A few weeks into the season, 1874 Northwich manager Ian Street believes that he and his brand new team are….
…..starting to settle down well into their inaugural campaign in the North West Counties League.
The club have lost just once in the league so far, although they also went out of the FA Vase at the hands of Oldham Boro last weekend, but Street feels he is now at the stage where the team is starting to gel and the club has a solid base to build on.
“It was a bit daunting at first, looking at having to go from zero to getting a team that has to be able to compete”, he said. “But I have built a large squad now, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest players have shown in coming to the club. It’s a friendly and well run club with great supporters, I can’t knock anything about it and I am really glad I’ve got involved.”
When Street first found out about the club being formed, he admits that the attraction of managing a brand new club had immediate appeal.
“Lee Duckworth, who is now my assistant-manager, first told me about it and from there I’d gone on the internet and found the forum that was running at the time”, he explained. “There was obviously a lot of interest being generated, and I thought that it could be a good thing to be a part of, and that is proving to be the case.
“When I made my interest known and went to speak to the board members, it was a very different type of interview from going to an established club, because obviously at that stage the board couldn’t really tell me what the playing budget was going to be.
“After I got the job, I went to a meeting and they told me what the budget was. At the time I thought that if I was going to achieve what they wanted me to achieve, it was going to be difficult.
“To go from nothing to competing at the top of any division is obviously going to be hard, and I did wonder for a short while if I had done the right thing in taking the job – but that didn’t last long. It’s a fantastic club and concept to be involved with, because everything is new.
“I’m the first manager, I’ve overseen the first game, then the first league game then the first goal. It’s great to be involved from the start in a new club like this.”
Although Ian has extensive experience of playing and managing in the Northern Premier League and in NWCL Premier Division, he admits to being a bit out of touch with teams in the First Division, so the early stages of this season have at times been a bit of an eye-opener for him.
“I’ve been surprised at the level of commitment that all the teams show”, he said. “Oldham Boro on Saturday in the Vase were a case in point. To a man they battled hard, really wanted it, and they were obviously made up at the final whistle, so good luck to them.
“We played Rochdale Town a couple of weeks ago when they were bottom of the league and they gave it a really good go too. Nobody in this division looks like they are just going to roll over against us, and that seems to be the case all over. I’ve been getting around watching other games in the division, and every club seems to have lads who will roll their sleeves up and give 100%.
“So it is certainly not easy and I have give credit to all the teams I have seen so far. There are clubs we are coming up against that I haven’t got much idea about, whereas in the Premier or in the NPL I know a bit about them or their managers, and can look at them and think that they will do this and do that.
“So I am coming blind into games a little bit and I don’t really like that, but I have to deal with it and do plenty of scouting or spying on opponents when I can.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Ian is still looking to bring players in, but he says he is generally happy with the squad he has at his disposal.
“There are certain areas we need to strengthen”, he says. “In the Oldham Boro game in the Vase last Saturday I was slightly disappointed with the performance. We had a good first half and created a few chances and their keeper pulled off a few good saves. It’s been the story of our first six weeks – we’ve been creating a lot of chances and not taking them, and then getting punished.
“We managed to claw our way back and get draws in those early games, but against Oldham it didn’t happen.
“I’ve had feedback from other managers saying that we look good, but I know what is required to get out of this division. I feel the squad is good enough to be competing in the top six, and whether in April that turns out to be the case, we will have to wait and see.”