions of our own here and I will be outlining to the players what I want to achieve here and I hope many will buy into it.
“There’s this tendency in football, especially in non-league, for managers to take the bulk of a squad with them whenever they move somewhere, but I don’t really see it that way.
“Redditch were runners-up last season so clearly there’s some gifted players here and I want to keep them. You don’t just throw a successful base away if you can help it.
“Depending on how my discussions go, I’ll then set about seeing what we need to do in terms of bringing in players from elsewhere. I have some ideas of course, but it’s early days.
“I know Marcus (Bignot) very well and I know he has offered his support, which is nice. There may be a link for us to utilise there and if we can benefit from it then I’d be a fool to ignore it, but it’s all early days still.
“I will be working extremely hard over the coming weeks and months to get us as prepared as we can be. I am thrilled to have been given this chance to manage Redditch United.”
One player Byfield will definitely be without is talented centre back Jim Mutton who as the Standard went to press made the move to Hednesford to join McDonald.