NEW Redditch United boss Tim Harris believes it will take at least 12 to 18 months to get the team into a position in which they can become genuine Southern League Premier Division promotion contenders.
The former Gloucester City and Newport County boss has overseen a 2-0 home loss to Stratford Town and a 5-2 defeat at title favourites Hereford and has already pinpointed defensive frailties as an area in need of immediate improvement.
However, Harris accepts it will be a much longer process in the attempt to put together a side capable of threatening the top five.
“I’ve only been here five minutes of course, but I have found the chairman and directors to be keen and enthusiastic to get this club moving in the right direction,” Harris told the Standard.
“However, Redditch is not at the level I have worked at before. I completely accept that of course, but we need to raise the standards here and we will do.
“I only want players who want to be at Redditch United and I will make sure that is the case. The aim is to put together a squad with a strong team ethic, but that will take time given the comings and goings in recent weeks.
“As is always the case for any new manager, I will have to assess who I’d like to keep hold of, who will be leaving and who I think we need to bring in who we can realistically attract.”
Harris was realistic about the task facing his side at Hereford and so it proved as the Bulls recovered from a 1-0 deficit to power to victory.
Ash Sammons’ penalty put the visitors ahead in the eighth minute before the prolific John Mills levelled from the spot and Pablo Haysham gave Hereford the lead, only for Sammons to release Stuart Fleetwood to draw the Reds’ level just before the half hour mark.
However, former Evesham United striker Lance Smith and Haysham struck to make it 4-2 to the home side before the break before Mills’ late goal completed the scoring.
Harris was far from downbeat, but admitted United had made life difficult for themselves.
“We’ve got to be realistic. Hereford are marching back up through the divisions and will only keep going for some while yet. They are watched by 3,000 fans at home week in, week out, so it was always likely to be a difficult afternoon for us,” added the manager.
“We scored twice against a side who had only conceded seven league goals at home all season and really competed well for decent periods, but our defending must improve.
“That’s not a case of singling out defenders either, that’s improving defensively from front to back. We’ve got to eradicate the sloppy errors, start to keep clean sheets and give ourselves the chance to win games on a consistent basis.
“I’m hoping to conclude a deal to bring someone into the squad from a higher level who I’ve been chasing for some time as a manager now and I’ll be delighted if we get that over the line this week.
“Then it’s a case of continuing to improve the squad. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Redditch, in 15th place, host Farnborough on Saturday before travelling to Southern League West outfit Cinderford Town for a League Cup third round tie on Tuesday (7.45pm).
TABLE-TOPPING Redditch United Ladies return to West Midlands Division One South action at home to Coventry Sphinx at the Trico Stadium on Sunday (2pm, free entry).
The Reds – who lead the way from Gornal on goal difference with a game in hand – boast a perfect league record after nine games as they prepare to face fourth placed Sphinx, who have won seven and lost two of their nine league encounters.