Liam Smith says that he learned the hard way during his first season in management but the joint Padiham boss won’t be making the same mistakes twice.
The Storks lost 11 of their final 13 games in the Hallmark Security Premier Division, conceding 32 goals in the process, but the former Colne FC coach has come through that experience as an even stronger commander.
Smith has been working tirelessly throughout the summer to restructure his squad alongside Dixon Lambert and Alex Norwood, even manning the phone and wheeling and dealing while on vacation in Southern Italy.
“It was a very tough last few months of the season, but league tables don’t lie. We finished where we did for a reason. It taught us a lot during that period, and in a way I am glad it has happened.
“We have learnt the hard way in those last two months, but certainly will not make the same mistakes again.
“A mixture of injuries to key players, the transfer window closing, the sheer number of games and a few infrastructural issues culminated in us finishing where we did, but the controllable factors certainly won’t happen again.
“One thing it has done is brought us even closer as a management team, and that togetherness, work ethic, trust and spirit between myself, Dixon and Alex is absolutely priceless.”
He added: “It’s not really opened my eyes because I’ve been around this level for a good few years now and know what comes with it.
“However, it has certainly taught us about what to look for in a player and about our expectations of the group collectively.
“It’s always difficult at the back end of the season if you haven’t anything to play for in the league table, but that should never affect that will to win or pride for the shirt.
“That professional attitude had disappeared in the last two months from certain individuals and we have to take responsibility for that.
“Ultimately you live and die by the sword, but I think with the squad we are assembling, coupled with all the changes at the football club over the summer, it will take Padiham FC to the next level.”
Smith has taken drastic action as a consequence, peeling everything back so that he has a blank canvas to work on. The cull has been almost therapeutic for Smith as he looks to restore Padiham’s identity.
All that began by recruiting a new leader. “Chris Turner has re-joined the club and will be our club captain,” he said.
“Chris is a great footballer and an even better person. He and his family love the club and he is exactly what we are looking for in our captain.
“Chris understands the expectations of the club captaincy and will be involved in all aspects of the club on and off the field. James Dean has also re-joined the club from Trafford along with Steve Hall (Droylsden), Adam Jones (Runcorn Linnets), Jack Tinning (Abbey Hey), Jordan Gidley (Barnoldswick Town) and Tom Hulme (Skelmersdale Utd).”
Smith added: “We have also retained Ben Hoskin, Kenny Taylor and Jake Hargreaves which, together with the new additions, make us very strong. There will be plenty more to come as well.
“Pretty much all of the squad from last season has gone. That might raise a few eyebrows but it was what was needed. We’ve kept quiet over the summer and worked every single day and night to assemble a group of top quality players who are hungry for success and fit in to our profile.
“We are delighted with the players that have agreed to come to the club and bought in to our plans and I can’t wait for the games to start.”