REDDITCH United manager Liam McDonald believes his side are capable of producing an exciting 2014/15 campaign and build on a highly encouraging previous season which culminated in the Reds winning silverware.
The Valley Stadium outfit recovered from a dreadful start to last season to finish tenth in the Southern League Premier Division and capped off the campaign by winning the Worcestershire Senior Cup with a 5-2 victory over Evesham United in the final.
McDonald was satisfied with his first season as a manager but is always striving for improvement.
“Winning the cup topped off a successful season for us and coming tenth in the table was great. It was a fitting way to end the season,” said McDonald.
The season before McDonald took over, the club finished 19th in the table – just one point above the relegation zone – and the boss set standards high straight away.
He added: “I set very high standards last season. We fell behind early on the points that I wanted, but looking back maybe the bar I set was a bit too high.
“There were a few games towards the end of the season where we played three play-off teams and didn’t pick up any points, but they were difficult games.
“It was a good season and some fans have even said it was a fantastic season. However, we finished mid-table and want to progress next season.”
The manager also believes it is important to identify players for the transfer market all season long.
“I watched over 80 games from lower leagues in football last season. We’d play our games, then I’d go off and watch as many other games as I could,” added McDonald.
“I was identifying players with a view of bringing them in. We’ve got a young squad, but the character is excellent so I was looking for players who would fit in.
“The ones that I did identify went on my list and all the players I have wanted, I have signed. We’ve got a couple of local lads on board which is good for the club.”
As well as a few additions, the club are keen to retain the majority of the squad’s star players.
“We’ve been trying to keep the players who did well last season together. I’ve got good players here, who have had interest from higher levels, but they are happy here,” he continued.
Redditch have a mix of pre-season games, ranging from Studley, Pershore Town and Bromsgrove Sporting, to Worcester City, Solihull Moors and Cheltenham Town, with further games against Boldmere, Gosport and Guinea Bissau.
“A lot of managers have always looked at pre-season as a fitness exercise. It is a fitness exercise, but it is also about getting momentum,” said McDonald.
“We’ve got some difficult games like Solihull, Worcester and Cheltenham, but we’ve got some local more ‘winnable’ games too.
“We will be looking to build on our style of football, improve our defensive football, as well as a few other little things.”
McDonald has set targets for his squad and believes they will be able to achieve them, even if the bookies odds do not quite agree.
He said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if we were favourites to go down again. We are not in the best position financially and we play teams who have got double or triple the budget we have.
“However, as long as the players are developing the way I want them to develop, we will be successful this season.
“The dressing room knows what I want and I’m sure they can deliver.”
Redditch begin their pre-season campaign at Studley on the Bees’ 3G pitch on Saturday, July 12.