With only two days now to the start of the Evo-Stik Division One South at Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday, Rainworth MW’s Kevin Gee has confirmed he is happy with his squad.
This came after two more experienced players committed to the club this week.
In what will be his second full season at the club, he arrived at the beginning of October 2011, with relegation a distinct possibility.
That season Gee turned around the results and by the end of the season achieved 19th position some 14 points clear of the two bottom clubs.
Last season saw a continued improvement with a respectable mid-table finish (14th), having flirted with the play-off positions before Christmas.
This season the fans expectations are once again high with the ‘play-offs’ high on their wish lists. The manager is more realistic and sees improving last season’s league position, but more importantly consolidation within the club a more realistic aim.
He said: “The fans’ desires are not driven by financial realism or budgets, and whilst we both have similar dreams, I am subjected to those restraints.
“The Evo-Stik Leagues are no different to any other professional or semi-professional ones, and finances do play a large part in what you can and cannot achieve. The fact Rainworth are not only playing but becoming competitive at this level is testament to how far we’ve come and the efforts of everyone connected with the club.
“As a club we have always been financially sound, but with a low fan base and no bar income, there are limitations as to what we can and can’t do. We are unable to protect our star players from predatory clubs, by giving them contracts, or to compete with the very wealthy for top players.
“This has meant we have had to supplement our squad with our development squad players. I must give a special mention to one such player, Jordan Claxton, who after playing a few games at the latter end of last season, has now become a full member of the first team squad.
“There are others in the development squad who have the potential to step up, like Jordan and over the coming months we will hopefully see some of them as well.”
Kevin was also philosophical about the size of his current squad, saying: “I appreciate it will get more difficult to keep them happy once everyone is fit, but at this level with upwards of six games in a month, cover is essential to remain competitive.
“We have a good group of players this year and the balance between experience and youth is just about right.”
Finally he reflected on last Saturday’s game and the coming opening game of the season against Loughborough Dynamo.
“Last Saturday I thought was a really good workout for both teams and undoubtedly Ossett were the better team in terms of ball retention, which made us have to work incredibly hard out of possession to stay in the game,” he said. “Whilst the fans may bemoan the style in which we won - it’s only when you stop winning that they start to question the manager.
“We are now ready to start the new campaign this Saturday with a tough away trip to Loughborough Dynamo.
“I know it’s really important to hit the ground running, but the first game of the season is always the hardest to win with many using it as a yardstick as to how their season will go.
“For me it will be the end of September, after seven or eight games, if we are in the top half and have had a couple of cup wins, I will consider it a great start.
“In the last couple of seasons Grantham and Belper were down near the bottom, but recovered to finish as champions and third and in the play-offs, respectively, so anything is possible.”