Jay Saunders feels he’s a stronger person after coming through last season’s struggles.

Saunders faced heavy criticism during Maidstone’s 17-game winless run before leading them to National League safety. It was a tough time for the long-serving boss who also had to wrestle with an unexpected job offer from League Two new boys Macclesfield.

The 39-year-old, entering his eighth full season in charge, has his mojo back and has rebuilt his Maidstone squad.

He said: “For me, it was a really difficult summer. Obviously I had the Macclesfield thing so my head was all over the place and it affected everything, my home life, everything. It was a difficult period.

“I knew in my head what I wanted to do here with the team, go younger and with loads of legs, but it was hard putting it into place when my future was up in the air. The minute that got sorted, it meant I could crack on with it and try and get the sort of players we wanted.

“Time will tell if I’m a better gaffer for last season. In 20-odd years in football, it’s the worst time I’ve had and it was the most difficult time for me personally.”

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