Alsager Town manager Wayne Brotherton believes the next few weeks will define his side’s destiny, as they look to bounce back into the Premier Division after their relegation last season.
In the next four weeks, the Bullets have seven league games, and Wayne is under no illusions about the importance of the games to come.
“I think by the end of March we will know better where our season will go”, he said. “We’ve got Litherland Remyca twice in just over a week and City of Liverpool too.
“But the lads have put themselves in this position, and that’s what we wanted from them at the start of the season, and now it’s up to them to keep it going”.
Wayne was assistant manager at the club last season, when they staged an amazing run of form in the closing weeks of the campaign that almost pulled them to safety, only to be relegated on the last day of the season.
After taking over as manager in the summer, with striker Michael Lennon as assistant, he decided that changes would need to be made if the squad were to mount a serious promotion campaign straight away.
“There were certain players we wanted to keep and but we also got some others in that we wanted. There’s only three players from last season that are in the squad now, and we did want to freshen it up a bit, to bring some new faces into the club and we managed to do that.
“Five or six of the lads in the squad were at Norton United when they won the league a few years ago, so we’ve got that experience in there, and that has helped some of the other lads who are 18 and 19 and have been released by pro clubs.
“They needed that experience around them to help them kick on.
“We actually started back in early June, so we had a head start on some of the others. It was something we wanted to do because that was we did when we played, we always started early.
“It was a new side so it was a case of getting everybody in, and get to know one another, and we did start the season really well.
“But then injuries hit us, and took their toll at the point where we were, so we lost a lot of ground there, but we are getting players back now and we are starting to look strong again”.
The intense battle at the top of the Division One table means that a full strength squad is essential for all the teams competing for promotion, and Wayne has been impressed by the competitive nature of the league this season.
“I think we needed some fresh clubs coming in, I think it’s what the league needed, and this season it’s probably the best it has been since I played in it years ago with Alsager.
“It’s really tough, and there’s maybe ten sides who can still get in the play offs. It’s really competitive but that is what you want.
“You want to be in a league where you are playing decent sides every week. Last season there weren’t so many sides in, but it’s a lot harder this season and that is what makes it a good league.
“At this stage of the season now, I think every game will be hard for a side that is in the top six. Everyone wants to beat one another, you only need to look at Stockport Town beating Charnock Richard on Saturday”.
Looking towards the weeks ahead, Wayne is hoping that his side can get back into a bit of rhythm after losing a few games to the weather in the past few weeks.
“We hope there won’t be any more postponements now, we’ve been a bit unlucky with that”, he reflected.
“We get playing games and winning and then have two weeks off, and we’re just training, and it’s hard. That has left us quite a few midweek games, but we do have a squad of 18 now, and there is competition for places, our two subs who come on at Bacup on Saturday both scored.
“I said to lads in training last week we’ve got 15 cup finals now. We’ve just got to keep focussed, train and take each game as it comes, take the result and move on to the next game and then see where we are.
“As it stands now, I’m relatively pleased with how it’s gone, and I think we have the ability to go on and hopefully win these games that are coming up, and get back into the Premier Division at the end of the season”.