After a month in the managerial hot-seat at Brocstedes Park, Ashton Athletic manager Jimmy McBride believes he…
…..is close to getting a squad together that will be geared up for a survival battle in the North West Counties League Premier Division.
McBride joined previous manager Ian Street as assistant at the start of the season, and took over the reins from Ian in mid-November, although the weather has dictated that he has been in charge for just three games, the latest being a 4-1 defeat at Padiham on Saturday.
Looking back over the campaign so far, McBride believes that the club is due a change of luck in the second half of the season.
“We started off well enough but then we lost a few players, like Daley Woods and Matty Ward, who were influential for us”, he explained. “We then had a few injuries that cost us, our goalkeeper Chris Brinksman left, and it was a catalogue of different things really that started to give us problems.
“Ian went down the road of getting some loan players in to bolster the squad, but that didn’t really work. So when I took over, my assistant Dave Ness and me looked at what we had, identified where we could improve straight away, and we have added to the squad and are looking to sign two or three more players before Christmas.
“The problem I have now in getting the job mid-season is that getting players in is difficult, especially with the Christmas period coming up. But we’ve signed Justin Young who was Barnsley’s youth team captain, although he has not played for seven months since he left pro football. He’s now played four games in seven days, and was just about dead on his feet when we substituted him at Padiham on Saturday, but he is only going to get better as he gets fitter.”
Although he is set on adding to his squad, McBride is also aware that time is not on his side to build a team halfway through a campaign.
“The first thing we have to do is build some team spirit and I think we are getting there”, he said. “You don’t build a team in one season, especially when we are up against teams like Runcorn Town or Maine Road who have squads who have been together for a while, and have built the team over a number of years. You need a bit of continuity, and we are trying to build a team from lads who don’t know one another and we are asking them to play football as a team and work hard for each other.
“It’s difficult, it’s a slow process but we are getting there. Despite the result I thought the lads’ commitment against Padiham was excellent, and if the lads have worked hard in games and done their best but we have still lost, you just have to hold your hands up.
“But playing teams like Padiham on their own ground is not going to define our season, it’s games against the teams around us that will be important. The effort and commitment within the squad is certainly there, we showed that at Padiham on Saturday. The challenge is that we have to do the same again in the next game”.
Despite the team’s precarious position, Jimmy is upbeat about the future, and believes that the club is in a good position to progress.
“I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to take over at the club, despite the fact it’s tough at the moment”, he said. “I’m very grateful to the committee for giving me the job, because it’s a good club to be involved with. There are good people there, and there is a good infrastructure, from the junior teams upwards. The aim for the future is to consolidate, and bring lads through the ranks into the first team, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”